This morning, as either my daughter, son-in-law or I do every Sunday at some point, I went up to the local grocery store to pick up the Sunday paper. Brought home a few other things too - fresh ground beef, buns, hot dog rolls; a honeydew melon and fresh strawberries as well - to have for supper tonight - grilled burgers and hot dogs, macaroni salad and a nice fruit salad. I took my little Princess Maya with me too so she'd get a little bit of an outing today at least.
At the store, the clerks all make a big fuss over her because they know her. Until about two months ago, this is where Mandy worked. And, Maya knows the names of almost all the cashiers, the girls who work behind the office desk and the folks back in the deli too which is where Mandy worked. As we were leaving the deli area though, one of the deli clerks had a visitor - her sister came in and brought the clerk's little girl -who is about 2-3 weeks younger than our little Kurtis - in to see her Mommie and seeing another little child like that always excites Maya very much. For most of the rest of the time we were in the store she kept telling me over and over "Wan' see the baby?" The funny thing about how excited she gets out in public over babies, other children -even adults ("Wan' see the peoples" becomes the chant then) - but at home, the only time she gives any mention to her baby brother, Kurtis, is if she is trying to get our attention AWAY from where we are trying to get hers!!! A great diversionary tactitian she does try to be.
I make sure one of us makes this regular stop every Sunday mainly because I don't have a subscription to the Centre Daily Times and I am addicted to the darned Sunday crossword puzzle. I didn't say I was good at doing it now -just admitted that I am addicted to it though. I generally have already read the CDT online early Sunday morning before going up for the print edition - always read the headlines of national or state news, then I click in to the local news and read through articles of interest, which includes the CDT's obituary section and I finish up with the editorial section online.
Generally, this keeps me somewhat up-to-date with local comings, goings and with the obituaries, passings too. However, the CDT has two obituary sections - sort of. One is the full obituary they publish and the other often is just a death notice which is merely a small blurb that so-and-so died, the age, date of death and viewing and funeral arrangements. I don't usually read the "death notice section as sometimes, it seems they don't always have things in there in the online version. Today was one of those days when I didn't check the death notices.
Got back home, got my coffee, ash tray, smokes, lighter, a big old fresh donut too (actually, a big old chocolate eclair, just what I really do NOT need) and was ready to start in on the crossword puzzle but for some reason or other, I opened up the paper and was glancing down the obit and death notice section when something caught my eye under the notices.
I gasped, audibly and Mandy looked at me with a very puzzled look, then asked me "What's wrong?" With my finger, I pointed to a death notice and she was shocked too.
There was a death notice for a young man, 27 years old, whose sister happens to be a very, very good friend of my son's. The sister has been to our home many, many times over the years and not only are she and my son very good friends, but my girls and I consider her to be a good friend of ours too.
Seeing that piece, and because my son had never mentioned anything at all being wrong with his friend's brother, I knew, instinctively this death had to be from one of two causes. I don't know as yet what happened to him, but my heart goes out to his parents, his sister, his extended family, because no family should have to suffer the kind of hurt it is to lose a child to begin with, much less under the type of circumstances I am sure most likely caused his death.
Mandy decided then and there she was going to fix something to take to the family home - well to the mother and sister - the parents are divorced. So between the two of us - I made the sauce, she mixed the ricotta cheese and other stuff, cooked the noodles and put together a big pan of lasagne to take up to his mother and sister. My son was on his way home today from their last run for this week and when Mandy called and told him what little we knew, he was very upset - hurting for his friend and her parents and also grieving for the brother as he knew him quite well, considered him also a friend.
Alcohol and/or drugs really are terrible components you know. Over the past 31 years now, I have known at least four or five truck drivers I was friends with through the truckstop I worked at, as well as a classmate or two, a woman who was a former neighbor, a neighbor's son that I grew up with and a cousin - son of my Mom's oldest brother - all died through their own hands. When people take that step, the aftermath it leaves for the family and yes, for friends too, as they try to cope is complicated then with feelings of guilt, confusion, anger and of course, the terrible consuming grief of the loss. Of the suicides I mentioned above, only two were not fueled by alcohol and/or drugs.
I know what an awful void my cousin's death left in our family, although we knew his choice came from alcohol. But my neighbor's son - because no one had a clue, not a clue that he had such thoughts, it devasted his parents as well as his siblings and completely rocked the entire community here as well.
I can't say that I don't understand the feelings that sometimes grip us of such despair because I can - and many years ago I thought of doing the same thing. I even tried once and failed. But, although some friends and family members accuse me today of having self-destructive thoughts because I still smoke, I did get help I very much needed way back when I really DID have thoughts of that nature. And, although there are days when I do get down in the dumps, depressed, sometimes even yes, think things might be better if I were not here, I won't follow through with them now simply because I would not want to ever put my children and now, my grandchildren through that type of anguish.
Today, seeing how Mandy immediately began planning to fix something to take to the family's home though did make me feel good about my daughter - to see that she is that caring, wanting to reach out, to try to offer comfort in some small way. Knowing too my son was going to go see the family too makes me very proud of both these kids of mine. They are both very caring, sympathetic and empathetic people who also know how much it means to have arms and prayers wrapped around you when you are feeling at what has to be the lowest of your life.
So - what's the message in my posting this tragedy? Simply this - if you - anyone reading this - is feeling this is the ONLY way to possibly deal with the problems facing you, please, please, PLEASE reach out and find help from someone, from anyone, from a pastor, priest, rabbi, counselor, close friend, relative. There is someone, always there really is, another person who can and will listen, who can and will help to find the help needed to guide back to living without those terrible thoughts running wild in your mind. Do not do anything to destroy yourself. Don't do anything that will devastate. possibly even destroy your family too.
And please, remember this young man in your prayers. Remember his parents and sister too that some peace, some comfort will begin to flow their way.
Thanks for reading; for listening; for caring.