It's been 3.5 years. I still remember the experience of May 2010.
The night I got a call that my brother attempted suicide for the 6th time. My first, first hand experience. [This hasn't been the last time he has done this, but the only one I have been close enough to be apart of.] I was told not to go to the hospital, but to got to bed because he was non responsive and there was nothing I could do. I didn't argue. I did what I was told. I had to work the next day.
But I didn't sleep. My mind wandered through my childhood, through what we experienced, what my brother experienced, why he suffered, why my life was different. My thoughts were like daggers, they shot out of nowhere. I was restless, I didn't know what to do. Knew my Mom & Dad would blame me. Knew that my sister would be angry. Knew that the days ahead were going to be beyond tough.
I had no clue how tough.
My brother was non responsive for 3 days. I went to the ICU of the hospital before work. I went to the ICU of the hospital during lunch. I went to the ICU of the hospital after work. For 4 days. I ate on the run. I slept on the run. I lived on the run. I took calls between on my drive. I texted between tasks at work. I cried between the times when my boss was in and out of the office. I cried between phone calls at work. I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do. I prayed as if my life depended on it. Because it did.
When he did wake up, he was mean, ugly and hateful. Very hateful to the point that the person who had provided him a place to live, walked out on him. I stayed. I talked to him. I tried to show him I loved him and cared deeply, that I wanted the best for him. I wasn't sure it worked. But I was determined to give every ounce of anything I had to his success.
This was my routine until he was moved to the mental health department/ward of the hospital and then things became more restrictive, not less. Limited hours of visiting. Limited people to see him. Limited items in his possession. Limited everything under the sun.
These memories become very vivid when someone you know and love attempts the same thing. Is at the same hospital. Is going through the same protocols. Is showing the same signs and symptoms. Is hurting. Is wanting a way out of life. Is discouraged. Is questioning God. Is condemned for their actions. Is told things that are not true. Is confused. Doesn't feel there is hope.
My heart aches. I know what they are facing, first hand.
Reliving these memories the last few days truly is hard to put into words how quickly you can be back in a zone, remember the details, sympathize in the pain, and yet still praise God for his love, his care, the impact he makes in all the details.
In reflecting, I am grateful for the lessons learned through this experience from the Letting Go Poem given to me by the hospital staff. The ability to be able to listen to a hurting mother pour out her heart, her grief, her pain, her sorrow, her regret, her questions, her hope, her love, her faith in God, her belief that he will work all things for good, her desire to be different, her need for friends.
It reminds me of how I was able to take strength in the truth and sing "How Can I Keep From Singing" by Chris Tomlin, by myelf [solo] and a Capella [no accompiant] the following Sunday not quite a week after my brother attempted suicide, when my heart was aching and screaming for answers, when people had shallow words of comfort, when nobody could understand what I knew he was facing and why, when everyday life was truly just hard, when God was the only person I felt understood.
It is why, when I needed to be on the road out of town to a clients office today, I choose to stay, I sat and listened. I didn't ask questions. It doesn't matter why her son attempted suicide. It doesn't matter how he did it. It doesn't matter what people think the problem is. It doesn't matter how they think they will fix it. It doesn't matter. None of that matters. God is the only one who can fix it. None of the rest matters. When I say it doesn't matter, I mean it, it truly doesn't matter one bit.
He is hurting. He feels life isn't worth it. He is discouraged. He is feeling lost. He is doubting. He needs encouragement. He needs love. He needs friends. He needs support. He needs prayer. He needs Jesus.
I wish people would get a clue.
You face enough of your own doubts during times like this. You don't need other people heaping them on you. It only drives the hurt deeper into your heart.
What could I have said different? What could I have done different? What did I do to contribute to this problem? How can I help? How can I give strength? What will happen? If only...
What matters? That we be the arms, the feet, the hands, the ears, the heart of God. That we listen. That we love. That we show we care. That we point to the one who is the God of all comfort. The one who provides strength. The one who gives hope. The one who loves beyond all doubt. The one who gave his life for us. The one. And only one. God.
I only pray that somehow I can encourage those facing this time of trial, difficulty, pain the same way. I pray that by my experience through something I never dreamed I would face, that I can share in their pain and suffering.
It is easy to forget. It is easy to lose heart. It is easy to get out of focus.
God LOVES you! God cares deeply about what you are facing. He is with you, in every step of this courageous journey!