Tag Archives: Suicide: A Father Story

Someday I Will Ask, But Not Today

As a family we have over the past 7 years refrained from talking about Aaron’s death. Rarely have I had  conversations with any of my children about his passing and how it happened. If they talk about it among themselves I wouldn’t know.

As time passed each of us learned to deal with this tragedy in our own ways. I never broached the subject with my kids nor did they come for advice or a shoulder to cry on. In retrospect I wish I could have coped better, at least for the sake of my children.

At our yearly Family Day when we gathered each year near the date of his death. One year my ex-wife brought a picture of Aaron and placed it in the center of the picnic table as a reminder of why we were there. One of her older daughters  lovingly rebuffed her and told her it wasn’t necessary because we all knew why we were there. His picture remained in place that day but never showed up again.

Our conversation at these outings was never about Aaron. It didn’t have to be, he was there with us, in each of our hearts and thoughts and we all knew it.

Someday I would like to be able to talk to each one of his siblings and get their story to get a better understanding of how Aaron’s death affected them, the things that they went through, the anguish, heartbreak and their own personal grief. Did they carry any guilt blaming themselves in any way, did they harbour any hidden memories that were too difficult for them to face. What fears did they encounter the days, months and years that followed. Did his death bring them closer to their siblings and our family in general or did they drift away inwardly if not outwardly.

As I reflect on their part in this family tragedy I was encouraged when I started to think about the physical ways that each one of them wants to remember and honour their brother.

Each year many of them meet at his headstone at the local cemetery on his birthday.  I didn’t know this until my wife showed me a picture posted on Facebook of them gathered together one year. One of my boys who apparently couldn’t make it the year the photo was taken, had his own face  superimposed  in the photo and posted it himself to show that although not able to make it in person he was there in spirit.

At Aaron’s memorial we had a small photo of him printed and laminated and passed out to all who came to remember him. Each one of my kids has this photo either in their wallet or purse and even on their refrigerator in the their kitchen.

Quite a few have gone to the extreme of getting tattooed with his name or other messages on their bodies, keeping him forever remembered.

I am not a big fan of tattoos. I have none myself but I have come to terms with the fact that this day and age it seems to be ingrained in our western culture not much different to social media.

So when one of my daughters turns up at a family gathering one year with a huge tattoo on her outer thigh I was really taken by surprise and to be honest my reaction was not a great one. Then when she told me to take a closer look I saw it was a picture of Aaron permanently inked on her leg. It was her way of honoring his life.So how could I argue with that.

When my youngest child who is now eighteen told me she wanted to get a tattoo I froze. She is what is known as a “clean skin” and the last I thought would go down this road. She consoled me with the fact it would be a little one. When I asked what she was thinking of getting she proudly stated, “Aaron’s name”.  Another one of my girls has a little message on the back of her neck with Aaron’s name so anyone standing in line behind her will know that whoever this Aaron is, is very special to her.

The boys went about it in bigger ways having their memories of him emblazoned on their chest or arms.

There is a story behind each tattoo, each visit to the cemetery and their personal bigger story locked away in each of their hearts.

Their outward manifestation of their love for Aaron needs no explanation or discussion.

Someday I hope to be able to have the courage to ask what lies inside their hearts and how that fateful day affected them.

Someday I will ask, but not today.

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Or,Rather Let It Be Healed

I started this blog to document and tell my story. I had no idea where it would lead me. I learned many things about myself and what the last six years of my life cost me. The emotional upheaval, the mental anguish and the spiritual doubts. I just knew I had to not only write it down as a journal for my benefit but I had to make it public which forced me to be more honest than my nature allowed for.

During the writing of these posts I have learned that I am no longer playing the Survivor. I no longer blame myself or let guilt grind me into the ground.  Most of all grief who had become my best friend and constant companion was no longer welcome in my life.

In my last post Moving On (Leaving Grief Behind) I declared myself grief free. From there I was able to move on and start living my life in a way that I had not experienced for many years. I came out the other end of a very dark tunnel a different and hopefully a better person. I had to accept that there was no going back to the way things were before Aaron’s suicide nor do I want to.

After my last post I felt I had nothing more to say so I closed up shop without saying goodbye to my new friends out there in cyberspace. I know it was rude of me not to at least put a postscript to my blog thanking all that came into my life and helped make my transition from a grieving parent to a man who at the age of sixty-six is starting life all over again.

