Archives for category: family
Confession:
I threw myself into cooking today. It was partly because we have a guest coming to share Shabbat with us. But that wasn’t the whole reason.
Yesterday and today I’ve found myself really missing my dad a lot. I miss his voice, I miss knowing that I can call and talk to him, I miss the way he called me “D.” I just miss him, his presence in my life and here on this earth. And the missing is always compounded by the painful notion that the way he died, the way his life of 72 years ended, was so tragic, so violent and just so wrong on every level.
It’s not just that I want to call him so I can say “I love you” or hear him say it in return, it’s that I want a chance to dispel every notion he carried to the grave with him: 
That he was worthless
That we were be better off without him
That his depression & anxiety were something to be ashamed of
That he was weak
That there was no hope that things would/could get better
I’m going to services tonight. And in truth, I’m reluctant. Faith is still a struggle for me, even though I have forgiven God. The language of prayer still trips me up at times and when I am feeling vulnerable, it can open up the floodgates. And tonight, I feel vulnerable.
Yes, I spent the day in the kitchen today preparing a Sabbath meal. I did it for our guest and I did it for me. Because cooking is meditative for me. And I found myself feeling very weepy  throughout.
I know that sixteen months in I have longer stretches of days where I don’t cry, and where the joy is far more front and center than the pain. Still, the pain of his death at his own hands is ever present, like a dull quiet ache. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of how my dad died.
Yesterday and today, that quiet ache got a little stronger and louder. The missing so palpable and the inclination to call him was at times overwhelming. I don’t know what the triggers were, we’ve passed the 20th, it’s not a holiday or a special day of remembrance. It’s just me, a daughter missing her daddy. It’s just me trying to remember him in life and be able to smile, even through tears. It’s just me wishing that his end, if he had to go, could have been peaceful, surrounded by those who loved him most, free of pain & suffering. He deserved at least that. So did we.
I miss my dad, so much that it hurts.
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The home should be the treasure chest of living. Le Corbusier

Leaving my childhood home today for the very last time, I have so many mixed emotions. I am grateful for the love that lived there. I am grateful for the childhood that began in that place after our move from Brooklyn, when I was in the first grade. That house that saw family celebrations, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and more. That house that knew anger, sadness, loss and pain just as intimately. That house where I found friendship, first crushes, first romance and even first heartbreak. If those walls could speak, they would tell so much of my story.

And I am grateful for the reconciliation that it was witness to. After six years had passed, in the driveway of my childhood home, I shared a first emotional embrace with my father and my mother, and healing took hold. Yes, I am grateful for the joy and even the hardship that shaped me into who I am, so much of it in that place that I once called home.

But I am also grateful to let go of the place where my father ended his life, and the palpable pain & grief that brings each time I enter the space, where he drew his final breath. The house haunts me only with sorrow now, it is filled with what was and what should have been. I look for him in every corner, out on the porch basking in the sun, sitting in his recliner in the family room or his favorite spot in the living room. I can’t even bring myself to sit in his chairs. I hear his voice on the answering machine and he still sounds so very alive. He recites the phone number I’ve committed to memory and he says that “we” can’t get to the phone right now, but “we” will get back to you as soon as “we” can. But my mother is a widow now, and we will never hear his voice in life again.

So fare thee well house. I’ll hold the good you gave me close and in leaving you, I hope to leave behind some of the pain. Be good to the next family that calls you home. A new chapter begins for my mom and for us. Another door closes, and somewhere else a window opens…

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To live a life of meaning is to know that nothing is ever set in stone. Possibilities dwell on each new horizon and even the setting sun is touched by the promise of tomorrow.

And yet today, 14 months after your suicide we dedicate a stone that stands in stark contrast to that notion of hope and promise. This stone feels so very final, noted with a beginning and an end. The words speak of who you were to us in life; a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother and friend. But there is no space or place to honor who or what you might have become. The finality is undeniable and in truth, still unfathomable.

And then there are those fourteen words, meant to share what mattered most to you, and how you will be remembered. What did you value in your time on this earth?

To bask in the loving warmth of family and friends was his greatest blessing.

Stones…

They can be used to build bridges or be a source of destruction

They can trip us up, placing obstacles in our path, or be the foundation of a new beginning

They can be collected as remembrances of new places we visit and memories we make

They can be polished, smooth, turned into ornaments

They can be rough and jagged, worn down by the elements

They can weigh us down if we try to carry too many of them on our own, a truth we know all too well

And …

They can mark a final resting place

An eloquent monument for a loved one we’ve lost, whose death didn’t have to be.

 

Dad, today I lay on your footstone a piece of my home

Stones, shaped like hearts from the flatirons of Colorado

Lovingly gathered for me by friends that you will never get to meet

From the mountains so beautiful, that you will never get to see.

 

Mother Theresa said:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

We who loved you are the ripples

The continuing legacy to that stone your life cast

And it is in those ripples that we must find you and carry you forward

This stone we dedicate today will stand for eternity

It is heavy like grief

Yet strong like the human spirit

It will not wither

Neither is it left untouched by passing storms

It is not where we find you, but where we instead honor you

It is where we come to remember, to cry, to talk and to feel as if we are with you.

 

And as we strive to move forward in a world without you

One where so many others know the same pain that you felt

Suffering in silence and feeling alone

I offer you one last promise

It won’t be for nothing nor be without meaning.

No stone will be left unturned

No matter how deeply rooted they are in shame or stigma

If even one life can be saved from telling our story

Then the ripples of your legacy, your life

And even your loss

Will be without end.

July 5, 2016

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Today I am sharing some reflections on one of the final and most heartfelt conversations that I had with my father, just before his suicide.  Words that bring me some understanding, even if they can’t ease the pain.

“My father’s suicide was not a selfish act. It was not the act of a coward. It was the act of a man who was in agony and didn’t want to hurt anymore….”

To read more visit Our Side of Suicide

 

Lowell BM pic

Dear Facebook,

I know it is coming.  On April 20th, you will remind me of what I posted “One Year Ago Today.” But I need no reminder. I have been learning to live with and accept this truth every day since I wrote it.

These are the posts that announced my father’s death…

My Father’s Death (written 4/20/15)

Early this morning, my father lost his battle with mental illness. My heart is broken. May his memory be for an eternal & abiding blessing… and may he know how grateful I was for the gifts of reconciliation & healing–I got these last few years with my father, and that is a gift I will forever be grateful for. I will miss him more than words can say… I only wish I could tell him how much he meant to me, one last time. To hear his voice, to say I love you–and if only I had another chance to remind him-that it would get better, to hang on to hope even if only by his fingertips–but instead, I travel with my family to New York, to say goodbye to a beloved father, father-in-law, grandfather, friend, brother and husband–and to return his soul to God. I love you daddy!

He is Gone (4/20/15)

My beloved father Lowell Jay Herman. I want just one more moment–one more hug-one more I love you–I want to wake up from this horrific nightmare and know that you are still here–that the despair you were feeling, the depression–did not truly take you from us–but I will not get that. My heart and soul ache with a sadness I cannot even put into words–Depression robbed our family of so many years–so many joyous moments yet to be, so many more opportunities to say I love you–and I feel as if I am stuck in quicksand–barely able to breathe, to think, to process. My father, my friend–how can it be that you are gone? I will cherish and miss this smile for the rest of my days. I only wish your last moments on this earth were not filled with so much pain–I love you daddy–always! I hope your soul is finally at peace…

Facebook, the memory that you share is a traumatic imprint that is forever a part of me. And in truth, I still stand in disbelief at times waiting for this nightmare to end. Because there are days I think to myself, “This can’t be true.” But it is. 365 days have passed. The pain is still sharp. But some healing has come. I miss him every day. I wish with all of my heart that love had been enough to save him. So thank you for the reminder, but my tears beat you to it. And I won’t try to stop them, I will simply let them flow.

April 20, 2015 the day my life was forever altered, the day I became a Survivor of Suicide Loss. One Year Ago I lost the first man that I ever loved. My father, my friend, oh how I wish I could rewrite the end of this story. Oh how I wish you could have stayed.

 

My family and I were estranged for six years. The reasons are complex, as are most families. But thankfully, the family ties that bind, though frayed & tattered, were never broken. It was Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) when our healing began. It was Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement & Forgiveness) when we spoke for the first time. And it was Thanksgiving, when we were reunited for the first time.

I remember so well as my husband, the girls and I pulled into the driveway of my childhood home; my father came around to my side of the car. I stepped out of the car and we embraced. He cried, I cried, and we held one another so tightly. And, in that year, as I sat around the dinner table with my own beautiful family, my brother and his family, and my parents, I got to live out in full the truest meaning of Thanksgiving. Yes, we lost six years. We will never get those back. But our story did not end there. It was not the final footnote. And from our pain, our hurt, our anger and our journey through forgiveness, we grew stronger, better. We loved more fully, more honestly, more openly. We became strongest in the very places that had been broken.

Soon, it will be one year since my father’s suicide. It is a painful day for me and my family to contemplate. I feel as if I’ve lived a lifetime without him, and as though he left us only yesterday. Yes, I count my blessings daily and I have found laughter once again. Yes, I am present for my family and my friends, and I turn towards life each day. But the loss has forever altered me and I am still putting the pieces together. But I am so profoundly grateful that I got three and a half more years with my father. I am grateful for every memory that we made, every laugh that we shared, and for every time we said, “I love you.” And I am grateful that I found the courage to reach out in that first letter, that letter that opened the door to a future together, and allowed us to leave behind the hurt, the anger and the sadness that had touched our past.

Life can change on a dime. Mine did when I got the call that my father had taken his own life. I guess my message is, where you can, if you can, and however you can, find forgiveness. My father left this world knowing that I loved him. And I know that he loved me. That might not have happened. And I cannot even begin to imagine what that would have felt like.

Families will hurt us, disappoint us, frustrate us & wound us. Some of those things I know are truly unforgivable. But, if they are not, if they can be overcome, looked past or let go of, do it. I regret many things, and I regret deeply that I could not save my father from himself, from his pain, from the depression and anxiety that plagued him. But I do not have to live with the regret of words left unspoken, forgiveness left unoffered and love left unshared. And for that, for the 3 & 1/2 years I got with him, that my children got with him, and for the love that we shared, I am profoundly and wholly grateful. Forgiveness is a gift. Offer it to yourself. It may be one of the most precious and meaningful things you ever do.

me and aaron with folks

My brother Aaron, my mother, my father and me. The last time we would all be together.

This piece was also published on The Good Men Project

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My daughters with Grandma & Grandpa on a visit to Long Island.

I remember the first time that I heard my mother’s voice after I found out my father had taken his life. I was in the back of Whole Foods, where I had received the devastating news, sitting with my friend Pam. My husband was on his way to me. But I needed to speak to my mom. So, with my hands shaking and an endless flow of sobs and tears, I dialed the number to the house that my father and mother had shared for over forty years.

My mother answered, and as she recounted what had happened, we sat on the phone crying. And she said to me, “Deborah, I don’t want the girls to know how their grandpa died.” When I asked her why, she answered, “I don’t want them to think he didn’t love them enough to stay.”  We both knew that we could not keep this from them. And even more, that we could not possibly grieve a lie. That wasn’t truly what my mother wanted. Her words were not born of shame, but rather the fear that my children would come to see their beloved grandfather as selfish, or perhaps see themselves as “not enough” to keep him here.

I promised my mother, vowed to her in fact, that I would make sure my daughters knew how much their grandpa loved them. I would tell them the truth about how he died, but I would remind them of all that they meant to him in life. Somehow I would find the words to impart all of that.

My husband took me home. And soon after, our daughters began to arrive from school. They did not all come home at the same time. And while it would have been easier to say the words only once, and to have them all together, it was obvious to them, as they walked through the door, that something was terribly wrong. There would be no postponing the conversation.

It began with my middle daughter, who was beaming because, on that same day, she had gotten her braces taken off. A friend had picked her up from school so that she could keep the appointment. And it fell to us to rob her of that smile, as we told her that her grandpa had taken his life.

Then we told our oldest, and finally our youngest.

