A suicide is unlike any other death in the family. I found that out the hard way, just before Thanksgiving in 2018. It’s because they go willingly, by their own hand. It’s horrifying to me that my godson made this choice. The guilt, shame, blame, mystery and bewilderment each compound each other upon the news. The grieving never ends. Even though in his suicide note he promised of missing him that “this too shall pass”. I doubt it ever will. I take some comfort in brain studies that show that a deep suicidal tendency may in fact be every bit as physical as a heart attack. Perhaps he had less choice than I’ve imagined.
It’s been 14 months, more or less to the day, as I write this. There are times I think I’m over it, in fact, so over it that I get more anxious feelings of guilt that I could dare to be. During his earliest years he was the bouncing blonde baby boy in my life. I learned to keep him safe, and let him share himself with me, as he discovered his toys and the world around him. But by the time he was four years old, I saw an early warning sign, that this kid’s going to be trouble.
But not in a malicious way. It’s just that, when he told me about the myth of the scarab beetle, and how it used dung to form the world, he lacked a certain four-year-old’s innocence. He told me, this is the way the heavens and earth began, with a conviction of belief, with a certainty of knowing, that was unsettling to me. There was no room for any other explanation.
His brow was furrowed. He had a dark expression. I have never seen anyone more determined to share what he was beyond sure what was true. He had the fanaticism of a cult leader many years older. He had such a stark rigidity in telling me this, that I saw no room to ask him any questions. I simply listened, in stunned silence, anticipating that this conviction of his own rightness would be an unwavering feature in future years.