The first of March - this weekend marks the beginning of "that time" of year for me. Two weeks from today will be the 5th anniversary of Eddie's death. I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few days. I've learned to start ahead of time preparing myself for the date. But so far I feel like this year is going to be different. I don't mean that I think the day will be easy - it will never be easy. I just think I've finally come to terms with what happened and am beginning to feel some sense of peace. I still don't understand why things happened as they did, but I've honestly quit trying because I know that I never will. I still don't like the choice Eddie made, but I've accepted it was his choice, and no matter how much I'd like to think so, nothing I could have said or done would have made a difference. I still have moments when I get angry at Eddie - either because he's not here to experience something or because he's not around to help me with something - but the anger doesn't last. I still think of him every day and miss the good times we shared, but I no longer dwell on the bad times. My focus has shifted from mourning what could have been to remembering and appreciating what was.
I believe a lot of my current feelings have to do with the publication of my book. The timing (being released just before this 5th anniversary) was perfect. As people have started to read the book some have asked me questions about things I said, felt, and experienced, and others have shared their own experiences with me. As a result I've talked more openly and honestly about what happened in the last few weeks than I ever did in the past five years. With the exception of writing my blog, this has proven to be the greatest therapy I could have hoped for. I've spent time the past two nights talking with a friend whose neighbor committed suicide this past week. He shot himself with a shotgun just like Eddie. He was married with two children, had a job, and had never given any indication that he was considering taking his own life. He and his wife were coming up on their 25th wedding anniversary...so many similarities to my own experience. My friend was of course shocked at what happened and was asking the same questions I asked...How could this happen? Why didn't I see any signs? Could I have said or done something to make a difference? Instead of being upset over talking about something so painfully familiar to me though, I was glad to be able to provide some comfort. Of course I didn't have any answers, but I was able to offer understanding.
I've also spent time during the last couple of weeks with other friends who recently lost loved ones. The circumstances were different, but the losses were difficult just the same. Everyone experiences the same emotions in varying forms and intensities when a loved one passes away. Whether it is a sudden, tragic loss or an expected one, everyone needs comfort, sympathy, and understanding afterwards. We all deal with our losses in different ways...some of us want another person to talk to and share our feelings with, while others prefer to remain quiet and cope with the loss on their own. Regardless of the method we choose though we all need someone nearby for support. No matter how strong we think we are no one recovers alone!
All of this has made me realize one thing...I don't want what I went through and learned in the process to be swept under a rug and forgotten...I want it to be used for good. So, despite my previous adamant insistence that I was finished with school, I am now contemplating going back (AFTER I retire from teaching) to become a counselor. If I can help anyone in any way, then my own experience has not been in vain.
“For darkness restores what light cannot repair.” ~Joseph Brodsky