Beautiful. 🙂

WHY

Songwriters: Shamblin, Allen / Mathes, Robert

You must’ve a been in a place so dark, couldn’t feel the light
Reachin’ for you through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered in our little home town
This can’t be the way you meant to draw a crowd

[Chorus]
Oh why, that’s what I keep askin’
Was there anything I could have said or done
Oh I, had no clue you were masking a troubled soul, God only knows
What went wrong, and why you’d leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now in my mind I keep you frozen as a seventeen year old
Roundin’ third to score that winning run
You always played with passion no matter what the game
When you took the stage you shined just like the sun

[Chorus]

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Now the oak trees are swayin’ in the early autumn breeze
The golden sun is shining on my face
The tangled thoughts I hear a mockingbird sing
This old world really ain’t that bad a place

Oh why there’s no comprehending
And who am I to try to judge or explain
Oh, but I do have one burning question
Who told you life wasn’t worth the fight
They were wrong
They lied
And now you’re gone
And we cried

‘Cause It’s not like you, to walk away in the middle of a song

Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song

Dear Brian,

I think you’d be surprised at how many people have approached me for help and/or advice regarding a friend or loved one’s suicidal feelings because they know I lost you to suicide and must be an “expert” of sorts. I feel like saying… seriously?

Let me explain… while I obviously can empathize with the situation they find themselves in I find it perplexing that I would seemingly be someone who they think could help? I knew you were struggling and we talked about it so often those last 5 months… and regardless of what I did or said to try and help, the end result was the same– I was unable to save you and you killed yourself. I’m pretty sure that isn’t anything to throw on my “human experience resume” as a bragging right. If I wanted advice on… let’s say passing the bar exam– would I approach someone who had failed the exam or someone who had actually passed?

You and I were both cursed with an affliction of extremely intense emotions; we both feel things so strongly and so passionately and are so easily affected by the pain of others and desperately want to help. However, I find myself immobilized. I’m caught in a place where my heart so badly wants to help but my mind is telling me that I am in no position to do so. By the time I realize this, not only do I feel unable to help but I’ve become involved to a degree where I have emotions invested but yet I feel powerless to do anything about them. Hearing their stories often triggers me and I find I am transported right back to where I was in 2010 when I worried about you every single day– I could talk to you, I could listen to you, I could tell you I loved you and how badly I wanted you to stay; but each time we hung up the phone I’d worry about you every moment until I heard your voice again.

What complicates things for me with regards to being asked for advice is my own history with feelings of suicidality. I will be brutally honest and say that when I was at my absolute lowest there was NOTHING anyone could have done or said to have helped me; the desire to get better had to come from within. Everything was so distorted for me. If someone had said to me, “I love you and want you to be happy and I don’t want you to leave” what I heard was, “It would be better for me if you would just continue to live your miserable existence– it would inconvenience me greatly if you were to end your life.” I kept thinking if they truly knew how much agony I was in every single day they wouldn’t ask me to promise them that I would stay. And yet I asked you to promise me that very same thing. And truthfully… I absolutely regret having said that to you. I don’t regret letting you know how I felt about you but I wish I hadn’t imparted any additional feelings of guilt upon you.

Now here’s where I get really confusing! Remember how I said there wasn’t anything anyone could have done or said to have made a difference when I wanted out? And how I knew that the change had to come from within me? Well, apparently I refuse to listen to my own words when I think of how horribly I let you down. Someday perhaps I will not feel the guilt that I do today… but for now there is still a huge part of me that blames myself for not being able to save you. For that reason alone I feel completely unqualified for providing anything to anyone beyond a whole lot of empathy and maybe a few hugs.

Love Always,
Laura

Sweet Old World (written by Lucinda Williams)

Album: Wrecking Ball, Emmylou Harris

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss

The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring
Someone calling your name

Somebody so warm cradled in your arm
Didn’t you think you were worth anything

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Millions of us in love, promises made good

Your own flesh and blood
Looking for some truth, dancing with no shoes

The beat, the rhythm, the blues
The pounding of your heart’s drum together with another one
Didn’t you think anyone loved you

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Dear Brian,

While I realize that people don’t necessarily always know the right things to say to someone who is grieving a loss like mine I do have to say there has been nothing that stings quite like someone saying, “I know how you feel. I had to put my dog down recently and I think I know now where you are coming from now.”

