I was rearranging some pictures in my bedroom last night when I realized I had stopped and was just staring at two particular pictures. One was of Eddie and Trey taken at the beach several years ago. They were so obviously happy, both smiling and laughing, and it struck me for the first time how much they looked alike. The other was of Eddie and Emily at a softball game when she was not quite a year old. Eddie was holding her, and she was waving. Emily looked so serious like she was really concentrating on what she was doing, and Eddie looked so happy and proud. Looking at those pictures made me realize I still don't understand why he took his own life. I know he was depressed about not having a job. I know he was still struggling with his alcoholism. I know he had some issues from his past that he had never dealt with or resolved. But I also know how much he enjoyed life. Eddie loved to exercise and work in the yard. He liked to watch baseball and football on T.V. and still played softball occasionally. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. He loved the beach as much as I do and liked taking the boat out on the lake. He enjoyed going out to eat, grilling at home, and spending time with family and friends.
Knowing how much he had to live for, I just can't accept that he chose to give it all up. And that's where my problem lies ... after two and a half years, I still haven't reached the "stage" of acceptance. I know I need to accept what happened in order to completely heal, but I haven't been able to do that yet. I know Eddie is gone. I know he's not coming back. But I haven't accepted the circumstances of his death, and I'm not sure that I ever will. I read that while we may not understand the why of a loved one's death, it did not happen by chance - God knew it was going to happen because our days are determined even before we are born. I have a hard time with that idea. It may be true, but believing something and accepting it are two different things.
Acceptance involves being able to say goodbye. While Eddie's absence over the past two plus years has been painfully obvious to me, I haven't actually said a final goodbye to him. Both my counselor and the pastor I was seeing suggested I write a letter to Eddie expressing my feelings - the hurt, anger, love, and questions - then read the letter to him as a way of saying goodbye. I started a letter at the time, but I never finished it. I wrote pages and pages, to the point that I was beginning to repeat myself, but I could never make myself bring the letter to a close. I knew closing the letter would mean saying goodbye, and I haven't been ready for that yet. I still have the letter in a drawer beside the bed. I take it out now and then, reread it with the intention of finishing it, but always put it back without writing any more. I know the word goodbye originally meant "God be with you" or "Go with God." It was intended as an expression of love with the wish that God would be part of the journey. While that is of course what I wish for Eddie, I haven't been able to bring myself to say the word. Maybe one day I will.
"Acceptance is not a gut-wrenching attempt to look peaceful. It is a calm assurance that the person we have lost will always be with us because of the contribution that person has made to our lives. It is an acceptance of God's will for us even when His plan and ours don't match up. It is a "Yes, Lord, and amen" even when we don't get our own way. It is our final step toward healing." Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love by Raymond Mitsch & Lynn Brookside