The Conversation I’ve Dreaded

Since being pregnant with Keaton, I have dread the day he would ask about my mom. I have dreaded explaining how this marvelous women who loved me more than anything decided to take her life. How do I say she left me, but I won’t leave him? How do I explain suicide in an age appropriate way? While I don’t think of it often, at times a fear comes over me of when the conversation will happen. I haven’t avoided it, but also have not felt like it was time to talk about it with a four year old. I often expected him to ask at an AFSP walk, but there we usually focus on wanting everyone to know they aren’t alone.

This week we are fortunate to have Matthew’s mom in town. I always joke it is like having Mary Poppins here when she comes! Today Matthew had the day off and the two of them spent the day cleaning out boxes of old papers. As I was sitting answering some emails tonight with Keaton playing across the table, Matthew handed me a black spiral notebook and he said he found it. I opened it and immediately recognized my mom’s handwriting. Seeing it took my breath away and as I read different entries, I realized it was her journal the summer before she died.

My mother made an attempt the end of May that year and spent about six weeks in a day treatment program. This journal contained her thoughts from each day. One page talked about how much she loved my sister and me. I struggled to not start crying as I flipped through the pages. I had read the words, but it has been years since my mind was vividly back to the months before she decided to take her life. I lived with her those months… it was just the two of us. Each day she went to counseling and journaled her experience… she would read me her words…

Reading the words 20 years later was a different experience. The second page of the journal discussed how she knew how much I worried about her and lived in fear she would do something. She continued to reflect on how she needed to be the mom and let me be the kid….

When Matthew walked into the room, I told him the journal was my mom’s.

Keaton looked at me and said: “Who is your mom?”

I think I might have gasped and said “her name was Cecilia.”

He then asked “do you miss her.”

I said “yes I do.”

He then asked the question I have dreaded “what happened to her?”

I replied “her head was very sick.”

He asked if it was “wobbly” (that is what he says when he has allergies and his head feels funny).

I stated “it was much worse than being wobbly.”

He then asked “can I see a picture of her.”

I said “absolutely.”

As I was searching for a picture I explained how he reminded me of her.

He said “I do?!”

I explained how he is left handed and so was she.

He got a huge smile on his face.

I then proceeded to show him a dated picture of us when I was in high school. He didn’t recognize my sister and laughed at my glasses.

We both went on with what we were doing.  

A few minutes later he said “Mom can I tell you something.”

I told him of course.”

He said “I love you”.

In that moment I have never felt so close yet so far away from my mother. I see more of her in Keaton than I can explain, but his reaction to the conversation I have dreaded for five years was what reminded me the most of her. He loved me and cared about my feelings. These two things were the epitome of my mother. The conversation I have dreaded the most, ended up being the most beautiful moment with my precious son.

Please help me continue to remember my mom as I walk in the AFSP Overnight Walk on June 2 in Dallas. No amount is too small.


4 responses to “The Conversation I’ve Dreaded”

  1. That was just lovely. You are so good. And such a great example of how to love and how to talk. ❤️❤️

  2. Any, even from a distance I learn so much from you.

    Thank you for sharing those things that are easier unsaid but need to be said.

    You are amazing!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I lost my mother to suicide in 1975 when I was 12 years old. My children learned about my mother while we were watching a movie. The topic suddenly appeared and I couldn’t turn off the TV fast enough. The kids were around 7 and 10. After I told them why I was so emotional about the movie, they were very sweet and compassionate.

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