We began each conversation with the reminder that I promised my mother I would give. “You know how much Grandpa loved you, right? He loved you so much and he was so proud of you.” As the words came out, the expressions on each of my daughters’ faces quickly changed. They could see in our faces that something was wrong. We then tried to gently frame the harsh news that we were about to deliver, “You know how much Grandpa has been struggling these last months? You know he has been dealing with depression and anxiety.” And before we could go further, my daughters knew. The tears and cries spilled out as they asked if their grandpa had killed himself. And my husband & I had to answer them with the hardest truth they would ever have to take in. “Yes. Grandpa took his life early this morning. He’s dead.” And then through my sobs I said the same thing my brother had said to me that morning when he told me of our father’s suicide: “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

The cries and screams that escaped from my children’s mouths, cries that came from a deep & primal place, will never leave me. They are forever seared into my memory. And I can say with certainty, that those were the hardest and most painful words that I have ever spoken to my children. Everything about them felt wrong. And time hasn’t changed that.

My daughters know that their grandfather died by suicide. They do not know the details of his death. They don’t need to and they are not ready for the imagery that my brother, my mother and I struggle with. They also know that their grandfather loved them very much, and that he died of an illness. It’s taken time for them to reach that place of understanding, and it doesn’t mean they don’t still struggle at times. We talk about it openly. They know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve this loss. But just as we did from the moment we shared that painful truth, we face and process the loss honestly.

Before my father was buried, each of my daughters wrote him a letter. They told him how much they loved him. They told him how much they would miss him and they shared their own personal memories and feelings. And in each of their letters they told their grandpa that they were not angry at him. They offered their forgiveness.

Those letters were placed in my father’s casket. He was laid to rest with their words and their love for all eternity. They know the truth. Their Grandpa died of an illness. It was not a reflection of his love for them. He loved them fully, deeply and wholly. That is his enduring legacy. His suicide is the final footnote that they must live with, but it is not & never will be the whole story.

Grandpa and his granddaughters

Grandpa & The Greene Girls

 

This post has been republished on The Mighty

Dear Dad,

Tomorrow will mark eleven months since you left us. And soon, it will be a year.  How can that possibly be? Some days it feels as if I’ve lived a lifetime without you, and others it is as if it just happened yesterday.

Eleven months ago, if I knew then, what I know now, there is so much that I would say to you Dad. And there are things I would say and do differently.

I would ask you to stay. In fact, I would beg you.  I am not above saying that.

I would not offer you platitudes or promise it would all get better. I never did. But I would remind you as often as I could that in all of your brokenness, just as you were, you were loved. Never again would I say that perhaps you could “fake it until you feel it.” Because I know now that faking it took far too much strength and energy. I would tell you that loving you through the hard times was not a burden. That none of us would feel better off without you.

I would ask you to give the therapist & the medication time. And just as I did then, I would temper your expectation that one day you would simply wake up and feel all better. You were so desperate not to hurt anymore and you gave that tiny pill far too much power. And when it failed to act as quickly as you had hoped, you slipped further away from us. Only we didn’t know it.

I would ask you to be honest with us. You showed us pieces of your pain. But you did not show us all of it. Maybe you yourself didn’t recognize the depths of your suffering. Maybe you felt further weakened and embarrassed, ashamed of the notion that you might consider ending your own life. So you pushed those thoughts down into that dark hole that had opened up inside of you.  Oh how I wish you had said it Dad.  Remember how I told you that to make therapy work, you would have to be willing to peel back all of the layers? It would be hard, it could be painful, but it could bring you to a place of understanding yourself and your pain. And from that place of understanding, healing would be possible. But instead you compartmentalized, you rationalized and you masked the truth. Why didn’t you tell someone, anyone that death was beckoning to you, promising you an end to the suffering? Why did you only drop hints that we were unprepared to recognize then? If you had just spoken the words, you might still be here with us now.

Dad, I would tell you that we needed you. And I would remind you of all the goodness, the joy, the celebrations that were yet to come. I’d ask you to look into the faces of your grandchildren and see all of the beautiful possibilities that lie ahead. Imagine their graduations, bat mitzvahs, and weddings. Imagine sitting with mom, dancing in joy and relishing the growing beauty of the family that you created together. Then I would ask you to see the void that would be present if you were not there. I would ask you to look at the tears, the palpable sense of missing that we would all feel with your absence.

family bat mitzvah

The family that love built

If I had a clue that you were considering suicide, I would have been on the first flight and as a family; we would have gotten you even more help. We would have come up with a plan that met you in crisis and carried you through. Why didn’t you give us that chance Dad?

If I had a chance to say anything to you Dad, I would tell you over and over again that I loved you, that I needed you in my life, that you leaving would be devastating.

I don’t know if any of it would have made a difference Dad. But I am left with so many words unspoken. There was no final goodbye. I didn’t get to hold your hand, embrace you and kiss you one last time.  I would tell you that not getting to do that would forever hurt and haunt me. It feels like you simply disappeared.

Dad, I know that you were suffering. But if you were here now, I would acknowledge it with an even greater understanding. Hindsight offers me an insight that I didn’t fully have a year ago. Your pain was so very real. You hurt all over. I would tell you that it’s okay to let all of that pain show. I would ask you to shed the layers of stigma, the shame, the fear that you would be perceived as weak, frail & somehow less of a man. Those layers only weighed you down, causing you to sink even further. And when you asked if you would ever return to your old self, I would say instead that the goal of each day should be to meet the pain, to share it, to work through it and to strive instead toward healing bit by bit. Because returning to your old self, that may have been far too lofty a goal. Perhaps you didn’t have the strength to reach toward a finish line that was so far off. But small markers, milestones that were within reach, maybe that would have been possible.

I wish I could go back. I wish you were here. I wish I could say all of these things to you Dad. I wish I knew then, what I know now. Eleven months ago you took your life. And all that I want to share with you now; I must sit at your graveside to say. But I say it anyway. I love you. I miss you. I wish you could have stayed. We are not better off without you.  We wanted you here.

dad's headstone

My father’s footstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflection was also featured on The Mighty. To read more posts like this, click on The Mighty’s Stories about Suicide

Sometimes I don’t go the extra mile to reflect out loud on the blog–the words & thoughts instead spill out on Facebook. Here are some reflections from 2015…. I don’t really expect you to read them all. I suppose I simply wanted to keep them somewhere safe… evidence of my journey for future reference.

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12/30/15
In this New Year, heal the rifts that you can… the fractured relationships that can be repaired in safety, with love and forgiveness. Be brave and take the first step. It’s scary and hard, it’ll leave you feeling vulnerable. But I was blessed to share almost 3 and 1/2 more years with my father before he died. And he left this world ( I pray) knowing that I loved him and I know he loved me. And in the midst of all of this pain, I cling to that. Forgiveness isn’t always possible. It isn’t always safe or healthy. But where it is, embrace it. Because living with regret, words unspoken, faults & fights unforgiven, relationships unhealed and time not spent loving those who matter to us… Well, that would be the greatest loss of all.

