Split in Two

It was a month ago yesterday. A day split in two…spent jumping across a great divide between a mountain of horror and one of profound joy. And then back again. The beginning of a surreal progression of hours and days trying to make sense of the first part. While rejoicing in the second part. I had no head space for much of anything else.

Part One:

Are you sitting down? My youngest sister’s first words hit me like a tidal wave when I answered the phone. I could barely understand anything else she was trying to say. Through the tears. And the terror…as her voice rose in pitch.
What is it? Please slow down! I can’t understand you.
Are You Sitting Down?
I had just finished lunch. I sat back down.
In bits and pieces she told me…our other sister’s only son had killed himself. He was found the next day, alone in his apartment. No No No The despair filled my heart and it broke. It broke for my other sister and her daughter and the unimaginable loss of a son and brother. It broke for the rest of the family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfather, a niece & nephew. My son and daughter had visited their cousins last fall. The last time they would ever see him.
Why? Do you know why?
No, there wasn’t a note. We asked each other…But how can this be? He was such a kind and gentle soul. We went back and forth in disbelief for a few minutes, both of us crying & shouting and trying to understand the enormity of it.
No No No this can’t be real. He was only 34 years old. My mind flew back 20+ years to family reunions and to when he came along on several family vacations with us. He and my son became close and were sweet playmates during those times…separated in age by only a year. That’s how I will always remember him…the smart, funny, kind of goofy kid who told me when he was 11 that he wanted to be a businessman when he grew up. And that’s what he did.

My son (on the right) & his cousin, 1996


As it often happens, family gatherings and reunions became fewer and farther between as the years went by. Eventually just limited to weddings…and funerals. I hadn’t seen my nephew in person since his older sister got married in 2013, when he walked her down the aisle…their father long since passed.

You figure there’s always time. Until there isn’t. You think someone is okay because they act like they are. But sometimes they aren’t. Do we see what we want to see or do we need to look deeper…ask more questions? Are we afraid to do just that? Afraid of the dark places ourselves? I really don’t know. I also don’t know how his mom…my sister…will ever survive her grief…as strong as she is.

Part Two:

One hour after my sister’s call…a text message from my son-in-law…we are in the hospital. My daughter was 9 months pregnant and this surely meant good news. Two hours later…my cell phone dings with another text message. Up pops a photo of my daughter, son-in-law and their brand new baby girl…snuggled on her mother’s chest cozy as can be. My little granddaughter was born right on her due date – healthy, safe and perfect in every way. The photos kept coming and filled me with a soft ray of hope and calm as I fell in love with her on the spot…even though I live 500 miles away. That night we met on FaceTime and I gratefully lept over the divide to the mountain of profound joy…on the day split in two.

One month – and one week long visit later – and I am still rejoicing.
Thank you sweet girl.

34 thoughts on “Split in Two

  1. I finally found peace after someone I loved took his life by “saying” to him: ‘OK, Jim, if that’s what you wanted to do, I need to respect your choice and honor you.’ It helped with the other voices in my head, and the unanswered questions.

    I don’t have grandchildren, but I understand from 90% of the people I know who do that it’s a grand, joyful, life-changing experience! Lucky you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Ellen, for sharing your thoughts about such a difficult experience. It is hard to know what to do or what to feel. All those “whys” haunt those who are left behind. I really appreciate hearing what could help.
      And, yes, grandchildren are indeed…grand. This little girl joins her 5 year old brother, so now I am blessed with two. ❤️

      Like

  2. What an insanely manic day. I have no useful words other than having been on the brink of suicide myself, I KNOW no one wants to do it. Some very young people do it because they don’t understand what death is, but your nephew was old enough. NO ONE CHOOSES IT. People do it because for one miserable scary moment they don’t see any other alternative. It’s no one’s fault. The causes are inscrutable. My heart goes out to you and your whole family, in particular your sister and her husband. I’m so very very very very sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Martha. It was indeed an insane and manic day. It still feels surreal. We will never really know why he did it. A disconnect from reality in one dark series of moments perhaps. Or something. The funeral was surreal as well. I just wish he had reached out for help. My sister and my niece are in a lot of pain and healing will take a very long time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it was me, I sincerely felt that there was only one way out of a pit that I literally saw as if I were at the bottom of it. I was wrong and thankfully someone was there. Like war, it shouldn’t make sense to people in the midst of normal life. That’s what makes it so excruciating and makes healing from the pain so difficult. ❤ I don't think people do recover. They just keep on keeping on.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh Martha, thankfully someone was there…oh my. It is like war, isn’t it. I hadn’t thought of it like that.
        That was my first thought – how could a parent or sibling ever heal from such a profound loss? Just keep on keeping on makes more sense, if any sense can be made. Thank you. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A baby girl – so precious! Congratulations!

    The news of a young person dying, especially by suicide is unfathomable grief. I am so sorry to hear of this loss.

    I hope you are able to care for yourself while straddling these two worlds.

    Liked by 1 person

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