It’s a quiet evening here at home. October is slowly rolling toward it’s end, and the nights are a little cooler, the mornings a little mistier. I am working hard at not becoming a bit melancholy as I am known to do around this time of year.
A couple years ago, I had the sad opportunity to attend an acquaintances memorial service. Kelly* was a single mom with a big heart and an even bigger smile who had struggled with drugs for years. She had previously been in our recovery group, doing well, but admitted that her ex, still in prison was soon to be released and she was concerned for her sobriety. She explained that every time they got together, the using started up and soon they were both wrecked. We prayed, worked together with her on strategies, but, in the end, it was still her choice, and once he was out she was drawn to him like a moth to a bug zapper. And it was her undoing. She left behind a precious child, friends and family that now have a permanent hole in their hearts and lives.
I was between jobs, and the memorial service was on a weekday, and God said “go”. So, I bundled into the car, stopping at the store for some sweets to take as an offering for the refreshment table. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the key, and as I closed the car door, I burst into tears. Ugly-cry, right-in-the-grocery-store-parking-lot-tears.
I knew right away it was not just for my recently departed friend, but for a dear long-lost friend, Rachel* who could no longer bear this world and left it back in our college days. We were all raising children as single parents, going to a support group and hanging out with each other, just to try and keep from going nuts, when one of us swallowed a bottle of pills and left. Her three little kids were left wondering what would happen now. The rest of us wondered why she would give up, what had driven her to the point of such despair? Truth was, there were no real answers. For me, there was only anger and fear. Fear that my rope could ever unravel to such a point. Because that’s really what anger is, it is very well-disguised fear. When our fear is so great we can’t speak it, but it needs expression.
Every October and November since, I would descend into anger and sadness over Rachel’s passing. Honestly, I can tell you now, I have never contemplated truly taking my life. But I have thought many times about running. Running away, far away, starting completely over, with no strings. But, especially when my kids were small, I would remind myself, that they deserved better than that. And they still do, as do the rest of the people in my life. And besides, wherever you go, there you are, right?
Anyway, back to the memorial. As I sat through the recounting of Kelly’s life, because when it’s death due to an overdose, it’s not a celebration of life, it’s more of a cautionary “don’t let this happen to you” event, God revealed to me the pockets of anger and fear I had been struggling with in relation to my friend’s passing so many years ago. I finally was able to let go of it. I felt a 2-ton weight slide off my shoulders. By the end of the service, I felt almost joyous, like I had been released from a prison. I hastened up to the front afterward to tell my pastor what had happened, feeling almost embarrassed that it had taken my attendance at this memorial service to bring about my healing and release, but, it is what it is.
I don’t think Kelly would have been too upset about it either, in fact, knowing her as I did for just a short time, she would have smiled her huge smile and hugged me. Thanks sweetie. I know you’re at peace now, I think we all are.
This was as hard to write as it may have been hard to read, but it’s my truth.
Much love to all of you out there.
*note: Rachel and Kelly are pseudonyms, as those in recovery and their families deserve a measure of anonymity, even in death.