My three children and one young man are the only people who ever called me “Mom.”
This young man struggled with making bad decisions. He always came for advice before and after he made a bad decision. Sometimes he followed my counsel, but mostly he did not. I loved him, so I would always speak the truth to him. Our long history taught him that I would never sugarcoat what he needed to hear, yet he kept coming back for more.
After his mother died he took to calling me Mom. He was a young man, with adult responsibilities. He seemed to never be able to grow up enough to shoulder being a grown up. Dennis and I loved him and his family. We had history. We had worked hard side by side, laughed, prayed and cried together. He was our MacGyver. For years during the workday, he was just within the sound of my voice, always ready to come to my aid. Sometimes he literally put out fires for me.
For years we tried to help him, guide him and walk with him through his personal demons. I began to fear as time progressed that someday his recklessness would leave his children fatherless. After drugs entered his life, we lost the ability to reach him at all. He stopped wanting to hear the truth. He grew angry, sullen and dangerous. We fought against the tide of darkness that was consuming him. We watched it carry him away before our very eyes. Eventually we had to say goodbye and it broke my heart. A few months later he came back, clean, sober and apologetic, but it didn’t last. Drugs won. We all lost.
Later he ran away from all of his responsibilities. He gave in completely to his craving to be irresponsible. For years now there never seemed to be any good news about him. He continued to drift away into the darkness. We prayed. We hoped. I longed for a day in which I would pick up the phone to hear him on the other end calling me Mom again.
Last night I read an ominous Facebook post from his ex-wife. I knew it was bad news about him. I prayed it was just another stumble . . . but it wasn’t. My old friend, my MacGyver, took his own life. In his wake he left behind five children and a field of devastation.
A million “what ifs” and “if onlys” that I know are senseless, are running through my mind. He lived as a man-child, he died a man-child. His recklessness left five young kids to grow up fatherless. They have to face tomorrow knowing that their father gave up. I’m angry for them. I’m hurt for them. I’m broken for them.
As his adopted “mom,” I am disappointed and saddened along with a dozen other emotions mixed in. There are no winners today. In my mind I can imagine his remorseful face coming to talk to me after a bad decision. I wish he had the opportunity to regret the idea of suicide, regret the thoughts of suicide, or regret the consequences of an attempted suicide. But instead, it is completely final. No more second chances.
This morning hoarfrost covered the fields outside my window. It was a cold grey morning. A deep sorrow invaded my sleep leaving me weary. I can only wish that there was one more chance to hope, one more chance for my lost friend to grow up, one more chance for his children to grow up in his shadow. Instead, we are all left with a handful of memories, grief, regret and love.
If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. For you there are still second chances and third chances and beyond. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1 (800) 273-8255.