Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

1995. I sat at my mother’s bedside. She was nervous, and constantly batted at the IVs going into her body. Her hazel green eyes were foggy with morphine. A tube was inserted into her throat so she could breathe. She was dying of emphysema.

Mom battled the disease for years. there were countless hospital stays that I was kept unaware of. This last time, my brother called me from Reno and asked me to come down. It was the end, he was certain. My father had asked me to stay home, but I took my brother’s advice and flew down. My dad was happy to see me.

Mom would have smiled, if she could have. She clenched my hand. She tried to pull the tubes out. The morphine pulled her away from us.

Individually, we went to the nurse’s station. “Mom doesn’t want the tubes. Please remove the tubes.”

“You know she will die?”

“She knows she will die. She wants the tubes removed.”

Three of us. Three of us who had to consent. I have to admit, it felt a little like murder. I wanted my mom to stay here. I wanted to hear her ring on the telephone when she called. I wanted to spend an hour on a Sunday evening talking to her. I wanted her advice on love, children, marriage. I needed her political opinion. I wanted her to see my children grow and to know them.

Instead, my 10 year old daughter sang at my mother’s funeral.

I remember the last words I spoke to my mother. I leaned in and told her that we were allowing staff to remove the tubes. Mom’s drugged eyes looked relieved.  “I love you,” I said. “I want to say ‘good-bye’. I know you are going to do what you want to do. It’s OK.”

My mom’s spirit smiled at this admission: she was Scots-stubborn. You couldn’t talk her out of a decision. I knew – and she knew – that she willed the tubes out of her body so she could just leave Hell. Mom believed life on earth was the only Hell a Christian would know, and life on earth is Hell. She left us within the hour.

2011. My brother and I were cleaning out the house. Dad was gone. There was so much we had to come to terms with. like the oxygen tank in the corner.

Terry pulled out the medications Dad had been prescribed to help his COPD and his heart. The last one used was in March of 2011. It was May of 2011. Dad quit taking his meds two months earlier.

I have known a lot of suicides. The first one was when I was 16. There were many between my 16th birthday and my 18th. They slowed down for awhile. Then my husband and I attended funerals for two suicides back-to-back. We literally walked out of one funeral and drove to the next. Men we knew & loved & respected.

The pastors who spoke at those two funerals preached not of hell and condemnation, but of hope and life and healing. No longer was the suicide condemned to hell by the church, but the church wondered if there was not a grace to cover suicide.

My parents committed suicide. It wasn’t an overt act like jumping off a bridge or putting a gun to their head. They pulled tubes out of their arms or quit taking medications. They understood the consequence: they would die. They chose death over life.

I hurt for my loss. I hurt for the loss of Robin Williams’ family. But more than I hurt, I understand. I have hope.

There is a place – a much better place than the ‘heaven’ portrayed in “What Dreams May Come” where the suicide was caught in a web of repeating her painful decisions. I believe – I hope – my parents and Robin Williams – are in a better place. I hope all the suicides I have known found that place.

Let us be short to judge and long to forgive. We don’t know what is in the heart of a person and we don’t know the pain.

For me: I only know the pain of the survivor. I choose to forgive.

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