12/29/15
2015–the last year I had a father…. I know, I know–some will say I still have a father, that he is with me always–but I’ll never again say “Happy New Year” to him or hear him say “I love you.” There will never be another hug, another kiss, another laugh–no new memories to be made, shared & treasured. So yeah, 2015–the last year I had a Dad. And it breaks my heart….

12/27/15
Watched “The Way We Were” with Fred and our girls tonight. One of my favorite movies of all time. Couldn’t help but to be struck by the line in the song “Memories”… “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget”… If only it were that easy… One day it’ll be “the laughter we will remember” instead of the pain… One day…

12/27/15
In this year to come… My most fervent prayer is that I can help inspire greater and more open dialog about mental illness & suicide. May 2016 be the year we stop whispering about it, relegating to the shadows those living with mental health struggles, those who’ve attempted suicide, those who are contemplating suicide and those of us living with suicide loss. It’s time my friends. May 2016 allow me to be a part of that effort and to make meaning of my father’s death

12/26/15
Some days the words roll off of my tongue and utter disbelief still follows, eight months later. My father killed himself. My father died by suicide. My father took his own life. I have sudden flashes of horrible imagery, I have flashbacks to the moment my life changed forever… and admittedly, for a brief moment I want to convince myself it’s just a bad dream. None of it reconciles with the smiling pictures I look through… 2015 unleashed a tsunami of pain, grief, trauma and loss. I pray 2016 will bring more joy, healing and light… day by precious day. And one day, I hope I’ll think of him and smile, maybe even laugh…even if it’s through tears.

12/20/15
Dear Dad,
Eight months ago today, despair, depression and anxiety took you from us. I still don’t know where to file how you died, the manner, the reason, the self-infliction of it all. I’m trying to learn simply to live with it.
But the missing… After eight months it feels more palpable, not less… more real, more final… And it simply breaks my heart and makes me so very sad. You were loved Dad… I pray you knew that even in the midst of such pain. And for the record, you were wrong… We are not better off without you here…
Eight months later… I hurt, I miss and I love you. I carry you with me. Always…

12/14/15
Today I found myself thinking about a certain moment with my Dad. It was a couple of weeks after Noa was born. We had already learned about her congenital heart defects, and we’d been trying to get her bigger, stronger, more physically ready for the major open heart surgery that would need to be performed. My parents were visiting our house in Connecticut. The phone rang. It was Noa’s cardiologist. We knew that despite our best efforts, Noa was losing weight and he called to tell us that the most recent tests revealed that Noa was in full blown congestive heart failure. The surgery needed to be scheduled as soon as possible. I remember so vividly, hanging up the phone with him and staring out of the picture window in our kitchen, tears just rolling down my cheeks. I was so scared, so worried, and so very heartbroken. My dad came into the kitchen and silently he stood next to me, put his arm around me and stared out of that window with me. Not a word was spoken, but so much was said. It was his presence that gave me comfort in that moment. Maybe I’ve been thinking about that particular moment because we are around the time the phone call would’ve come. The anniversary of the surgery, just nine days from now. And maybe because, in my sadness, it is his presence, his just being here, that I miss the most. And perhaps it’s the intermingling of memories of a precious life we almost lost and the stark reality of the one we did–whatever it is–I close my eyes and remember. And I feel him, if only for a moment–and I miss him….

12/13/15
Another thing I’ve learned, grieving a suicide loss… TV is ripe with casual references and jokes about “killing oneself” or blasé remarks about shooting or hanging oneself etc. it’s on dramas, comedies and reality shows alike… Here’s the thing… It’s not funny at all and it serves not only as a trigger, but an indication of the lack of seriousness we as a nation put towards suicide loss and prevention. Perhaps it was always there, perhaps I’m simply keenly aware of it now, on television, in books or in casual conversations. Whatever it is… we all need to learn to choose our words far more wisely when it comes to this topic. Because it is no laughing or casual matter…

12/13/15
Lessons I’ve learned on being a friend to someone in grief…you need to have a long, long attention span & keep showing up well beyond the initial loss. And if the loss is a traumatic one…buckle up and accompany your friend on the long, arduous journey ahead. Your ongoing presence may be the greatest gift you ever give them…..

12/5/15
I think it’s fair to say that a tsunami of grief snuck up on me and swallowed me whole today… Didn’t see it coming. Just trying to get ready for the holidays.. but I suppose that was all the opening that grief needed. A mug thrown across the kitchen and shattered everywhere, primal screams for my dad and a tearing open of the fragile scab that calmer waters, only days before, had allowed to begin forming, or so I thought. I miss my Dad. I miss the me that I was before his suicide. I miss the mom that I was, the wife that I was, the whole unwounded and strong version of myself. I want to outrun and outwit grief, but I keep ending up on the losing side of that game… My puffy eyes, hoarse voice and battered heart are what’s left today. I try to make the holidays celebratory, to fill them with life and meaning for my family. And then the pain reminds me..that I cannot simply will it away, in the midst of this year of firsts without my father. I want to remember him without so much sadness. I’m tired. It’s been a long hard journey. I want a “Get out of grief” card that lets me skip around the hard stuff and go straight back into the land of the living. He’s not coming back. There will never be another holiday together. I cannot rewrite his tragic ending. I’m learning to live with it. I have to. But some days the painful lessons of learning and of loss, can truly bring me to my knees…

12/1/15
It may seem like a small and minuscule accomplishment to some, but seven and a half months after my father’s suicide, I finally maintained the focus and attention span to read, remember, follow and finish a book. Sure it was a light read, a bit of fluff and predictable…but that’s what I needed. Sometimes it’s the little things…..

