Driving Home

By: pbcmedia

Jun 25 2008

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: 1, Death, Depression, Family, Life, Personal, Photography


Focal Length:18.633mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon PowerShot SD850 IS

Razzman asked me in the comment section of “Local Knowledge Necessary”: “where have you been?”

I left on Monday to go to Cape Cod to attend the wake and funeral, and as it turned out, to have the privilege to eulogize a beautiful talented 26 year old girl who had killed herself.

Her family had the courage to let the truth be told of her long battle with bipolar disease to the hundreds of mourners bursting the walls of the church and spilling out on to the street on a humid summer day.

All who attend a service like this, all over the world, come for the same reason: their hearts are broken, confused, grief stricken, and, yes, angry. It is not sadness alone that drives a person to take their own life and it is not sadness alone that their families and friends feel. To speak the truth always takes courage, but at a time like this? It takes a mother and father whose love surpasses all understanding.

At the end of the long day, the Mass, the Burial, the going back to the family’s beautiful Gatsby like home, on a day that began with sunlight but ended with thunderstorms and intermittent torrential rain, we, the lucky ones, each got in our car to drive home.

We got on our interstates or local roads and drove through showers back to our families, our children, or in my case, my two foot high cilantro and overflowing flowering window boxes.

We had done what we could do which simply was to show up.

But, this is a day that does not end for the family. There is no forward gear shift or entrance ramp to the highway. The father is not loosening his tie, or the mother changing into sandals and putting her feet up, or her boyfriend, her brother and sisters piling into the car and looking through the beauty of a rain streaked window to a brightening sky ahead.

Her family’s road back has not yet been built.

God love them all, and just so you know, I shall never forgive you, divine person or man or woman or whoever you are, if indeed you exist at all, for breaking these tender hearts. Never. Ever. Do you hear me?

©2008 Pat Coakley


10 comments on “Driving Home”

  1. Pat,
    that’s terribly sad. Suicide has touched my life, too, and it leaves a devastating legacy. My heart goes out to your friends. I can’t help thinking, though, that they’re lucky to have loyal and feeling friends like you.

  2. Pat, I have just sent your words to my kid in England who called me absolutely heartbroken yesterday with the story of a suicide which sounds very similar to the one you described. You are so right with everything you said.

    My heart goes out to those family who have been left behind by her selfishness. I wish she would have reached out for help.

    Im so sorry for your loss… sending you a hug.

  3. Let’s face it, we all have sad stories with this subject. To the healthy person it may seem selfish but the person with the disease is so disconnected from the logical world that the two way street concept is also gone. Demons are not logical or sensitive to those who have them or those who live around them. Maybe one day, along with cancer, they’ll find a cure for it. I am going to turn my attention to nathaliewithah’s meme challenge. I was skeptical of it but now I think it’s going to be a welcome diversion. Stay tuned.

  4. Ah Pat I was wondering if you would take me up on my meme challenge supreme.

    How sad to hear about the tragedy but I would not characterize this poor girl as selfish (unless she had children in which case I might concur with Amber.)

    Maybe selfishness would be not to let her go…

  5. A sadly poignant, and heart wrenching story. Parents’ heartbreak is the hardest to reconcile.
    As I look at the window in the rain on the top of your post, it brings to mind that at alternating times in all of our lives, we take turns being on the ” other ” side of the glass.
    When it’s our turn on the dark side, every laughing person is alien, every child playing is a cruel joke.
    Do we remind ourselves enough that when we’re dancing on the dry, and joyous side of life, that we had better laugh, deep, stupidly loud belly laughs before they change the sides on us, unexpectedly?

    This terribly sad event is a reminder to us all…..

  6. I’m so sorry to hear the motive for your trip. I was hoping that it was something pleasant for you.

    I used to live with a woman who was bipolar and what I learnt from the experience was that I didn’t have the skills to help. That’s the thing with mental illness, it’s not a matter of reason, and as such it can’t be reasoned with. Just saying cheer up and stop feeling sorry for yourself has no effect when someone’s happy button doesn’t work because of depression. I know because I’ve seen it and the despair of a depressed person is way beyond that normal people.

    Nobody who was involved with that poor girl should blame themselves. It wasn’t their fault. It was the fault of bad brain chemistry.

    “I shall never forgive you, divine person or man or woman or whoever you are, if indeed you exist at all, for breaking these tender hearts. Never. Ever. Do you hear me?”

    My wife’s brother (a brilliant scholar who won the university medal) died in a car accident as he was taking some boy scouts home from a camping trip that he’d taken them on as a scout leader. Up until that time my in-laws were religious people but such a tragedy turned them away from the church and god.

    I think what Epicurus had to say about such things still rings true today.

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    By the way that is a very beautiful and apt photograph

  7. Yes, nathaliewithanh, I’ve got an idea for this meme but so far that’s all it is!
    Discussions of selfishness are very understandable and it certainly “appears” to be that. But, ‘selfishness” implies that a person is actually making a choice to meet his or her needs over another. The sad and often irritating and angering fact is that despite being able to function in some higher level areas, and giving the appearance of making a choice, they don’t have the inner architecture to support “the other” on any consistent basis. When you’ve got this terrible disease, you can have kids or not (this young woman did not) but the disease drives you into darkness despite the responsibilities or innocents dependent on you.

    Ah, Bonnieluria- you are so right about our time stamp on the “other side of the glass”…a good thing to remember at a time like this.

    Razzman, yes, I would definitely have preferred “an assignation” or an art exhibit! Maybe its in my future! If I take Bonnieluria’s advice, I’d better get dancing while I can. Your personal story says it all. We don’t have the skills to help nor sadly the skills to live with a person with such profound issues. Epicurus really rings true to me. Thanks so much for that. I’d never seen that before. I totally understand how others can be invested in religion and respect the presence and force it plays in their life. In some ways, I’m envious of them. But, I gave up pretending years ago.

    I’ve not been able to read my blogmates this week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make up for lost time tomorrow. It’s something that I now rely on for stimulation and ideas and laughter. How did all this happen in two and half months?? Wow. Thanks, all.

  8. I have no words to utter for I have been where this poor girl has been, I am indeed sad that she succeeded but can understand the need of relief. There are too many factors to compartmentalise with no rationality to be had.
    We have all been touched by this kind of senseless death, I say senseless because I am alive and speaking to you when I could be long gone, it was a close call. Senseless is my perception and isn’t reality, only she could’ve known what she could take and not take, perhaps it was senseful.
    At the end of the day I agree with all of the above, I agree that the act of taking ones life is selfish although I never thought of it like that while “in the mix”, I agree that only the person who finds themselves in that dark place knows. In these situations the family and the friends can only let them know that they love them and there for them they can’t keep the person alive unless they want to be.
    I am so sorry, I wasn’t going to say much and now I’ve written my own post, guess it is very close to my heart from losing someone and then from my own experience, apologies.
    All I was going to say was *huge hugs to you* so ignore all the above!

  9. Thanks you, Sanity, for saying more than huge hugs. I think you may help people understand this very difficult state with your words. “You can’t keep someone alive unless they want to be..” How powerful that simple sentence, chilling. And, I’m sure I can speak for all your blogmates: how grateful all of us are that you decided you wanted to live. Just from my “locale”, sometimes it is your words that help me understand what I’ve just photographed! Wows to your gifts. Don’t ever forget them.

  10. Thanks for your kind words, means a lot, perhaps kind is too cold a word… Stars in a night sky is what you all are, brighten the once darkened sky sparkling humour and life for all around. Dang now I am singing twinkle twinkle little star!!!

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