In the afternoon, Lovely, Daughter, and I will sprinkle some of his ashes around a tree planted in his memory at Holston Camp. Then on Monday I leave for Montana to visit my parents and extended family. I haven't seen my parents since Zach died. And yes, I will take the bus. It's what I do.
I have been reading, My Son, My Son: A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss, or Suicide by Iris Bolton. She lost her son to suicide. She was a counselor at a counseling center, "The Link." A couple of board members had said after her son's death:
"If she couldn't help her own son, how can she expect to help anyone else?"She goes on to say:
The funny thing is that I agreed. So paralyzing is the combination of depression, guilt, and shock, that its victim is mentally reduced to a jackstraw, a hollow man, a cipher. p. 36I know that feeling. How could/can I be a minister, preaching, teaching, and counseling when I failed my most important assignment? Who in their right minds would listen to anything I have to say when in my primary role as a father I delivered to the world a corpse rather than a living, productive man?
Iris Bolton faces the goblins and continues as a counselor. She writes:
Some persons had declared openly that The Link was finished if I were to return. But we continued to be busy. Parents began to refer teenagers to me for help in preventing their suicides, and I was overwhelmed with the wonder of it. How could they think that I might help them when I had failed to save my own son? I was in awe of what seemed to be a miracle. More than anything else, it helped me to begin to find some meaning in the meaninglessness of Mitch's death. p. 40At some point she decided to disagree with the voices outside (and more importantly inside) of her that said she was a failure. She stuck it out. I hope I can be that strong.
It isn't even so much "the job" as it is the existential feeling of failing. I failed to give my son whatever it was he needed to keep going. I also know that I did what I could given my human fallibility. I know that if I were responsible for this death it wouldn't have happened. But I don't know if that feeling of failure will ever go away.