 

11/21/15
Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. A day I once never knew existed. A day I never thought would include me, my mother, my brother and our families. But it does… According to the CDC it is estimated there is a median of between 6 and 32 survivors directly impacted from a suicide death. Get to know us. Be open to our stories. Don’t claim to know how we feel if you are not a survivor, just give us the room to feel and express it all. Love us, be patient with us, understand that we are forever altered. Be present long after the initial loss, we will need that. I am grateful to my loving village. I’ve never once walked this journey alone. I am a survivor. I am surviving and one day I will again do more than that. Until then, one day, one breath, one minute at a time I face the grief and the trauma. The hardest journey I’ve ever been on…

11/20/15
Dear Dad,
It’s been seven months since you died. And I just want you to know how much I miss you and how much I love you. If love were enough to save you, you’d still be here. But it wasn’t… Still, I hope you knew it. I hope you felt it. Even in those dark final moments of despair.
And I hope and pray every day that you are at peace. That your soul is healed. And that you are held each day in God’s loving embrace.

11/18/15
My therapist said that sometimes it is okay to acknowledge my grief and feelings of trauma, and then to tell them that I’m too weary, too tired or just not up for engaging them at that moment. Instead, at times I must give myself permission to tend to and be kind to myself. To do something that is relaxing, calming or enjoyable just for me. That is how I can sustain myself through this complex, painful and multi-layered grief work. I’ve resisted this before, feeling I must always be ready to engage the grief and feelings of trauma, so I can move through and past them. But almost seven months in, I’m tired, I’m weary and I’m emotionally exhausted. If I’m to keep going through this muck and mud, if I’m to keep picking up the pieces, I must refuel myself along the way. It isn’t ignoring the grief, it isn’t getting stuck, it isn’t lazy… It is tending to my bruised and battered spirit. Allowing it to rest awhile. Allowing nothingness, calmness and quiet to prevail for just a moment in time … And so today, I colored and I read. An easy to follow book, with no trauma, violence or the triggers that are so abundant in the shows I once found easy to watch. I lost myself for a little while. I looked away from grief. I looked away from suicide, from loss, from my father and I gave myself peace and quiet. Being kind to myself isn’t always easy for me. But I’m learning and I’m trying.

11/15/15
Yes, there were the more predictable moments that made me cry today at CU’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. The Sabbath Prayer & Sunrise, Sunset… But the moment that snuck up on me and quietly took my breath away & filled my eyes with tears was when Tevye is saying goodbye to Hodel at the train station. She embraces her father with so much emotion and says, “God only knows when we will see each other again Papa.” And Tevye tearfully replies, “Then we shall leave it in his hands.” I did not get to say goodbye, there was no final embrace. I sometimes worry and wonder if I told my father in that final phone call, that I loved him. I think I did. I hope I did… Yes, the story had moments that made me smile and remember, and moments that have always made me cry… But that moment today seemed somehow more painfully poignant… Because that one touched upon what I miss most..knowing that I’ll see my father again

11/6/15
Since my father’s suicide, I often liken myself to Humpty Dumpty after the fall. I am still in the process of picking up the pieces, fragments of my former self. My daughter reminded me that Humpty Dumpty is really a tragedy, as she is studying in her Lit class. He was never able to be repaired. Not with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. Me? My army is stronger than the King’s. As I journey through this traumatic loss, as I piece together a new me, I am supported, cared for, loved and nurtured by an incredible family, a community of great compassion, and a village of women that I am blessed, truly blessed, to call my friends. Humpty Dumpty was a tragedy. I know tragedy. I am surviving one, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. But I know, even on my darkest day, that I will never be left in my brokenness. My wounds will never be left untended. If Humpty Dumpty had been as lucky as me in that regard, perhaps his story would have ended differently. So once again, I give thanks for the love, the unconditional and unwavering love that surrounds me. I give thanks for the daily texts and messages that light up my phone from the friends who just want to see how I am doing, to let me know that I am being thought of, that they are present and ready anytime that I need them. To discover friends like that, in the midst of darkness, in a new place, is a blessing. And today and every day, my breath, my strength, my hope… comes from my daughters and my husband. They sustain me, they hold me, they make me smile and they believe in my capacity to heal, even when I don’t. I still feel like Humpty Dumpty after the fall. But one day I won’t. I will gather the broken pieces and create a new mosaic.

11/5/15
Sometimes I wish those who love, know, care for or simply wish to be present for survivors of suicide loss, could be flies on the wall of a support group meeting. Because the shared stories of the things people say and do, in an attempt to convey compassion and caring in the aftermath of a suicide loss, so often miss the mark and hurt more than they heal. Suicide loss is loss plus trauma. It is a uniquely painful loss as our loved ones died at their own hands. I can only hope that as I’ve shared my journey through the aftermath of my father’s suicide, I’ve helped to sensitize people to what that loss looks and feels like and how to be with someone through every step of the complex and traumatic grief we, the survivors, face each and every day. Because in the course of a single moment, each of us in that room last night, had our worlds, hearts and souls shattered. Each acknowledged that we would never be the same. Each acknowledged that our kind of loss scares people and makes them uncomfortable. So many turn away… Making those who stay in it with us for the long haul, who don’t try to fix it with platitudes and encouragement to chin up and move on after some fixed amount of time, who stand in the silence, listen, hold us and tell us we are not alone, who love us in all of our brokenness, those people are a true blessing, gift and source of light in the darkness. Perhaps more than we can ever convey. And I wish every rabbi there today at the URJ biennial had a chance to be trained in mental health first aid and traumatic loss care… My own husband is getting real life training in this every day. And when we need our faith most, our faith leaders should know how to care for us…because every person in that room last night faced or is still facing, a crisis of faith. Who will help us through that?

11/4/15
Another painful first done. Today, another one comes. The first time Fred Greene is going away since my father’s suicide. “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leaving is hard.” The wise and insightful words of a dear friend. Deep breaths Deborah… It’ll be okay.

10/30/15
Sometimes the hardest part of traumatic grief is finding the words to name what you feel. Fred Greene will be going to Biennial next week, the day after my dad’s birthday. And I am struggling with lots of anxiety about it. Vivid disturbing dreams every night. In each I suddenly lose someone I love or am lost to them. My wise friend Barbara Gould helped me to name what I’ve been feeling today. She said, “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leavings are hard. ” I’ve been thinking about that all day. I felt overwhelmed with sadness and a sense of loss when my mom went home from her visit as well. I think it’s so very true. “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leavings are hard. ” Sometimes at least knowing and identifying the feelings allows me to feel that I’m not simply falling apart or coming undone. It helps me understand what is at the core of my struggle. What I do with that? Well, that is what therapy is for…

10/29/15
Confession. Sometimes I add to the burden of my own grief by worrying that people will tire of me, my sadness, my struggles and my stories. Another confession… Sometimes I find myself seeking forgiveness, asking for patience, asking people not to give up on me. One more confession, I wish I could just give myself the permission, trust in the relationships and live out my grief in the ways that most honor myself, my loss, and the life that I am trying to piece together in the aftermath of my father’s suicide. I wonder why doing that is so hard? I hope I can one day convince myself that my burden is heavy enough without the self imposed weight that I so readily add to it.

10/28/15
A little PSA from a suicide loss survivor… Please don’t use the term “political suicide” because no matter what happens in a campaign, if a candidate can wake up the next morning, draw in a breath, hug their loved ones, get dressed and start again… It’s not a suicide. Suicide ends a life. Aspirations and goals?! No. Those can be reborn and redefined. It’s that simple.

10/25/15
It’s been six months since I felt pure, unadulterated joy. But this weekend I felt and experienced it in full. I was reminded that it is still in me. I was reminded that a piece of my former self, is still there. I was reminded that healing is happening. I was reminded that to smile, laugh and be fully present in the moment feels more precious and meaningful because of where I’ve been and what I’ve been through. And I am grateful beyond words for that gift. It is truly the icing on the cake of a very sweet and celebratory weekend.

10/23/15
Sometimes the clouds of grief part for a while and allow a ray of sunshine to come in. And so it is today, the rains have stopped & the sun is shining. And I choose to believe that my father is looking down very proudly on his son-in-law as the installation Shabbat weekend gets ready to begin. He was so overjoyed that Fred got this position and that our family was moving to a place filled with such beauty and splendor. So even in the midst of my struggles, I will believe that he is with us in spirit, a proud father & father-in-law.

10/21/15
Okay Grief, you weren’t quite ready to step aside today. My heart remained heavy, the tears readily fell, the ache in my soul was palpable all day long. I didn’t smile much, I didn’t say much, maybe I didn’t even accomplish much. I got up, I exercised, I took a shower, I shopped for nutritious foods for my family, I snuggled with my doggies, talked & cried with my mommy and listened to my daughters tell me about their days. Dinner was at a restaurant, but it was a chance to grab some time with my husband. I wrote and now, I head to the couch to lose myself in the land of television shows. Maybe yesterday took me 15 steps back, maybe today I was stuck in place, maybe tomorrow I’ll inch forward again. I gave today all I had. I tried to simply be with you Grief, to feel you, acknowledge you and coexist peacefully. Goodnight Grief. Tomorrow, well, tomorrow I try again. I’m hopeful there will be some baby steps in me come the morning…

10/20/15
Dear Grief,
On this six month anniversary of my father’s death, I think it’s fair to say you kicked my ass. The gentle scab that had barely begun to form was torn away, the wound exposed and vulnerable, the pain, sadness and anguish seemed like a tsunami. And the anger, oh the horrible anger… But at day’s end, there is mostly the missing, the constant disbelief and the lonely feeling that comes with carrying this kind of loss. Suicide loss. Grief, today you win. The white flag is up, and I fully surrendered to it. But just so you know, battered & bruised, and with the wound fully open once again–I will get up, put one foot in front of the other and journey forward through your mucky, muddy & sucky path. I am strong… when I cry, when I laugh, when I hurt, when I heal, when I fall and when I get up… I am strong. It might not feel that way today. But tomorrow is another day…
Sincerely,
Me

10/26/15
A daughter with autism, a daughter with life threatening congenital heart defects, family estrangement… It’s not been a world or life without profound challenges. But grieving, surviving and learning to live with my father’s suicide is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… So perhaps it’s time I give myself some credit for the strength I’ve shown every day that I get up, get dressed and put one foot in front of the other. And perhaps it’s time to be kinder to myself on this long, hard and profoundly painful journey.

10/4/15
My fingers lay on the keyboard, not sure in which direction to go. My eyes stare at the screen, searching for what to say. I have no poetic words, no eloquence to share. The strength it took to get through yesterday’s walk, has taken leave. And in it’s place, a profound and primal sadness has set in. I want my Daddy. I miss him so much.

10/5/15
I’m writing through tears. Such an emotional day. Our first Out of the Darkness walk, in loving memory of a precious father and grandfather lost to suicide. His picture placed on the Memory Tree, amidst leaf after leaf of beautiful smiling faces, all of whom took their own lives. Smiles stolen by pain, suffering and anguish. We could not have gotten through today, were it not for the friends who walked alongside of us. Thank you to our team, our friends… Lauren Edelstein Park Laurie Weiss Bernstein Barbara Gould Daniel Packman Rachel Pred Gehr Joy Pulitzer and Shari Blake Schnee I’ve been crying for a good half hour now, I cried much of the morning, and I held my girls through their tears. But we did it. Step by heartbroken step. We walked surrounded by love. Thank you.

10/2/15

Dear Dad,
We did it. Yael Greene Leora Greene and I met our goals for the Out of the Darkness Walk. Our team total, $7,718 will go towards programs that support suicide prevention awareness, advocacy and research. Tomorrow, on the Jewish Sabbath, we pray with our feet, hand in hand with friends & members of our new community. Before the walk begins, your granddaughters and I have been invited to go up on the stage and release butterflies, along with some of our fellow survivors. I’ll think of you in this picture, an image of better & brighter days, and though I’m certain the tears will be flowing, with each butterfly I will be sending you my love. And on their wings, I hope that my love will reach you. I am devoted Dad. I have decided it is my mission now, to fight for a world without suicide. I want to take all that I have learned, and all I have yet to learn, to make meaning of your death. I want to spare another family the pain ours now carries. Tomorrow we walk Dad. We walk for you. We miss you so very much. We hope that we have made you proud. And we are beyond grateful to each and every person who has given along the way. Suicide can be prevented. I only wish, we could have prevented yours.

9/25/15
If ever you want to know why I write, why I share my journey so openly & honestly, why I will not stop writing about suicide loss and mental health-here is a response someone offered on my blog yesterday.
“I want you to know that you are helping me heal my grieving soul. My mother took her own life (also very violent). Its been over 10 years and I still think of her everyday and I still weep often. Your writings mirror my brokenness, but at the same time, I think it is helping me heal. Will it get better for you? I can only hope it will be less acute as time moves on. Thank you also for helping to bring mental illness out from the silence.”

9/22/15
It is Yom Kippur. A time to confess our sins….
40,000 Americans die by suicide each year.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds.
An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors
Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death for adults ages 18-65.
There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes.
Colorado has the 7th highest suicide rate in the country.
Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.
For the sin of complacency….
We dare not ask God for forgiveness….
Instead, we look within, we look around, we open our eyes and in this New Year, we dedicate ourselves to helping those struggling & lost in the darkness. When they believe they have no place in the Book of Life, we stand with them, we get them help, we offer our unconditional love & presence and we help them hold the pen, to inscribe themselves in that book. Because their story does not have to and should not end….. And asking for God’s forgiveness, as his children die, simply is not enough.

9/20/15
Some days I wish I could capture in a picture, in a word, in a story; what it looks like, feels like, hurts like to lose someone you love to suicide. Some days I wish the wounds were visible… Five months ago today my father took his own life. His pain wasn’t terminal, but he believed it was. His suffering wasn’t inevitable, but he believed it was. His storm was not without end, but he believed it was. His life was not without worth, but he believed it was. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Some days I wish I could capture the sadness in a poster, the guilt in a hashtag, the regret in a song. What would my billboard look like if I could make you see? Would I convince you that no one is immune? Would I convince you to start the conversations in your homes, your schools, your houses of worship. Would my rallying call be enough to shake you, to wake you, to implore you, to beg you to take away the shame..to demand better access to care, to not give up on someone who is suffering? To ask the hard questions, to not pretend you have the simple answers… If I could show you, would my struggle make more sense? A self-murderous act took my father from me. I can’t show you what that feels like. He died at his own hand. The wounds are only visible in my tears. The heaviness a palpable background to each and every day! I can’t show you… I can only tell you. I hope my words impart my truth. I hope my words enlighten, teach, touch and inspire. I hope you can receive them, honor them and hear them. I hope the words I speak, type, pray and share make a difference… Because I never thought it would happen to us. Never! But it did. And the wounds that can’t be seen, do not hurt any less.

9/14/15
Cried my way through services. Today will bring the same. The liturgy of these holy days so very hard. What do I do with my father’s suicide. He did not feel strong enough, worthy enough, brave enough, to inscribe himself in the Book of Life. Who shall live and who shall die? The words only wound me further… I am grateful though, profoundly grateful, for the friends who do not leave me alone in my pain and my tears… These holy days, these painful firsts, the imagery of his death alongside the imagery of the text, cause my knees to buckle and my soul to hurt… There are no words to encompass what I feel… The tears say what I can’t.

9/13/15
Dear Dad,
There is now a stone in the ground that bears your name; your birth and your death. Four years ago on Rosh Hashanah Day, after a six year estrangement, you and mom received my letter. You told mom it was going to be “a blessed day.” The first steps in healing our broken family. How grateful I am that we reconciled that we had almost four years together to make new memories, share in simchas, and be present for one another in life. And how it breaks my heart and wounds my soul that you’re gone. Suicide. How can it be? I ask myself daily. I cried myself to sleep last night dad; thinking of our first embrace upon seeing each other after the letters, the phone calls, the reconciliation. We both wept as we held each other. I’d give anything to hug you again. I’d give anything to have you here with us, welcoming in a new year, watching you journey towards your own healing, renewing your sense of faith and hope. I don’t know how to pray to God on this holiday. You should’ve been inscribed in the book of life. It wasn’t “your time.” But you’re gone, a stone in the ground now bears your name. And we who loved you must continue to journey through the wilderness of this complicated and painful grief. We must continue to choose life through our pain. I cried myself to sleep last night, remembering that embrace, and my tears may be my greatest prayer on these High Holy days. The liturgy is hard to contemplate or to find comfort in. But I believe God will hear the silent prayers of my heart, my soul and my tears. I hope you will to. I cried myself to sleep. I want you here. It would’ve gotten better. I miss your voice. I miss you. I will love you always….

9/3/15
After a night of vivid nightmares and a day of crying… This morning, as we sat at the breakfast table, there was this sliver of a rainbow in the sky..amidst the morning clouds. And then I got in the car, turned it on and the words that came across the radio were, “ooh ooh child, things are gonna get easier…ooh ooh child things will get brighter.” Thank you Daddy. I think today these were your gifts to me. At least that’s what they felt like…

8/29/15
Dear Dad,
What breaks my heart most
What wakes me at night
What brings tears to my eyes
Are your final moments on earth
Your final act
The ending of your own life
It fills my mind with violent images
I see your tears
I know you suffered
Though I pray it ended quickly
I wish I knew the what the last straw was
The final burden you could no longer bear
The nail that drove you to the coffin
What happened?
What happened?
No answers come with the images
which only sharpens the pain
I miss you dad
Your death haunts me
I journey forward through the valley
I wade through the grief
And still I ask each and every day
Why did you go?
And why can’t I find the you I loved in my dreams
Why are the only images the you that I lost

8/28/15
Praying for the peaceful sleep that has eluded me. God, let not violent images of my father’s final moments enter my dreams. Grant me rest on this Sabbath eve. As we savor the sweetness of Shabbat, I am grateful for every smile my daughters came home with at the end of another school day. So much change, met with so much courage… And I am grateful for the man who stands steadfast by my side. The man who daily helps me pick up the pieces of my fractured soul. The man who carries every extra burden, so that my knees won’t buckle on this journey of grief. My love, my best friend, my heart… Fred Greene. May tonight be a sleep where my blessings quiet and quell my pain and fill my dreams with peace and quiet. This is my Sabbath prayer as I watch this beautiful sunset in this beautiful place… Amen.

8/20/15
4 months ago today. I stood in Whole Foods on a Monday morning. My cell rang. It was my brother. He was crying “Daddy’s dead. He killed himself.” I made him repeat it. It couldn’t be. He kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” How horrible it must have been to make that call. I asked, “When? How?” I fell to the floor…primal screams, crying… strangers gathered. One prayed for me, others called my husband, I remember these kind strangers discussing how they would get me home. I shouldn’t, I couldn’t drive… still others went in search of a friend who I said might be working at Whole Foods. She came and got me, she took me to the back and waited with me until Fred could come….four months ago today, a normal Monday morning became a nightmare. And, of the many, many challenges our family has faced, surviving my father’s suicide and working through the horrible, painful and complex layers of grief…has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do….

