For better understanding you may want to read About This Blog first.
When Rhonda called from the police station with the news about Aaron’s death I wasn’t surprised. A father’s intuition.
When I hung up the phone I gave it a few minutes to sink in. I wanted to start making phone calls to the kids and break the news but first things first.
I went to the front door, opened it, stuck my head out and looked up toward the heavens. It was dark by this time and no one around to witness my outburst.
I screamed at God, then gave Jesus a what for. What I said is not printable and I wouldn’t want to repeat it even if it was.
I didn’t want to fall victim to His come back so I quickly ducked back inside for safety. Yeah, right, like running in the house would protect me anyway.
My outburst lasted no more than a fraction of a second. I was so ashamed of myself but I just felt I needed someone to be mad at and more importantly, blame.
I was mad at God for letting it happen, for not stopping Aaron and for just being so inconsiderate of how it was going to affect me and my family.
Hate is a strong word but it is the only one to describe my feelings toward God at this time.
But sanity prevailed. I needed to pick on someone my own size or better yet another human.
That little outburst at least got the anger part out of my system for the time being. It was replaced by a myriad of emotions from heartache, confusion, guilt and sadness.
Anger would have its chance to surface again but not now.
Somehow I made it through the next week, the funeral, family and friends and going back to work.
Anger was always close at hand, just simmering wanting to find a way to the surface. I felt more and more compelled to find someone I could hold responsible for this tragedy in my life to feed my anger.
It was time to play the blame game.
God got a free pass for obvious reasons, although there are still a few questions I’d like to ask Him but that will have to wait for another time.
I started with the prime suspect, me.
I would look in the bathroom mirror and stare.
“It’s all your fault” I said.
I needed to be more convincing.
“IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT”,I screamed my head so as not to draw attention.
One more time I thought just to get the point across.
“ITS ALL YOUR FAULT” emphasizing each word as I said it.
With the finger firmly pointed in my direction it was time to tell me why it is my fault. Blame has to have a good reason.
- You’re a lousy father. (yeah good one)
- God is punishing you for your secret sins (no argument there)
- If you weren’t so caught up in your own world you could have done something to stop it. (ouch, below the belt)
I beat the crap out of myself on a regular basis.
But I wasn’t going to take all the blame, no sir. I was going to share the misery around a bit.
My dear wife was on my radar. She not only had to fight her own personal demons and battles but she also had no choice but to fight with me on mine.
If I was willing to take the blame because I was a bad father then she had to fess up to her part in the crime.
Over the course of time, I would bring up how I felt we as parents failed Aaron. We had to come clean and acknowledge what lousy parents we have been.
It would start off as a normal discussion about a seemingly innocuous topic. When she wasn’t seeing it I upped the volume until I was in a screaming match. Blame with anger, it never fails to get a rise.
It always ended in my dear sweet wife crying but God bless her, she never gave in. She knew she was a good mum to her kids and did the best she knew how. She thought if that wasn’t good enough then so be it but she wasn’t going to take the blame for Aaron’s death.
After many rounds in the ring I threw in the white towel of surrender. She was right, I was wrong.
I turned my attention to the one person who I could make the blame stick. Aaron himself.
I got so mad at him on so many occasions I thought my head was going to explode. After all he was the one who did it to himself.
I have his picture, a small three by five in a nice little frame sitting next to my computer. Over the years we have had many conversations. One way I might add as he never spoke back. Not yet anyway.
There were times I was so upset at him I would put his picture face down, like sending him to his room for being naughty. If I was really mad at him I put his photo in the bedside table drawer. I wouldn’t let him out until I forgave him.
I even remember telling him one day in the midst of one of my blame sessions.
“When I get to heaven young man I’m going to give your the biggest hug you could ever imagine, then I’m going to kick your ass”.
The good news is; I don’t get mad at God anymore. He forgave me. I don’t get mad at my dear wife anymore, I forgave myself. I don’t get mad at Aaron any more. I forgave him.
And I don’t get mad at myself anymore because I stopped playing the blame game. Not that I don’t want to from time to time, but now I know its not good for me.
For better understanding you may want to read About This Blog first.
At the time of Aaron’s death I was working as a mail contractor for Australia Post picking up mail from the post offices and delivering them to the mail center for sorting.
My last run of the day started at the southern tip of the city. On any given day of the week this time of day starts a build up of traffic as commuters rush home.
Friday afternoons are worse as everyone seems to be knocking off early to get a jump on traffic.
But this was a Tuesday so something was wrong. Road works? Traffic accident?
While loading my van with the day’s mail at my first Post Office stop, I was approached by one of the staff,
“if your travelling south you will have a hard time getting anywhere” she said.
