The Juxtaposition between Mourning and Celebration

So yesterday was my co-worker’s funeral. Today was Family Fun Night at my son’s school.

It was surreal, seeing so many people dressed up. Ours is a laid-back office, so seeing dresses and suits with ties was distressing. Most of the office is still in shock. It would’ve made a difference if our co-worker died from an accident, or had a heart attack, or died of natural causes, or got shot by an assailant.

What happens when the assailant is yourself?

The only time I dealt with suicide was back in high school, when a guy from my Spanish class killed himself. I didn’t know him all that well–he pretty much kept to himself. When we heard what happened, I remember feeling sad, but not really broken up over it.

But this is different. We knew this guy. We saw him all the time. He took my hubby and me out to dinner. We saw them at church last week. He walked by my desk every single day. I would say “Hi,” and he always had a smile for me.

It makes what he did last Tuesday so out of whack, many of us still have trouble believing it.

I’ve been trying to sort it out in my head and on paper. Mainly there’s sadness, but there’s also anger too. Why didn’t he tell anyone he was in distress? Was there anything we could have done? Could have said? Would he even listen, or was he so far gone that nothing would have reached him? He was always cool, always calm, always collected. Nothing seemed to faze him.

I don’t get it.

Today, we went to Daniel’s school for their annual Family Fun Night. Daniel took me to his schoolroom and show me the picture he drew, the cubicle where he hangs his jacket. We ate soup and salad, watched a Celtic band. Daniel threw a tantrum because he didn’t want to wear his crocs. Later, he jumped in the bouncy house for about five minutes, then came out and put his crocs on, saying, “Okay, I’m done.”

And all throughout the evening, the thought kept running through my mind: He will never experience fun with his family again. He won’t get to see his kids laugh or cry. He won’t be there to dry their tears or laugh at a joke with them. I can’t stop thinking of it. No matter how hard I try.

On Saturday, I went to the farm. I pulled beets out of the crumbling dirt, roots and bugs dangling down. I washed them in ice-cold water, plunging my hands in, feeling their knobbly hardness, marveling at the crimson red of the skins, the striped pink of the stems. Later on, I washed cherry tomatoes, my fingers reaching through the clear water, searching for the smooth orbs. I felt them round and fleshy in my hands: scarlet, tangerine, orange-yellow, grass green. I popped one into my mouth, felt its warmth flood my cheeks with pulp and seed.

Each following day that comes, we will step a little further away from his death. The pain will soften, the sorrow lessens, and we will start remembering more of what he was rather than how he ended. I can feel it happening now, each minute that passes. In the meantime, I’m going to hug my son a little more, hold my hubby a little tighter. I’m going to try to experience life just a little more before mundanity makes me forget.

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