Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012.08.22 Death Days

The death of summer sizzle and shine makes me sad enough but when a tragedy like suicidal death strikes and death intervenes on life leaving ragged edges, I say, “Oh my God!” thrice and count it as prayer— a cry from the depths of helplessness to the only Love that feels as if it might just be trustworthy enough to bear up and to last.

A good friend—not long-term and not very close but good—is dead, and I never said good bye. I didn’t know he was going to die.

I remembered an event of some years ago when a friend’s teenage son committed suicide.  The memory of her grief gave me a little distance from my own.

After the shock and the inner explosion of every feeling imaginable, my friend settled into a numbness almost worse than raw pain.  She just couldn’t figure out why her son took his own life and why God LET it happen. She kept praying and praying and praying, asking and asking and asking her almighty loving God to be accountable. God and her friends listened and listened and listened.

I had the mental image of God being throttled by prayers of anguish and unknowing and deep faith.  And I’d thought God was supposed to be the hound of heaven!

Months passed before God, who had exercised superb divine patience, finally was able to penetrate this mother’s beseechings, in a moment I suppose of sheer exhaustion—hers not God’s.  What makes you think I wasn’t there? God said from the depths of her soul. A question not an answer but a question that liberated.

The friend I now grieve committed suicide and left a mystery.  Rational explanations about depression and despair and etc. etc. are helpful, but not healing.  Another friend who knew this man wrote, “Mental illness be damned!”  Sin and guilt be damned as well. Advice, judgments and reason at a time like this feel hollow. 

Still, I’ve had my share of grief and have walked with others through theirs.  I know that suicide grieving is the hardest, in part because it will inevitably involve plenty of ideas about preventability.  I wonder if… What if… If only he’d….. If only I’d……..   And on and on it will go till it exhausts itself and you say goodbye to your fantasies and sob.

My good friend is gone. I already miss his joviality, humor, deep belly laughs, and bear hugs. Most of all I will miss his deep religious faith.  He spoke eloquently about God and praised Christ in song and word—despite the darkness that too often threatened to possess him. I’m grateful for positive memories that outlast cruel twists. 

Suicidal death is a spiritual lemon, one you want to turn into lemonade but can’t and shouldn’t, one that many people curse, but God, who knows a whole lot more than we do, blesses.  So what is the spirituality of suicide?

I dare to wonder if my good friend, and others who find themselves wholly lost, reach out, finally and devotedly, consciously or not, for the one hand they know belongs in theirs, forever and eternally. 

And the grasp holds.