Friday, April 30, 2010

The Best of Times and Worst of Times

We'll start with yesterday . . .

My family lives an hour away from us, which really sucks. I am the oldest of 5 kids, and I have the best parents and siblings in the world. My mom is the coolest mom ever, and she loves all of us kids with a fierceness that is unequaled. My dad is one of the smartest people I know and through all of the ups and downs of our lives he has always been there. I have never gone a single day in my life without hearing, usually mulitiple times, that they love me. Every night, and every time I would leave the house, that was the last thing I would hear. I have never, never once doubted that my parents love me. On that score, I am truly blessed.

My siblings are amazing. I have two brothers and two sisters. My first brother has been the protector of his mom and sisters since he was old enough to walk and talk. Once in junior high I got mad at this one guy who was being a putz, and I told my brother to go kick him for me. My little brother, a scrawny, thin as a pole, seventh grader brother walked up to this burly ninth grade wrestler, and kicked him. My dear brother practically forfeited his life to get even with some guy who had broken my little ninth grader heart.

My sister is next. She and I are spitting images of my mom, and everywhere we go there is no doubt that we are sisters. Even people I have never met have asked if I was her sister. She is the most spiritually sensitive person I know. We went on a family vacation a couple years ago and on the way home we stopped in Nevada to get lunch. The only places around were casinos, and we had to walk through an entire casino to get to the restaurant. The smoke was thick, and for us, a religious family all our lives, you could just feel the bad spirit in the air. My precious sister was in tears because of our surroundings and how horrible it made her feel.

My younger brother is very gifted. At the age of 7 he was drawing those pictures where you tip this thing over and it knocks the ball onto the ramp, which bumps this thing, which falls over and launches this thing. Seven years old. He's 10 now, and he reads books that are high school level. He's very perceptive. He asks questions about things he sees that I didn't even think about, much less ask clarification for, until I was a teenager. We watched Phantom of the Opera and he was running over with the most intelligent questions. He's a hugger. He's also a really big kid, at least a head taller than all the other kids his age and muscle to back it up, but he's a teddy bear. He has to hug everyone in the house good night before he goes to bed.

My younger sister is a spitfire. She acts like a teenage drama queen, and she's a little brat when she wants to be. But she is also a sharp observer and never hesitant to ask to help with whatever you're doing. It could be making dinner, cutting out paper dolls, doing nails, anything, she wants to help. She was born when I was 14, and just a year and a few months after my younger brother, and I was a bit more attuned to maternal instincts at that point which just made it more special. She is also the favorite playmate of my daughter, despite the 6 year difference between them, and my daughter adores her.

We're with my family this week, just hanging out like we try to do every week. My mom and sister and I talked forever last night about everything, looking at funny pictures on the internet, talking about the book my mom is reading now, laughing hysterically at how we get increasingly loopy and crazy the later it gets. Today my mom and I took my daughter and we went to a fabulous Chinese buffet Brigham City. We watched my daughter slurp lo mein and throw rice and flirt with the old man in the booth behind us until the waitresses were giving us funny looks at trying to smother our laughter. Then, on our way out, my mom gave my daughter a penny to throw in the fountain at the front. She did this, quite fascinated that I let her, then proceeded to pick up one of the decorative rocks beside the fountain and had her arm cocked back to throw that sucker before I managed to get it out of her grip. I also tried to walk out of the restaurant still carrying my glass before my mom reminded me (amid giggles) that I couldn't take it home with me.

Awhile later while I was talking with my mom and sister again, listening to my daughter and younger sister run through the house giggling and jabbering, my husband came up the stairs with the news that his cousin had just committed suicide. He's a few years younger than me, his adult life just barely starting.

We weren't very close to this cousin, but we knew him. His family and my husband's family are pretty close, especially because his mom and my husbands mom are very close sisters. It came as a huge shock. We all knew he had been having troubles the past few years, but no one expected this. My mouth just hung open for several minutes as I processed this information. It's still not quite real to me. I've had a few family members die, two grandparents, one great grandma, and two cousins that also died unexpectedly, although not suicides. The one I was closest with was my grandma, and her health and mental capacity had been deteriorating for years before she finally died. The amazing woman that she used to be died long before her body followed her.

This death is a new experience for me. I have never known somebody who committed suicide before. His death has left everybody reeling. He was a great kid. He was funny. He could have been a professional chef if he wanted, he had an amazing talent. He committed suicide today when his parents were both at work. He got into the truck in the garage, turned it on, and left it idling. We don't know how long it was before his dad found him. His dad did CPR while he called 911, but he was already long gone. We have no idea what to do. My sister-in-law has a birthday this weekend that she will probably remember as one of the saddest in her life. My other sister-in-law is in Europe right now on a college British Literary Tour, she just left on Monday and is supposed to stay there for another 3 weeks. How will she remember this experience that she has been saving for and planning for over a year?

This has been a day filled with emotions of such polar opposites of the spectrum. I love coming to my family's house. There is so much comfort for me here, such a sense of acceptance and unconditional love in unmeasurable amounts. My mom hates it when we have to leave, and so do I. I've gone to lunch with my mom, looked at funny stuff on the internet with my sisters, played with my daughter, snuggled with my husband, hugged my dad, marvelled at my younger brother, and missed my other brother and his new wife of almost 5 months who wasn't able to get off work and come up here with his wife this weekend. I love them all so much it hurts.

And I've been in complete shock and felt such heartbreak for my husband's aunt, uncle, and cousins who are probably sitting at home right now still struggling with the thought that they will never talk to their son and brother again. They will never hear his voice, never see his smile, never have to wonder where he is after curfew, never be able to wonder what kind of man he will grow into. He is gone from their lives and they will never see him again in this world. I had a horrible nightmare a few months ago that my daughter fell into a stream and she was stuck and I couldn't reach her and couldn't get her out, and I was so scared and traumatized that I was afraid to go back to sleep and had to check on her to make sure she was ok. I rarely cry, but I did that night.

His parents are living that right now, and they aren't going to wake up from it, and it's not going to go away, and he's never coming back, and there is nothing anyone can do.

What does anyone do when this happens?

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