Don’t get me wrong… you know how very deep my love for animals goes. It borders on the excessive at times! However, I can’t seem to find a piece of my brain that can understand where that comparison comes into play in this case. You and I both know what it was like to finally have to say goodbye to the loving critters we called our friends from our early childhood until we were nearly out of high school. It was so painful! And to lose another pair of dogs way too young when they accidently jumped off of a bridge near our home and did not survive the fall.

On October 2, 2010 I brought my sweet 7 year old cat, Sophie, to the vet knowing something was really wrong. I would find out that day that she was dying– her kidneys were beginning to fail. On October 6th 2010 I received the last e-mail I’d ever receive from you; it was quite short and said simply this: “Any word on Sophie?” She remained in the hospital until after your funeral. Treating her at home was going well and she was feeling better for a few months but I eventually had to do the loving thing and give her a peaceful exit on January 29, 2011 only 3 short months after I’d lost you.

I know what it is like to lose pets from illness, tragic injury and old age. I know what it is like to lose a Grandparent quite suddenly and to lose one because it was simply their time to go. I’ve experienced many kinds of loss in my life but none could begin to hold a candle to the infinite amount of pain left by your death. There isn’t a single part of me that feels I could ever understand someone making a comparison to the loss of their 16 year old dog to the suicide death of my only sibling.

I hope this isn’t interpreted as a lack of compassion for other losses– as I truly can empathize with the pain that goes along with losing a pet. But it is excruciating to have that comparison made because I know, having experienced both kinds of loss (and in such a short period of time), that there absolutely IS no comparison.

I just felt like sharing that with you… thanks for listening.

Love,
Laura

Dear Brian,

Yesterday I attended FACES OF AUSTIN–a short film exhibition showcasing the work of Austin filmmakers. The final film, of twelve, was called “Helmets for Heath”; it documented the story of a 16 year old boy who died following a skateboarding accident which resulted in a traumatic head injury. It also spoke of his family who has made it their mission to promote the use of helmets in skateboard safety. And, most importantly, it told a beautiful story about the amazing gifts of life he gave to others through the donation of his organs.

Five lives were saved because of Heath. We were allowed to witness the meeting of his mother with the recipient of Heath’s heart. I was immobile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than the sight of his mother placing her ear against the chest of the woman who now carried her son’s heart. She could hear it beating steadily and could even feel it against her cheek! A part of him had literally continued to live while also saving the life of another.

So many things were going through my head. It was such a tragic loss yet in the gift of donating Heath’s organs she also received gifts in return– not only knowing that parts of her son were very much alive yet but that they also brought life back to five people who desperately needed it. I found myself wishing for that chance– to have tangible proof of your physical existence. I have no videos showing you alive and moving; I only have still photographs and inanimate things you once held. But to have the opportunity to hear the beating of your heart again would have been such an amazing gift.

You were a registered organ donor, but your organs could not be donated. It reminded me once again that I didn’t get to see you for myself. You had been dead for a week when you were found and I’m told had decomposed to such a degree that you were unrecognizable and to have been allowed to see you for myself would have resulted in significant trauma. Well, it has been nearly 2-1/2 years and I still struggle often with the thought of which, for me, would have been more traumatic– the memory of having seen you in that condition or the pain I suffer so often because there is that small part of my brain that has failed me miserably and can’t quite seem to grasp the reality of your death because I never had something tangible to prove your death to me?

I was told in person by the funeral directors (who also happen to be very close family friends) that they were not in support of me being allowed to see you. I am fully aware that they had my best interest at heart and I will always love them for that. Although seeing how resistant I was to accept their advice they did, however, discuss an alternative solution for me should I decide in time that I really need that physical proof. They advised me that they could take a few photographs. If I ever decided I absolutely needed them to find some closure, the pictures would be there. Just to be able to see even your hand, to know it was really you.

I know there are plenty of people who will find this upsetting, gruesome or macabre. But when I started writing you these letters, and subsequently decided to share them with the world, I told myself I wouldn’t filter my thoughts to make them easier to tolerate… grief is going to do what grief is going to do. And I have made a promise to myself to always honor that grief within me regardless of how it makes me appear to others.

I haven’t ruled out viewing a picture of your hand… or your tattoo… or even your face. I do know that I’m not yet at a place where I feel it is my only option, though. But for me, having the choice right now means everything.

Thanks for listening, dude.

Love,
Laura

%d bloggers like this: