Dear Beloved Dylan;
I love you still, perhaps more fiercely than ever. Though I miss you every day, I want you to know that we are OK sweetheart, really OK. The jagged, vicious pain we lived with for such a long time after you chose to leave us has softened. Life is truly different now, in ways that are surprisingly good. I say that because at “the beginning” we never expected life to be good again.
It has been a horribly long journey – surviving the pain of your suicide. The hardest part for me was that I believed I drove you to it. How else could such a promising, brilliant and beautiful young man make such a decision? How else could you be in such pain? How else could you be so despairing? As I write this now, it is clear to me that those tormenting thoughts of mine were irrational – a mind and heart in chaos – desperate for any answer to “Why?” I know now there is no answer to The Why. I know now, you probably couldn’t answer The Why even if I could speak to you. Your decision was not rational, and as you chose what you chose, I don’t believe it was a choice.
But Dyl, I want you to know that we are absolutely certain you are safe with Jesus. We are excited about when we will see you again, but until then, there is much life for us to live and many people for us to love. Since you have been gone, we have had to learn to be a family again without you. I am not sure we could have carried on without the guidance we received at the beginning from the Survivor Support Programme. After that, we met Karen and had such wise counselling. She even came on June 27th that first year to help your friends. We always knew it was time to see her when our emotions felt like a pressure cooker about to explode. I went to programmes called GriefShare & Healing Care at church.
The best books (besides my Bible) I read were: Understanding Your Suicide Grief, Take The Dimness of My Soul Away, Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone You Love, A Grace Disguised, One Thousand Gifts, and The Divine Romance. There were dozens of others, but these left a deep and lasting Hope in my heart.
Oh – and this too…The word Hope became our “family word” and the anchor, the symbol of hope, our family symbol. To this day, people give us anchors and hopes.
So honey, we have arrived at a “new normal”. Funny thing is, we didn’t notice how far we’d gone till we arrived there. I remember wanting to hit the person who told us at the beginning that we’d arrive at a “new normal in life”.
So far, the road to this new normal has allowed us to see Dad’s business grow and be sold (we often think about all the ideas you had about making that business succeed); Nicole’s trip to Capernwray New Zealand to study (she went ahead as planned, just 23 days after you died…we couldn’t believe it); then starting and ending her degree programme at Western (she was a Mustangs hockey player…you would have been so proud); a family trip to celebrate those milestones right after Nicole’s last exam (we even were able to take a small vial of your ashes with us and so we left you all around Kauai…even one place you wouldn’t like…way up on the cliffs of The Sleeping Giant Hike…made me smile remembering how heights made your palms sweat!); and Dyl, over the years, there have been sweet things set up to help others in honour of your memory.
Our life now includes many people we’d not have otherwise met; it is curious how pain opens you up to others and how healing happens sometimes in the helping.
My beautiful Dylan, I want to tell you we are OK. Changed, shattered, softened and healing still, we are able to laugh and be silly sometimes now, to look forward to things again, to make plans for the future without the sharp anguish of your absence from here. Most importantly sweetheart, as we ponder who and where we are now, I am thankful for the huge part your life and death have played in our family life and the lives of others. I understand now what Karen meant when she said that a powerful milestone in our healing journey would be when our reflections were no longer “Why did he die?” but rather “Why did he live?”
Your living taught us so much about laughter, risk-taking, and defending those who need a champion; your dying taught us and our little community so much about hoping and persevering and caring and loving.
Thank you for the gift of you. We love you always, Dylan…mom