What I hadn’t understood until a few days ago was that the reason I could now move on is because I am healed.

The loss of my son caused me to develop some nasty mental, emotional and spiritual diseases. I once thought that It was my cross I had to carry around with me including all the baggage associated with losing a loved one to suicide.

In the beginning I understood there is a natural grieving process that I am sure varies from person to person and the time given for this process also varies. Although and I say this from my personal experience only, that the natural grieving process had an end to it. I allowed myself to continue to grieve longer than I should have therefore causing me either to be addicted to grief and guilt or self inflicting myself with the same.

In retrospect I can see the thin veil between the two. I could have shaved off quite a few years of all the anguish that grief and guilt caused me if I would have been able to see where one ended and the other began.

I felt an obligation to my son to continue to keep his memory alive, to continue to grieve because that was expected of me. I fed my guilt and anger longer than they needed to be kept alive and unfortunately by allowing myself to continue with the grieving process I tricked myself into believing it was my cross to bear for the rest of my life.

I still have Aaron’s three by five photo sitting on my desk that has been here for the past six plus years staring at me as I write this post.

I look at him now with no feeling of grief, no guilt, not even feeling guilty that I don’t feel guilt, no anger, no emotional turmoil. I don’t miss him any more than I miss my son who lives in Switzerland that I have only seen once in the past ten years and that was at  Aaron’s memorial.

I have accepted that Aaron is in a better place, at least I hope he is and if he isn’t all the grieving and guilt will not make one iota of difference. Most of all I believe if Aaron had a say he would have told me long ago; “dad, I love you but for God’s sake and the sake of my brothers, sisters and mum, could you please tone down all the crying and carrying on. I’m ok, I made a mistake but I am learning over on the other side. And between me and you, everything is going to work out for you and our family. And most of all dad, you need to get on with your life too.”

When I stopped writing for five weeks I also stopped reading blogs. I stopped being concerned about others who were suffering the same turmoil as myself. That was a mistake I want to rectify. I want to continue to read those who are brave enough to put their feelings on paper and share it with the world. You are brave and my hope is that each of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one through suicide will also be fully healed and able to move on with your life.

I can see you shaking your head. You don’t know how it is possible, you can barely make it through the next hour. You hurt too much and you vow you will never let your loved one’s memory be erased. You are in the process of building a shrine in your heart if not in a physical or practical way. You have started a blog so you will never forget. You want to keep him or her alive forever.

Or, ‘rather let it be healed’. (The Bible)

Moving On (Leaving Grief Behind)

Deciding to move on has changed the whole perspective of my journey (Surviving Is Not Enough). I am excited again about life and what the future holds. The changes are mostly internal right now and these changes are  synonymous with giving up my grief. I don’t believe I would be able to move on and allow grief to be part of my life at the same time.

After the initial shock of Aaron’s suicide wore off, grief hit me with its full force. My dictionary defines grief as; “deep or intense sorrow or distress, esp at the death of someone.”  Intense being the operative word. 

As time went on, my grief attacks became less constant but the intensity remained the same. In the beginning I didn’t know how I would be able to take the constant barrages of emotional instability that grief brought into my life.

In retrospect I see how I put up the white flag of surrender by allowing grief to become a part of me. I accepted that it was always going to be by my side so I invited the unwanted guest to stay and live with me.

‘Give it time’ was a phrase I heard and read many times. It became a cliché, something people say for the sake of saying something positive. I believed it in theory but I couldn’t relate to it in practice. I felt there was nothing within my power to stop the grieving and I couldn’t see that far in the future for it to make any sense to me.

I had hoped that some day grief would just fade away and I would sneak out from under the hold it had on me. It had never crossed my mind that giving up grief could be a personal choice. I had accepted that it came and went at will, that I had no say in the matter. Its was true in the beginning. I was at the mercy of its raging storm.

But, I must admit, as time went on the attacks lessened and their intensity was manageable.

When I declared myself fit and ready to move on, for the first time I realized that leaving grief behind was something I had control over. I didn’t have to wait until it was out of my system, nor did I have to accept it would be with me forever.

I have moved on to continue my journey, leaving my grief behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving Is Not Enough

Writing this blog has set me free in so many ways. Telling my story  has taken me from being a victim of circumstances that were beyond my control, to being a survivor of the loss of a loved one.

