Naptime at my age (and no, I’m not telling), is welcomed and refreshing any hour of the day. When I feel the need for a nap coming on, I head to my favorite place and my favorite recliner. (I have a small bedroom where I can close the door against my furry friends who are heat-seeking “missiles” craving a warm lap.)
This particular day my backside had no sooner sunk into my comfy chair when out popped Bailey from underneath! His sudden appearance startled me. I didn’t realize that his favorite hideout was under my chair when he seeks some alone time. I got up to let him out since he hates a shut door standing between him and freedom. Obviously, my naptime ruined his. Poor baby.
This little run-in with my cat brought a memory to mind that I will share with you if you don’t object. It happened years ago soon after losing my firstborn to suicide. After my hubby returned to work (from his grief leave) I had the house to myself during the day. It became my hiding place of sorts. I was too sad to force myself out into the public unless it was Thursday. On Thursday I made sure I had plenty of errands to run to keep my mind focused elsewhere for the afternoon hours.
Thursdays were a painful reminder of the hours I paced and prayed for my son’s safety, but my prayers were not answered in the way I wanted. Instead, in the early afternoon, I got the awful call from the police telling me they found my son, dead, in his apartment. For weeks and weeks, I could never be home Thursday afternoon or I would be tempted to watch the clock and relive every diminutive detail from that awful day.
My home was my safe haven. If I didn’t have to go out, I stayed behind closed doors. Others might judge me as “hiding out” from life, but how could they possibly understand unless they had walked for a minute in my shoes? No one chooses to lose a precious child. And only those who likewise suffer get it.
If I needed an outlet, I had the computer to keep me abreast of the news as much as I cared to know. I had no social media connection back then, but I had email, and there were always plenty of messages to open.
One day while going through the emails, I came across something that had been forwarded from someone (who loved my son very much, mind you, and had attended the funeral just a short time before). The subject line of the email said something about being tired of the long winter. Innocent, right? I clicked to open it and instantly froze.
There’s no need for details except to say that the picture was of a snowman (sitting like a person) on a park bench with a caption that read something like, “If spring doesn’t hurry up, I will k— myself.” What!!? Then I took a closer look at the snowman. “He” had a —- tied around his neck, an implement commonly used for suicide. In fact, it was the very same method my firstborn used to end his life! One could think . . . just a thoughtless oversight. However, the action still baffles me. Even though the person was cognizant of the details of my son’s death, they still chose to forward the email to me.
Some folks might have reacted differently if they had looked at my computer screen that day, but my reaction was automatic: I jumped up from the chair and ran through the house screaming before collapsing on a sofa, crying my eyes out. This is where my hubby found me and tried to calm me down. To this day I never open emails from people I am not certain I can trust.
My home had always been my safe place; a place where I felt secure in my solitude of grief, but the medium of cyber communication broke down my wall of security and invaded my space. Going forward, I am even more vigilant and protective of my shattered heart. I imagine you are as well.
This incident and my explosive reaction may seem trivial, even silly to some, but readers who are grieving a loss to suicide know the strange phenomena of triggers. In fact, you might recall situations in your own experience that set you off, triggering a garden-variety of emotions and tears. It doesn’t take much in the beginning, and not surprisingly, triggers can happen anytime, anywhere, and even after years have passed.
Since my son’s death, I have discovered that I need comforting more than ever before in my life. I have also discovered that there is a higher power who can provide that comfort. He is the God of heaven. He is my soft place to fall. He is my rock (Psalm 18:31) and under His wings, I am sheltered (Psalm 91:4). He mourns with me. He loves me more than I can comprehend. He is my personal truth. And He is my hiding place.
God is good, a hiding place in tough times . . . Nahum 1:7
Verse shared from The Message (MSG)