A Life Cut Way Too Short

I’m not into posting in an impromptu manner, but something has been weighing heavily on my heart today.  There is a lady whose blog I have recently discovered.  It is called My Bright Shining Star, and it is an outlet for her to deal with the trauma of losing her beautiful daughter, Kaitlyn, to suicide this past April.

As a lot of you can guess, this topic really hits home to me since I attempted suicide late last summer (the night of August 24 to be exact).  I cannot do this poor woman justice by describing her pain and torment and how she pours her heart and soul into her blog posts, so just go over there and read them for yourselves.

I know the blogger’s name, but since she doesn’t publicize it anywhere (that I saw) on her blog, I will just refer to her as Kaitlyn’s mother.

She is still Kaitlyn’s mother and always will be.

My wife spent one year in the U.S. as an exchange student in high school. She was placed with a very dear LDS (Mormon) family. They had six children, but two of them tragically died in a car accident years before my wife lived with the family. To this day, my wife’s host mother still includes all six children’s names in her Christmas cards that she sends out each year.

It melts my heart each year when I open the card and see all eight names at the bottom (including the parents). To my wife’s host mother, the two deceased children’s bodies are no longer here, but their spirits live on in the hearts of the surviving family members.

I’m not sure what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about it, but my wife and I have a mutual understanding that we would have done the same exact thing had we been in her host parents’ situation.

I wrote a comment to Kaitlyn’s mother today and told her that her blog has impacted me in ways that she probably cannot imagine. After my attempt last summer, my wife, parents, and siblings told me over and over how they would have been affected and how it would have changed their lives forever. My mother even said that she wouldn’t have been able to celebrate Christmas quite the same for the rest of her life; she and I share that holiday as our favorite, and I would have unknowingly ruined it beyond repair.

My older cousin took his own life while I was living abroad, and I’ll never forget reading the email from my mother about the details. I began sobbing right there in the Internet Cafe as I read the news. My mother said that my cousin even took the time to put his two beloved dogs in their kennels before he shot himself.

My mother, from whom I get my emotional heart, said she would have given any amount of money to know what he was thinking as he led the dogs into the kennels and latched the doors for the last time. Those little trivial thoughts are like life support for a memory that has already evaporated.

Even though it has been over twelve years, little things like that pop into my mind from out of nowhere. One year for Christmas I bought my cousin a newly-released CD box set of The Doors, his all-time favorite band. He loved that gift so much. I still wonder what became of those CDs. Are they sitting in an attic covered by layers of dust? Did his ex-wife sell them at a garage sale? Or did my aunt and uncle leave them in his bedroom where he had last left them, like a lot of parents who seal off their deceased child’s bedroom to preserve their memory for as long as possible?

Anyway, if you’re reading this, Kaitlyn’s mother, please know that, although I cannot begin to comprehend your loss and the trauma that you’re experiencing, your writings have impacted me like nothing else ever has. I promised my family that I would not attempt suicide ever again, and you have helped me to cement that vow.

May you and your family be comforted and carried by the Lord and His angels until you are all reunited with your lovely daughter again.

~topaz

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About Topaz

I'm a college teacher, writer, and faithful Catholic. I do my best to juggle all of these while dealing with my mental illness -- a constant thorn in my flesh. View all posts by Topaz

2 responses to “A Life Cut Way Too Short

  • gatito2

    Topaz, I am greatly moved that you have made an entry in your blog about my blog and the loss of my beloved daughter. Your writing is beautiful and moving. What I am very happy about also, is that my blog and my feelings about my daughter’s suicide made an impact on your life and cemented your promise to never do that to yourself. In the depths of depression, many people don’t see the impact that it will have for those left behind, they only see their intense mental pain and want to end it. However, if people know beforehand, before they get to that point, maybe that knowledge can be retrieved in that dark moment and decide not to do what their depression is asking them to do.

    I wish you happiness in your life, and if you ever need a friend, I will be here. Thanks for mentioning my blog. The more people can read about what suicide does to those left behind the better and I also want to fight against the stigma of mental health problems which prevents many people from seeking help. I think this is what happened to my daughter.

    My name is Rhonda Elkins. I really did not realize I had not put my full name on my blog. It’s in the article I wrote way down at the beginning of my blog, but sometimes people might not go back that far. I don’t mind people knowing who I am.

    Please keep in touch and thank you.

    • Topaz

      Dear Rhonda,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Everything I wrote in this post was true and from the depths of my soul.

      When I used to be a Bible discussion leader back in college, members told me that they admired me for the way that I could “feel.” I never really knew what they meant until recently. I often feel for others so much that it overwhelms my soul and envelops me in a dark cloud.

      I blame this ability/curse on the reason why I haven’t been able to achieve more career-wise. I feel like such a loser because I’m approaching middle age with a Master of Arts degree, and I am still underachieving professionally. This thorn in my side, as I refer to it, is more than likely my illness. I think God is showing me that it can be a strength after all. I don’t know.

      I didn’t want to tell you about this blog entry because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I figured that if you found it on your own, then it would be meant to be. That’s one reason I blog anonymously; the other reason is, of course, the personal nature of my posts. As you mentioned, there is an enormous stigma tied to mental illness that keeps me “in the closet.”

      You’re right: Many people cannot think rationally in the depths of depression. I know I sure didn’t. For some unknown reason, it just wasn’t my time to die. Right before my first attempt, I remember cursing God and telling Him that He would have to physically come down and stop me. I said all this as I consumed about six shots of tequila. I said it one last time back in my car before I swallowed 40 Xanax tablets (1 mg each).

      As you can see, I should not be here right now.

      Maybe God wanted to use me as a testimony to help others. Again, I don’t know. I haven’t mentioned this publicly, but I attempted a second time last October. However, I got scared and changed my mind as the carbon monoxide fumes started burning my throat. I called 911 and was soon whisked away. My two little boys and my wife were waiting for me at our local community center for a Halloween event; I never showed up. It was the second time in two months that I had disappeared from my family. I am amazed and humbled that my wife is still with me.

      My support team consists of two certified therapists, my psychiatrist, and my mother. I meet with all of them regularly (Well, my mother lives out of state). One of my therapists used to be an interrogator for the U.S. Army, so he pulls no punches. I also spent time in three different mental hospitals last year and earlier this year.

      I already consider you a friend and it goes without saying that I will be in touch on a regular basis, because that’s what friends do.

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