When I first started putting my words on paper, ideas were plentiful and it was evident I could write what I wanted at will. I couldn’t hit the keys on my computer fast enough. For once in my life my brain was working faster than my body parts.

My story is a  journey I was reluctant to go on. Taking me away from my normal life, my family, my friends and just about everything associated with the life I once lived.

Within I became a hermit, a recluse living in my own world that was causing me to drift further away from family and friends,while going through the motions of living a life that appeared, at least to me, normal.

Brooding in an inner world where the lights had been turned off,  I would venture out from time to time only to have my eyes blinded by the intensity of the sun’s rays. I would then retreat back into my lonely world as fast as the speed of thought.

Six years later someone decided to turn the light on in my darkened world. I took that as a sign, it was time to come out of hiding and face the world.  I then had this insatiable desire to tell my story. For the first time I wanted to talk about a life lost and its effect on me. It is only then that I realized that there are millions just like me who are going through a similar process and are on a journey in search of healing.

These past months of writing has liberated me and  I have discovered a peace that I hadn’t experienced for as long as I can remember.

I was not only on my way to recovery but I hoped it would take me back to a place I call normal or at least the way it was.

It was working beautifully with my muse working overtime keeping me creatively inspired, each word keyed at the speed of thought, each paragraph edited simply enough to be readable, and spell-check at my beck and call. The wall I had systematically built around my heart was being torn down piece by piece, word by word.

I knew within that I had to finish the ‘book’, as I would refer to telling my story. It had a beginning and therefore it had to have an ending. To me it seemed simple, the ending was becoming a survivor, someone who passed the test and came out the other end beaten and battered but alive.

I had this feeling inside that my job would be complete and I could get back to ‘normal’ when I finished the ‘book’. I just needed to keep writing until there was nothing more to say.

Then the unthinkable happened. I couldn’t finish another paragraph if my life depended on it. It was taking me longer to come up with ideas for my story and unfinished posts were starting to gather dust. I had hit ‘writers block’ at full force.  My muse decides to go on holidays. My fingers were developing cob webs and my mind was drifting back into the old ‘normal’.

I needed to take a deep breath and figure this thing out. It was not time to raise the white flag of surrender. There was a reason that I was becoming stagnant and I refused to believe it was just ‘writers block’.

I wasn’t going to try to write another word until I understood what it was that was blocking me.

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It’s been several days now since writing the above. I had to take a ‘time out’ to sort out my thoughts. I had to come to terms with something that was holding me back but I wasn’t sure what it was.  There was no use in waiting for my muse to come back off of holidays, she wasn’t coming back until I addressed the elephant that was in the room.

Up until this post I had been operating under the impression that surviving the death of a loved one was the main goal, it wasn’t. Then I proclaimed that I was no longer a victim of suicide and not longer trying to survive. Let the world know that I am as survivor. I have reached the summit. I can get back to living my life as a normal human being. I am healed.

So why the ‘all of a sudden’, I can’t put two words together to make a sentence. I wasn’t going to budge until I got an answer and I believe I have. The mental block was only there to slow me down, actually stop me in my tracks. I had come to a crossroads, not in my writing but my life. If I thought that being a survivor of the loss of a loved one was the ultimate goal, I was way off base. It was never meant to be the goal, only a marker in the next step of  my life.

I had a decision to make. Accept my new label of survivor as the be all and end all, try to reconstruct my life and get back to normal or take the next step. I had to come to grips with the fact that this journey will never end no matter how many mountains I climb. What I discovered about myself was a little scary but exciting and exhilarating at the same time.

I realized that I would never be content, happy or even at peace with myself unless I continued to move forward, which meant leaving my old life behind and anything that would hold me back including any excess baggage that I needed to leave behind to move forward.

I had worked very hard over the past years to eliminate the intense grief, guilt, confusion, anger, blame and all the other emotions and labels associated with suicide. Now it was time to give my Aaron a hug and let him go, not for his sake but for mine and those around me.

By continuing to hold onto the past I am effectively making the future non-existent. I know deep down inside Aaron would want that too. He would want the best for me. He doesn’t expect me to sit around and mourn his life as though by allowing myself to move on completely would be nothing short of being a traitor to him, my son.

He would want me to take all the valuable experiences and lessons of life I have accumulated over the last years and turn them into something useful, for others.

