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. 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.
Cheri Perry says
I am so sorry for your loss Kayla- may you be able to reflect on your treasured memories for the days and years to come!! Thinking of you and praying for that peace that passes all understanding! Dean and Cheri
Kathy lines says
I can’t believe what has happened, such a sad situation and I hope your story will help others who may be thinking of suicide.
Suicides are perhaps the most difficult of all types of deaths because we often believe they are preventable; “if only” haunts our every waking moment and wakes us from slumber.
When we least expect to be comforted, sometimes a stranger will reach out their heart with their eyes, a barely discernible smile but somehow we know deep within there is a message from the one who left us yearning for one more chance.
I am grieved to read about your loss and the terrible tragedy this young man’s actions have visited upon his children and other loved ones.
His despair was unreachable, so please do not punish yourself. He was determined to do it “his way”. That is, after all, also God’s way – He gave us free will and he offers us forgiveness and peace when we mess up.
Your “child” will remain forever in your heart and memories. He will also be waiting for you, his children, and all who are forevermore changed because of knowing him, suffering with him, and grieving him.
Take solace, Kayla. God will comfort you in ways you don’t understand. There is a purpose in all things.
This really hit home for me. I’m personally dealing with a family member with mental illness. Your man-child is very similar to that of my mother. She has not taken her life, but she has let a gambling addiction consume her and continues to make bad decisions daily.
Over the course of several years, her children (my siblings) are falling off the support wagon – one by one. I find that I’m fighting this battle alone some days. We all need someone in our corner and more importantly the feeling that someone understands us and is willing to help in our darkest times.
I will keep this family in my prayers.
Debra Sturdevant says
So sorry for the sadness this has left you with Kayla. Let us hope the healing you found through putting pen to paper will touch and possibly prevent another soul in making such a tragic decision. Our own family has witnessed the effects of this act on those left behind through a friend’s son’s suicide. I think the one emotion I had not expected to see in family & friends was the anger that seemed to highlight the loss and sadness…anger directed at the senseless act as well as the person’s choice to not allow friends to help. Ultimately we are blessed with the freedom of choice. The choices we make certainly effect all who travel in our wake. Sending prayers your way.