Today it has been a week. A week of never ending questions that will probably go unanswered until I see Jesus face to face. A week of deep sorrow for the loss of a truly wonderful friend. A week without our daily chats and smiles. A week without Tony. This week that seems as if it will stretch into eternity.
A man I spoke to nearly every day, whom I thought I knew well, who was a neighbor, but more than that, a good friend, took his own life a week ago today. I am still processing this. He was the person in my life who daily encouraged me that our family was doing OK. He was the friend who would help if he could (it was a rare thing if he couldn't) and cheer you on if it was out of his reach. He was a bear of a man, solid, and sure. He loved my children, really loved them, and noticed the little things about them, like the light in their eyes on a particularly great day, or the set of their jaw on a particularly rough day. He never failed to reach out and say hello, even when I was in a funk and it was obvious I didn't want to talk, he said hello anyway. He loved his wife and his children with ferocity and tenderness that only a truly large man like Tony was can pull off. And yet, he was hurting so much that he took his own life with no warning. And we are all left to ask the unanswerable questions of why.
His wife asks why. His children ask why. His family asks why. His friends and coworkers ask why. His neighbors ask why. Our family asks why. The neighborhood children ask why. And we have NO ANSWERS for any of them. The only answer we have today is that somewhere in the depths of his soul, he was in horrible amounts of pain. The problem is, not one person knew it. He had deep hurts that seemed insurmountable, and yet no one knew... Beyond the question of why is the question of how. How is it possible that a person that you see every day, who is always uplifting and helpful and sweet, can be so very hurt on the inside and no one in their life can see it. How can a person hide that well from everyone in their life? Putting on a facade for the neighbors, friends, and coworkers I can see, but how do you hide that from your spouse, your children? The questions seem to hit me like a ton of bricks when I'm not looking.
His wife is staying with a friend in town for the time being, and we are taking care of the house. But every time she comes home, there are the questions. Do we go over and offer to help her? Does she want to be alone? Should we leave her alone? Should we try to pick up his things that are all over the house? Should we leave everything the way it was and let her heal in the midst of it all? How does one heal from someone else's deadly wounds? How does a person heal from the loss of their spouse? I cannot fathom it. I.just.CAN'T.
I look around these days and wonder. How many of my friends have contemplated suicide in secret? How many people in my life just skim the surface and not let people into the dark places where they need help? Are you one of them? Today, I tell you, I am here!!! I can take your pain, I can take your reality, I can take your dark places. I cannot, however, take losing you, any of you. My life may seem crazy and complicated to some of you, but there's always room for more complicated and crazy here. Bring me your complicated and crazy, I'll take it over these unanswered questions any day.