But in order to do that there is a price to pay, there is a very important decision that has to be made. I have to let go of the past, I have to forsake what I have been holding onto these past years. I need to let Aaron go so I can move forward. As simple as that.

He is already where he is meant to be. But my desire to keep him alive in my mind and heart, his memories fresh and at my fingertips will not hold him back but keep me from moving forward.

Surviving is not enough, leaving my old life behind is the next step in this wonderful journey that has been given me.

Today, I have made my choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Expectations and Lowering The Bar

I am not unlike any other parent who desires the best for their children. I try to do what ever I feel necessary to help them achieve that goal. It was important to me that my children succeed in this world.

When an old friend who I hadn’t seen for some time would ask, “how are your kids doing?”,  I actually thought they really wanted to know, so I would start with the most successful or those doing the best at the time then work my way down the ladder until I could see boredom mask their face. That was my cue to  stop before getting to some of my not as successful or those having a rough patch.

My bar was high but not unreachable. I wasn’t looking for any brain surgeons, Senators, elite athletes, or Albert Einsteins. No, I believed I had my expectations at a reasonable level although any of the above would be acceptable also.

A few months after Aaron’s suicide, Rhonda and I went to the States for a long over due visit. Prior to our leaving on our trip a dear friend organized for us to stop at her place, on our return. Staying with her in a  distant city for some relaxation and catching up with old friends. During our stay she put together a dinner party for us, inviting some close friends and some of our family who were living in the area.

It was nice seeing everyone and we really felt loved and cared for. It was special and we are eternally grateful. Just what we needed at the time.

During dinner I was having a conversation with a friend sitting opposite us. I said with a grin, “you know our expectations for our kids have changed over the years. At one time we expected great things from them, our bar was pretty high, maybe too high for some so we lowered it. Having a job or career that they enjoyed and being happy was where we placed the bar. But in the last few months since losing Aaron we set the bar even lower. Staying alive was our new expectation.” Rhonda and I laughed, an inside joke. We actually believed this, life became the greatest commodity for our kids as far as we were concerned.

Now I don’t know if I was speaking loud enough for anyone else at the table to hear what I said but I felt like everyone froze in place and stared. I thought my friend who I was directing the comment at was going to need a blood transfusion as I could literally see his face changing color.

I have thought of that scene many times over the years. It never fails to put a smile on my face.

Of course our kids don’t need our high or low expectations nor do we need to lower or raise the bar for them. They will do that on their own, its their life and they will succeed or fail without our help.

But my expectations on life and its outcome  for my children remains the same to this day.

Do what I have to do to keep them alive and trust God that He will help them with the rest.

I Am Not The Victim Here…

In the beginning stages of my journey I had developed some bad habits. Fear was at the top of the list. Fear that I would lose another son or daughter to suicide. I starting monitoring some of their movements with the precision of a tracking device. Watching their every move, their every word, the tone in which they spoke, their attitude. I questioned everything, where are you going, who are you going with, when will you be back, how long will you be out, what is so and so like, where does she live.

They were teenagers for God’s sake. Their alter egos were all over the place, it was impossible to track them all. With all good intention I tried to nip the problem in the bud, confront what could only be described as normal teenage behavior that sent alarm bells ringing in my head.

I was on a mission to stop the next suicide attempt in my family at any cost. I was out of control. I started using strong-arm tactics and I am embarrassed by my actions, and downright horrified because it could have caused some serious damage in their young minds.

When I believed that those I was closely monitoring were moving out of the sphere of my comfort zone I would say to them, “I lost one child already, I am not going to lose you too”.  I was so fearful of losing another I was willing to say anything and the sad part about all this was that I believed it. Fear turned to hysteria. Now I may be over emphasizing my actual actions but that is how I felt inside. I was terrified to lose another and willing to do what I thought was within the framework of my parenting responsibilities.

My kids were as affected if not more by Aaron’s death and here I was putting unfair pressure on their lives because I was fearful for their well-being.

One day I had a wake up call. When one of my teenage daughters was acting out and I gave her my, “I don’t want to lose another child” bit. She retaliated by giving me  a well deserved  verbal slap on the face. She said, “dad, not everything is about you”. I froze. She was right. I had made losing Aaron about me. I took it personal

That dressing down was the best thing that could have happened to me. I thank God for my kids, they are so forgiving.

Fear was the reason I acted the way I did but guilt was the driving force that lead me to the fear.

