Summer of 1998 was a summer of survival. I was living with my mom and by the end of August she would kill herself. Almost everyday that summer was survival. So many times at the end of the day I would watch the sunset and for the only time in the day exhale. I had survived another day… my mom had survived another day.
Today I left our house at 7 am to drive to Harker Heights for the Greater Ft Hood AFSP Out of Darkness Walk. I was going because I am the board chair for the Central TX Chapter… but Harker Heights is where my mom died… it is where I lived with her the summer before she died.
When your mom dies 21 years ago, you stop thinking about it as much as you did in the first few years… decade… after she dies. As I started the drive, my mind went back to the last summer with my mom… and then I see it. The most remarkable sunrise. The sun is so big and round. The colors of the sky are truly majestic and my mind is immediately taken back 21 years.
One night during that summer 21 years ago my mom and I were driving around… we often did that at night. We could tell the sunset was going to be remarkable and we drove down some small road outside of town and stopped on the side of the road to fully take in the beauty. I don’t fully remember the conversation with my mom, but honestly looking back now, I feel like it was her telling me goodbye in the only way she knew how. We sat there and took in the beautiful colors. I remember once again being thankful we had survived another day.
Fast forward more than 21 years and here I am looking at the same amazing sun but this time instead of watching it go down, I am watching it rise. Instead of being thankful I survived another day, I am thankful for another day to live… and live fully.
I decided to drive by the house where my mom died while I was in Harker Heights today… I actually was surprised I could remember where it was. Of course lots of memories and feelings flooded over me… but more than anything I had a profound sense of gratitude. I hate my mom killed herself, but I am so grateful through tragedy and grief, somehow, I have found how not only to survive but to live.