Balanced on a cliff’s edge, we plod through the days. Most return to work because we need the routine and diversion, and of course, the income. A memorial service is planned, airfare discussed for the distant one, more gatherings in living rooms to figure out what to do next. His sister mentions that she’s been journaling; you agree that getting the thoughts out is better than holding them in but vocalizing is not yet possible because the wall holding back the tears is tissue-paper thin. The Mr seems to have found some solace in the mundane task of gathering, washing, sorting, and folding the lost one’s clothes; we set aside a few chosen items as mementos. The parents select what the lost one will wear for today’s appointment.
Anger gives way to profound sadness as you contemplate what the lost one must have been feeling to have made this choice. You can’t help but think about the days where nobody suspected a problem, and the one person that most needed help remained silent. Guilt washes over you as you wonder if you missed some signal, overlooked a hint. You make donations to organizations that shouldn’t exist but you are glad they do, even if they did not help prevent this tragedy. There is no indication that the lost one reached out to anyone. You think about his demeanor when you saw him last, examine every interaction over the past few months looking for clues. Nothing, nothing.
This new normal has a hole in it, one with sharp edges just waiting to tear open our fragile control. You examine your pain and cannot fathom how much deeper it must be for the parents. Yes, the lost one was like a brother but he was not your son. You think of your sons and step quickly back because you cannot, will not, consider that possibility. You force your attention to something much less painful, to figuring out what you can do to ease some responsibilities – because you know you cannot ease their grief.