Unfortunately guilt comes with the territory of having a loved one take his or her life. We can feed it with fear or we can learn to keep it in its place. It’s there ready to pop it head up and devour us if we let it or we can allow the process to run its course and let guilt naturally fade from our lives.

I am a different person these days. Time and the desire to continue my journey no matter the obstacles brought me to higher ground.

The day the guilt vanished was the day I became a survivor. The day I saw my self as a survivor was the day I stopped being a victim.

If we continue to carry the guilt with us  we will never be able to understand what we are fighting for. We are fighting for the survival of our lives, to be able to continue to function in a world that has turned upside down on us.

Guilt carried long enough, will make us believe that we are responsible for the death of our loved one. That is when we play the victim.

I played the victim for too long, I carried the guilt around all these years privately blaming myself for my son’s death.

My guilt and victim tag vanished in one day when I proclaimed to the world;

I am not the victim here, I am a survivor.

 

I’m A Big Boy Now

In the beginning I would visit Aaron’s grave site at least once a week, sometimes more. I would always go alone, I would always cry, I would always cry uncontrollably. Words were at a premium but my tears told the story. If he was listening he got the point.

I only stayed long enough to let him know I was there, that I was hurting and I was mad at him for leaving us so suddenly without warning. It wasn’t fair to me, his mother, his brothers and sisters and his nieces and nephews.

I don’t know if he was still hanging around but I had read that sometimes the spirit of the deceased would stay for a while, sometimes watching the aftermath of their actions or perhaps they even desired to do so before entering the after world.

I had a photo of Aaron put on his headstone so we could always have a face to face on our visits.

He never talked back ,not that I expected it although an explanation would have been good. So many questions left unanswered. But I did make sure  at least one question was asked on every visit.

Why????

Only he knew the answer to that one and he wasn’t talking. Not to me anyway.

My visits would sometimes last no more than three or four minutes, rarely longer and usually shorter. Long enough to let my emotions get away with me.  Where better than a well maintained cemetery where a father can cry publicly and get away with it.

As time wore on and my grief was somewhat under control, I would test my resolve by seeing how long I could be by his grave side looking at his picture before I fell apart. Two seconds were my shortest, unless you count falling apart from the car to the headstone. I don’t count that, its like points being taken away before you get into the boxing ring.

Ten seconds were about the longest I could last.

Months go by and I am still visiting at least once a week without fail. My visits become more of a personal test. I would talk myself up and say, “today, I don’t cry, today I am a big boy”. The harder I tried the more I cried. I have always been an emotional person but this was getting ridiculous although I had no intention of stopping my visits or trying to hold back my emotions.

On one visit, maybe 3 or 4 months after his death, no sooner had I stepped out of the car, that I knew something was different.  As I walked toward his grave a peace came over me I hadn’t felt in years. I knew immediately what it was. Aaron was gone, he was no longer with us or he was no longer tormenting me at his grave.

To this day I don’t know if Aaron let go and made his peace or I let him go.

I was so happy and relieved. I smiled, I laughed, I waved goodbye and of course I cried. But these tears were now tears of joy.

The desire to visit Aaron’s grave after that day vanished. I gave it no more thought. Just like that.

It was months before I visited again. Yes, I cried. It would not have been the same if I hadn’t but the visits became increasingly farther apart each time.

About six months ago I stopped by for a short visit. I wanted to let him know that I am no longer trying to survive his death, that I had become a survivor.

Sitting in the car preparing to go home I smiled. I hadn’t shed a tear.  I laughed out loud.

I whispered…”I’m a big boy now”…well, most of the time.

 

 

 

Don’t Fight The Raging Torrent

I have been spending time reading accounts of those who  have lost a loved one through suicide on  “Alliance of Hope: for suicide survivors“. Reading accounts of those who lost a loved one to suicide when they are in the beginnings stages of grief and guilt ridden brought me back to my early days of trying to survive Aaron’s death. The emotions, grief, guilt, confusion, anger etc is so intense you think your going to die yourself. There are times you think it would be easier to give up than have to endure for another day. You can’t see the future and you can’t know that it happens to all of us who lost a loved one.

To me it was like being thrown into a raging torrent of water that was headed for a waterfall and there was nothing I could do about it. To try to swim against the current was impossible and the reality of  going over the edge of that waterfall was a reality that I didn’t want to accept.

