Merry Christmas! This letter will be sent late because I procrastinated on a few letters. Oh well, better late than never. I hope you're surviving this dreadfully cold weather this Winter. It was a chilly and rainy day today. And you know me, I can't stand the cold! Surprisingly, I had the energy this morning to go to church, even though I told myself that it is ridiculous to go out in this weather!
But I'm glad I did. The sermon was very nice and the church was bustling with people in high spirits. I even came across good friends of mine that I haven't seen in a while. It's always a treat to see missed faces. They invited me to sit with them during mass. After mass we chatted long after. It was then that I was informed of something unfortunate.
Marge, my long time friend that I've known since high school recently lost her son to suicide. He was married for twelve years to a wonderful woman. They had a son together after he came back from service. His son was only two when he lost his daddy. Needless to say I was in tears. I was there when Marge conceived him. I went to his wedding. When they moved I hardly heard from him.
I wished him the best and prayed for his safety during his deployment. Marge would visit me when she was anxious with news, good or bad. When he returned we both hoped he would be able to settle with his wife. It was too short-lived a thought. It was heartbreaking to realize this. I didn't quite know what else I could say in her position, besides understanding how painful it is to lose a beloved.
Most of the time, children are exoected to outlive their parents, but when a parent loses a child, it's something no parent should endure. It's our job to protect you from all harm in the world, and to us we fail when you suffer so. Unfortunately in suicide, it reminds us that sometimes we can't protect our child from everything. I can't protect you from your inner demons.
There are battles we all face on our own, mostly within ourselves. Everyone has them. We all make choices as to how to approach and overcome them. And all we can do is stand on the sidelines cheering you on. There is comfort in knowing you are surrounded by loved ones who are here to help you at any time; to listen, console, and guide. We will not give up on you, so never give up on yourself.
I'm aware that that is not always the case though. There are children who have quite the opposite experiences. Marge confessed she wasn't there for her son in the beginning nor towards adulthood. She gave him shelter, food, finances, but she failed taking action when she saw warnings that he was depressed, deprived of comfort and guidance growing up, and miscommunication didn't help either.
A wall was built between them, which again is not uncommon. Marge was an alcoholic at the time if I recall, although a kind person. I knew she was still fighting her battles she's had since her husband's affair. I couldn't do much for her as a friend. You can't help someone who isn't willing to change. Those years between us were quiet and distant due to our different beliefs.
I told Marge that no one is responsible for your life other than yourself. People may influence, and there are particular responsibilities loved ones will wish to take in order to help you, but what you do with your life is your own choice. It wasn't the best advice I could give her, but I wanted to tell her that what her son did was his choice. It was just an unfortunate one.
Perhaps it could have been avoided, I said, but we don't know that for certain either. He needed help from the beginning, and Marge realized her mistakes after finding God according to her. By this time, he was already an independent adult. She tried to reach out to him, and he wasn't willing to open up his world to her after all these years.
It is all such a shame. I truly wished even I had attempted to step in and help them when I saw the signs myself, but I did what I was supposed to do at the time; stand by and wait until they decided they needed my help, that would prove they are willing to change and open their minds to other options.
I am telling you this because I know somewhere in your lifetime, you will come across these situations and need to know where to stand on them. As much as you want to help someone, it is up to them to take your hand when you reach out to them. It is up to loved ones to decide they can't win their battles alone. It is a hard concept most cannot accept.
It's fine if you think otherwise. I trust your judgement. Never force kindness, for that might push them back farther away from you. Let them know you are there for them. And keep in mind you are limited in the help you can give. You can't cure them of their depression or fight their demons for them. Even giving a listening ear can do wonders for them.
I apologize for this long letter, and for my message being less than uplifting. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and it left me feeling hopeless a bit. I'm doing well though. After talking for about two hours with Marge, we ate at a nice restaurant and laughed and shared stories. I was able to be there for Marge as she was going through so much pain then, and now.
I'm glad she reached out to me. I am also gracious knowing I can still call her my friend and desire to improve herself too. Guess where I'm spending my Christmas evening? I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with your friends up there. Stay warm, my dearest. You are loved. Bless