I knew it would happen. I thought I would be prepared when it did. Still, though, it is difficult. I run into an acquaintance I haven’t seen in a few years. He asks how we are. I tell him the children and I are doing really well, assuming that is the gist of his question.
He asks where my husband is. I hesitate, thinking I will lie and say we aren’t together any longer. I just can’t get comfortable with it, so I am truthful, saying he died. He seems surprised, and asks how. I am proud of myself that I can say it without falling apart: he committed suicide. There is a silence, and then I see it in his eyes. He connects it. He says he remembers reading something. That was me? I see him trying to process it, trying to reconcile the person he knew as my husband with the story he read. I confirm it. I want to spare him his unease, but just don’t know what to say. He says it just doesn’t make sense, and then asks me how something like this can happen. As though we are commenting on something we’ve both just seen on TV. It is awkward as he realizes what he’s just said aloud. He is a kind person, and clearly somewhat shaken; at a loss for the right words, but he searches for an answer. He keeps shaking his head as though that will change it.
I feel like I am not in my body, as though I am watching the interaction like a movie. The same feeling I had of watching Law and Order and looking down onto the person the paramedic was working in the ambulance. It is someone else these things happened to.
Finally I tune back into what he is saying. Pleasantly I thank him for his concern, and reassure him we really are doing okay. As I leave I am sorry I have left him with such a difficult thing to process. There is nothing in his experience like this. It bounces around his brain trying to find a resting spot with similar experiences. It is unrecognizable and becomes more evident the longer it lingers in the conscious mind. I have stopped asking the question, finally accepting there is no answer, and even if there were, it would never satisfy me. No answer could explain something so wrong. No answer makes sense. It will never make sense.
He was rude to be so invasive. Period.
We have known each other 25 years. I don’t think less of him, nor that he was being rude. I think we want an explanation when someone is ‘too young’ to die so we can process and evaluate the possibilty of our own premature mortality. I could have declined and suggested I’d rather not say. I chose to answer and put it out there after covering everything up and lying for a long, long time to everyone.
Gracious is the only response and that can only come from the Grace of God. You were gracious in your response, God provided the words, God will provide the words when this happens again and again.