That is what it is like in the beginning. You find yourself in this raging torrent of water, sweeping you down stream, knowing that you will be unceremoniously dumped over the edge and down into the river below. Your survival instincts set in trying everything to find a way to stop your forward progress. A tree branch, a log, brushes peeking up over the water’s surface. Anything to stop your forward motion so you can figure a way to get back to the safety of the shore.

That is the problem in the beginning. We weren’t  prepared for this terrifying ride, we didn’t plan it, it wasn’t in our life’s itinerary so we didn’t know how to react.

If we were prepared or had the advantage of hindsight then we would learn quickly that there is no branches to grab onto, no brushes to stop our forward progress. We were headed for the water fall and its drop and there wasn’t anything we could do about it. What we didn’t know is that we would survive the drop, we would survive the undertow and the waters would eventually stop its tumultuous washing machine like churning on course to our new destination.

We try in the beginning to fight something that is greater than us not realizing we have been set on a path that we never asked for, taking us to a destination most of us never knew existed nor a place we really didn’t want to go.

I say this with over six years of travelling that river, making it safely over the water’s edge, surviving the drop ino the raging torrent of water that would sweep me down stream away from the comforts of my old life. A journey I didn’t ask for. I am still travelling down that river knowing that I will never be able to go back to where I started.

It wasn’t an overnight acceptance, even when the waters eased I still looked for a way back to the way it was.  It actually took me six and a half years to understand this and accept my fate, a fate that has brought me to realizing that my life not only will never be the same but that I was put in this position so that some day I may in some small way help those who are struggling to survive suicide navigate their way down stream.

We who have travelled through this raging torrent know that once you have been thrown into the deep end there is no going back. Life will never be the same but as a consolation to those who are at the beginning stages of this river’s journey there is a place where the waters calm and flow at a more leisurely pace.

You can never go back and  once you get far enough down stream away from the danger of the river’s raging torrent, you will understand more fully the new path you have been put on.

Our Special Family Day

For better understanding you may want to read About This Blog first.

Aaron’s memorial was on a Tuesday, the following Sunday happened to be Mother’s Day. Since all our family was together for the first time in years we decided to get together and celebrate mum’s day in a local park for a BBQ.

The weather was perfect and we had a 100% attendance. The mood was light and cheery, a big weight had been taken off all our shoulders as the memorial and burial weighed heavily on our hearts.

It was nice to be outdoors in the sunshine, the little ones feeding the ducks by the pond. Plenty of food and drink and more happy faces and laughing than what I expected. It had been so long since I have witnessed all my children together of all ages the eldest being about thirty-six and the youngest eleven. The grandchildren mingling with their aunts and uncles some of who were the same age gave me a feeling of joy and pride I hadn’t experienced for such a long time. It was a great day.

A regular occurrence at our past family gatherings was full on sport or games. Touch football, cricket, baseball, soccer, capture the flag etc,with all getting involved. This day was no different.

I was right in the thick of it pushing, shoving, yelping, hollering, shouting, cheering. I usually had  to relinquish my competitive sportsman like in your face hands on participation for the referees whistle keeping the peace and making sure that  everyone went home in one piece. An overly competitive family thanks to me.

The only wave of sadness came on me when everyone was running around laughing, yelling, arguing,  teasing, pushing and high fives going every which way.

This is where Aaron thrived. In the middle of all the action. Actually he was the one who instigated getting us all out of our lounge chairs and on the playing field no matter where we were or how many we had. He usually started most arguments too.

I was never so proud of my family watching from the sidelines each one touched by Aaron’s death in their own special way but putting aside their grief to just have fun. Soon we would all return to our respective homes and have to deal more personally on the events of the week.

But not this day. This day was special.

As the “games” and pent-up energy was released on the playing fields and as the sun was about to set, Before packing up one of my girls suggested to everyone, “why don’t we make this our annual family day. We don’t get together like this too often any more, most of us have our own families now and Christmas is no longer our family get together. Why don’t we make this time each year our Special Family Day, Aaron’s day.”

Hence the beginning our yearly get together. It has become our special day. We get together, we eat, we drink we play games. We talk, we catch up, we hug and laugh together. We shed a tear or two, maybe more but very rarely mention Aaron. We don’t have too. We know why we get together each year. We’re family and Aaron is here with us each time we get together because he lives in our hearts forever.

The Blame Game

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.