I now write, speak and dedicate all of my personal and professional resources to aiding in an answer to why our children are dying at the rate of every 40 seconds around the world. I am a United States Army Veteran, who has never been in combat. Yet, 22 of my brothers and sisters in arms die each day from the rigors of PTSD, Depression and Traumatic Brain-Stem Injury related mental health issues.
A reliable narrator would say that his family suffered post traumatic stress disorder from the time he was five. He would tell you that he was the reason for that, honestly and without shame. I was trapped in this ever reinforcing cycle of shame, hate and regret. I punished people who loved me. They never understood why. Honestly, neither did I. So, I started to wonder if I was an unreliable narrator.
I am not a writer. I throw commas at a sentence like I am playing darts. My son placed a punctuation mark on my life that set a standard for my writing, so I want to learn. I am just a guy who figuratively climbed into the grave with my kid two years ago. When he died two years prior to that I figuratively stepped over his dead body, as I had literally stepped over bodies before. Two years ago I finally succumbed to my final and most deadly father, Shame.
I have a deep faith, a very strong faith, that is based in miraculous events I have witnessed in my life. I am reticent to name the being, or beings, of my faith simply because they chose to identify themselves as “I am” once long ago. To a great man, well beyond my caliber by the name of Moses, but who also knew something about wandering lost in the wilderness of the desert.
My son killed himself because he fell in love. It is that simple, truly. A love that he never knew because the world was a cold hard place, and I taught him that without reminding him that it was full of love as well. I am responsible for his life because he was given to me. I was to be that stable bow, from which his arrow flew into the future which was beyond my vision. I failed. I failed because of shame. I never failed to love him and he always felt the same.
I was kissing my daughter goodnight last night and I said “Promise not to stay up late and watch television”. Such a sweet little routine that we do each night but last night she peeped up and yelled “Cross My Heart Daddy!”. I found myself in tears but did not wish her to see them so I told my wife and she smiled a sad smile. “I know honey, she is just a kid”.
I watched a comedian perform the other night and I said something to him, via the world wide web. I made a comment on a video and I honestly just didn’t think about it again. Now, late at night I get a message and he says, “Hey, did you post on my timeline?”. Now, amazingly enough I have no idea who this guy is and it turns out he is a pretty famous guy in his own right, and I will not say who he is. Anyone who knows me, knows that my celebrity friends enjoy a great anonymity with me in public.
I listened to them, they called like you said. I was quiet and they shared their pain. Even the ones that didn’t lose a child, I listened to them to. I tell people now that my brand is grief, that my niche is suicide and my name is parent. I got that right, didn’t I? It’s not about me, it’s about something bigger than me, isn’t it?
People often ask me, “How do you do it”? My answer is simply that “I can’t, not alone”. Now, believe me I honestly gave it my best effort and I was a good soldier. That is something my grandfather, and our family in general because that was how it was in the 1960s, used to say to me when I was a little boy. Being a good soldier was important.