8/14/15
Dear Dad,
Everyone has left. The house is quiet. I am alone. It is Shabbat. And the permanance of your absence, your loss, is setting in. God I miss you. I miss your voice. So tonight, on this Sabbath eve-alone, I am going to watch some videos of you. Videos of happier days, family memories. I wanted to be alone with you. So I can weep out loud. I’m afraid to do it. I don’t know if I’m ready. But I need to see you in life… not simply think of you in death. I don’t know if I”m ready daddy–will the remembering make it hurt more? Will it ease some of the pain, even if only for a little? I haven’t even begun and the tears are flowing. I want so much for you to come back….but you can’t. So tonight, for the first time since your suicide, I’m going to visit with you. And I’m going to pray for some smiles & laughter, through my tears. Remembering is hard, not remembering feels harder…

8/6/15
Dad,
Today I am knee deep in a mad, angry, pissed off state of grief. No eloquent reflections to write–it would just be filled with expletives and written in all caps– like screaming, ranting & yelling at the top of my lungs–but on paper, which just won’t offer the same release as doing it for real. But doing it for real might just scare the shit out of my neighbors–so I don’t really know what the hell to do with it–it’s just simmering and I’m trying not to let it boil over–so Dad-that’s where you, me & the endless reverberations of your suicide, stand today! Oh, by the way, nightmarish dreams for me-that’s one thing. For my children, your grandchildren-well, that’s a whole other f*cking story. I mean–are you kidding me? I have nothing more to say today! At least nothing rational anyway. But then again, I’m writing you letters on Facebook because I can’t say any of this to you. Because you left. You f*cking left–so how rational am I to begin with?! So, yeah-mad! That’s all I’ve got today–because you left a mess behind here Dad. And you don’t have to do anything to help clean it up… and some days, that is so damn wrong & unfair!
Your daughter,
Deborah

me and dad 2

Forgiveness is the final form of love.
― Reinhold Niebuhr

Dear Dad,

Soon it’ll be eight months since we lost you. Eight months since I heard your voice. Eight months since I heard you say, “I love you.”

I miss you Dad.

Grieving your loss, your suicide, has been hard. It’s a complicated journey, not at all linear like those stages of grief would have you believe. Leora gave a great analogy of the grieving process. It’s like the game Chutes and Ladders. Every day, you get up out of bed, you roll the dice and you move along the game board. Square by square, step by step you move ever so slowly ahead. Sometimes you land on a ladder and you get to advance even faster, headed towards the finish line. But just as easily, you can land on a chute, and find yourself sliding backward, and starting all over again. And so it is with grief. One step forward, two steps back. The times when the ladder allows you to move days, even weeks, through the loss with pain that is less palpable and ever present. Those are the days that remind you that joy, happiness, even a sense of peace, are possible. They tell you healing is happening. And then there are the days when triggers abound; holidays, remembrances, a television show, a book, something that opens the gate and allows the sadness, the pain, the loss, the missing… to find it’s way back onto center stage. Yes, I do believe that Leora got it right. Chutes and Ladders is the perfect analogy to the grieving process.

Dad, I’ve been angry at you for a while. It didn’t happen right away. Those early days, weeks and months were simply filled with shock, sadness, guilt and a tragic sense of disbelief. But somewhere along the way, I got angry. Suicide, if I’m being honest, feels like a choice sometimes. No, I wouldn’t dare allow someone who is not a survivor of suicide loss to say such a thing. But, as the survivors, the ones left behind, it feels like abandonment. We can say it, because we are living it. I’m the daughter, and you’re the dad. And dads aren’t supposed to just leave their children.

I’ve railed at you, yelled and screamed at the top of my lungs, until my voice was gone. I’ve pounded on and hit things until my knuckles were bloody and my fingers were swollen. I’ve thrown and shattered things. None of these are constructive acts, but sometimes anger simply wants, needs, to get out. And always, when I’m done, there is some relief, there is exhaustion and there is sadness.

But I don’t want to be angry at you anymore Dad. You must have been in such unimaginable pain to do what you did. Mom said something that truly resonated with me. When she stands at your grave, even if she is angry, she realizes that of all of us, no matter how hard our journey, it was you who got the worst end of this deal. Because we will find healing, we will laugh again, celebrate again and make new memories. But you, you will never again get to be a part of that. That is the ultimate consequence and cost of suicide isn’t it?

So Daddy, I forgive you. You would never have done this if you had the slightest sense of clarity in that moment. And I know you would never have wanted to cause us so much pain. I close my eyes and I hear you tell me you are sorry. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me; wishful thinking. Or maybe, in the still and quiet moments, you are with me. I hope that you are.

I miss you Dad. It’s Chanukah. Tonight, we will light the sixth light on the Hannukiyah. Remember our first Chanukah, after we reconciled? I do. We lit the candles together via Skype. You had used flashlights and tape to turn yourself into a human menorah. And on another night, you created an alter ego, dressed in full rap attire, you became Jew-Z-Big.

You had that silly and playful side in you. You had joy within you, and joyful moments that made up your life’s story. But you had your fair share of demons too. You were not a resilient man, and change was never easy for you. Optimism didn’t come readily to you, nor did faith in the unknown. You were a pragmatist, and a worrier. And when depression and anxiety came this time around, I do believe they played on these parts of you, and they grew far too powerful for you to bear. Through the cracks in your armor, they got inside and poisoned your sense of self, until all you were left with was a vision of being a burden, of being worthless, of somehow failing us. The pain that took hold in that dark room, on that dark night must’ve simply been unbearable. And all that you wanted, was for the pain and suffering to end. You didn’t choose to leave us. You could no longer see us, our love for you was obscured, clouded by suffering. And that will always break my heart.

So when I light the candles tonight Daddy, through my tears, I will devote tonight’s candle to you.
For the light of forgiveness that I offer to you
And for the light of forgiveness we found when we reconciled four years ago
For the light of memories that mark happier days
For the light I hope to shine on that which took you from us; mental illness & suicide
For the light that will guide me through the Chutes and Ladders of grief
For the light, the Divine Spark that you carried within, even though you couldn’t always feel it and struggled to trust in it
For the ember of you, that I carry within me and pass on to my children
For the light of love that we were blessed to know, in all of it’s complicated, messy and awesome glory
And in the warm glow of the candles, and in the stars up above, I will look for you… always. And the light of my love, I pray, will reach you.

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
― Og Mandino

dad and yael