“No, I’m going north, why is that”? I queried
“Some idiot decided to walk in front of a truck and kill himself. You would think that if he was going to off himself he could have done it some other way so as not to inconvenience others. ”
Normally I would have come back with a snide remark or a smirk and nod of the head in agreement,I would say something that put us on the same page. Suicide was not high on my list of showing any understanding or compassion.
But I had a really bad feeling. I thought it might have been Aaron. My heart sunk and my stomach turned into knots.
I gave a weak reply and got out of there as quick as I could.
Rhonda had been in contact with Aaron on a daily basis for the past week as he had been meeting with her about certain things in his life. So when she couldn’t get a hold of him that day my worry gene took over.
I was concerned all day but not frantic. Lisa ( his older sister, he worked in her cafe) told Rhonda she spoke to him in the morning and he was in good spirits, he just moved into a new apartment and seemed to be OK.
Winding back to the mail center was like a death march. It seemed like an eternity trying to get home that evening.
The house was quiet and all seemed normal. I took a deep breath as I started to relax.
Rhonda was still at work.
Before I could settle in Rhonda phoned.
“Hi, I’m at the police station. Are you sitting down? I’ve got some bad news.”
Why do people ask that, is it just something that we get from cop shows on TV? Does sitting down better prepare you for bad news, are they afraid you may faint and hit your head?
“Aaron is dead, he was hit by a truck and died instantly”.
My worst fear has just become a reality.
And no I wasn’t sitting down.
Rhonda told me the police contacted her at work. They got her number from Aaron’s phone. They asked her to come into the police station. It was a few minutes walk from her work.
“The police are bringing me home as they don’t want me driving, I’ll see you soon. I love you” she said
I was waiting for her on the front lawn.
When the police car drove up and dropped Rhonda off, she thanked them as they drove away.
We hugged, held hands, looked into each others eyes without word. I took a deep breath as walked toward the house.
This was the beginning of the worst day of my life.
On April 29, 2008 my son Aaron walked against the traffic on the main highway leading out of town. Head bent down texting a friend, “it’s over”, he then walked in front of a truck and was killed instantly. Aaron was 28 years old, I was 59.
Six & a half years later I am starting this blog writing about my personal experiences as a father who lost a son. It’s not about Aaron and what he did and why he did it. I can’t speak for him. It’s not about his mother or brothers and sisters whose loss was in no way any less traumatic for them as it was for me. I can’t speak for them nor do I feel I have the right to.
But I do intend to be as honest about his suicide and its effect on my life.
I write in hope that I might be able to connect with others who may have had the same experience or who knows someone who did. I believe we are put on this earth to help each other in some way make sense of the truth in our lives whatever that may be.
At the same all these memories and experiences are like pieces to a puzzle. As I write, I hope each piece will find its way into the bigger picture.
I had to decide whether to write a private journal that I might someday turn into a book or a blog that I can immediately share my experiences with others who could use some solidarity and companionship through someone who has been subject to the same grief, heartbreak, anger, compassion, understanding and unconditional love because of the loss of a well-beloved child.
They say time is a great healer and for me this has been true. I tested my emotional metal by watching a video clip that a family friend put together for us to play at Aaron’s funeral. He used a song from one of Aaron’s favorite bands along with photos from birth to a grown man. In the six and a half years that followed I tried to watch it again one time about a year after his death. I got no further than the first few photos before I had to turn it off.
When I decided to write this blog I wanted to see how strong I have grown since that fateful day by watching this video clip once again. The turmoil that erupted inside was no less violent than the day he died, but I made it to the end. I had come a very long way.
When I was twenty two I was camping in the mountains of New Jersey for an extended period of time. I was going through the DIM (do it myself phase in my life) I had this massive hunting knife that made Crocodile Dundee’s double-edged look like a pen knife.
I was making my own bread at the time. This particular loaf was hard as a rock. I tried to slice a piece and my knife bounced off the bread into my index finger. It cut deep and hurt like the dickens.When my finger sewed itself up the cut must have damaged a nerve because whenever I touched it I felt a sharp pain. For many years that followed the pain from this cut was still quite evident and constant.
Eventually the pain subsided but the small scar remains to this day which reminds me of the mishap forty-four years ago.
The pain from Aaron’s death is still very painful when I allow myself to touch it. It is getting easier as each day or month passes but the scar I know will remain forever.
Everyone has their own way of mourning the death of a loved one. Everyone has their own healing process.
If I can help make that process easier for others by sharing my story then this blog will be worth its weight in gold.
Thanks for visiting,