Remembering Robin Williams, remembering Joey Caparros………Remembering is so hard for the survivors of suicide. This week has been a hard week for any of us that have experienced the after math of this tragic awful thing in our lives. My heart has been broken for the William’s family. It is 3:19 AM on August 14, 2014 as I write this. Sleep escapes me as I am thinking of the day exactly 8 years ago today that my beloved, confused, heart-wrenched son completed suicide. I will never forget the phone call I received, the shock that I felt, the guilt that ensued, the anger that started building and the complete emptiness that followed. I was devastated. Our lives consisted of before Joey and after Joey. I watched my other two children hurt, wrestle, question and cry out in their own hearts…….Why????? That is the question that we all asked many times after. EVERYONE felt guilt along with the deep grief in losing of our Joey. Those two feelings tear a hole in the heart and the spirit like no other. A heart can only hold so much pain. We all suffered much after he left us.
My first few months after losing Joey were filled with torment that I must have been the worst mother in the entire world; I was definitely the worst therapist in the world and should quit. If only I had…… became my regret all that first year. Why didn’t I call Joey on August 13 and talk with him? Why didn’t I see this more clearly? Why did he do this? They were endless questions with really no answers. The complete first year after his death was a blur (and the next 2 weren’t much better). I couldn’t tell you what I did, except put one foot in front of the other, get up and dress every morning, and just move through life with a big pit in my stomach that felt a lot like fear. I later read a book by CS Lewis, A Grief Observed, where he described grief as having the same feeling inside as fear. That helped me to at least feel “normal”.
I learned that we all grieve in our own unique ways. I stayed away from anyone who urged me to get over it or move faster than I could. I set up a shrine in my house with Joey’s picture and a little statue of a guardian angel that I hoped had carried him to God that day that he suffered his last breath and last bit of pain. I worried if he was ok now. I worried…..I worried…..I worried just as any mother does about their child. I asked WHY a million times. I put puzzle pieces together to try to figure out why my son was in such immense pain that he would rather jump off the world than stay here with us and live life. I planted a little memorial gardn in my front yard. God send a huge Sunflower in the middle of it that next summer. Long story short…..we suffered.
Now 8 years down the road many things are still not clear, but God has been gracious and generous to us. I know Joey is with God. I have amazing stories of how God showed me that Joey was ok. My journey “after Joey” has been painful, but full of growth, Joy and celebration of life. I have two other children that bring me joy. I can say a thank you to them because they made me want to survive and to move through the pain. I am glad that I didn’t quit being a mom and a therapist. With the greatest suffering comes, some of the greatest joy and defiantly the greatest growth. I developed a relationship with God that is has depth and meaning as never before.
Surviving Suicide is the hardest single thing I have ever done in my life. It caused my children to grow up way too fast and discover a harsh reality that I wish I could have protected them from ever seeing. I know that those of you that also survived have this automatic bond with us if you are reading this. I am immediately drawn to moms who have lost children. It’s uncanny the feeling of empathy and love that comes over me when I meet them. This one thing I can say for certain about the Robin Williams family……They will suffer and they will miss him much. My heart is broken for them as they begin the slow, painful journey back to life. It will be a life that is changed forever. It will never be the same. They will survive, but they will need support. None of us will EVER get over it (for those of you that uncomfortable with pain).
I purposely have left out any statistics about suicide. This is just a personal thought about the experience of being the one left behind. You can look them up and probably have seen many of the statistics reading about Robin Williams. I am not ignoring the growing problem, in fact I have studied about it and know the “facts” but I wanted to just write my own feelings this morning.
It is now 4:30 AM. I can hear a cricket outside singing. It reminds me that I am alive and well after the storm. I have a fascination with birds since I lost Joey. They begin their songs about this time as the morning is beginning for them. I guess I imagine that Joey can fly now. He was always intrigued with speed. He loved roller coasters and racecars. I know that his pain has ended and He is in another dimension in heaven. I can now remember the good things and I can now be hopeful that I will see him again only this time he won’t be depressed. He will have that sparkle back in his eyes that he used to have on Christmas morning and the Fourth of July. I am anxiously awaiting that moment (His head stone on his grave says, “We will miss your sparkle”)…..but until then I have learned to live my life again. I have moved to a place of happiness and contentment again. God has sent me a wonderful man that doesn’t tell me to get over it, but he has helped to heal me just a bit more in that he will listen to my stories about Joey and smile with me. He explained to me that Joey got his sparkle from me. That was an epiphany to me that for some reason helped me beyond words. Grieving has its moments that are just unexplainable how you begin to come alive, one epiphany at a time.
I will now go back to bed and hope to sleep. One thing for sure I can say to any of you that are in the middle of this……There is life after suicide…..it’s out there just keep moving and breathing…You will see beauty again. Just sparkle again.
If you have a story or thoughts about this I welcome your response. It would be comforting to me to hear how you have chosen to get through the storm. God bless and comfort the Williams family and any other family that is suffering from this today.