I lost my brother to suicide a year ago. That’s the cold, hard facts stated as plainly and as simply as humanly possible. That statement is about the only thing that’s even remotely close to being simple when it comes to what this past year has been like.
Everybody faces loss. My family is no different than any other who must put one foot in front of the other after a loved one passes. We’re certainly not alone when it comes to the raw realities of dealing with the aftermath of depression that leads to suicide, either. Everybody pays when someone you love suffers with a mental illness.
Gifted With Joy
And while everyone deals with things differently, my family as a whole is not unique. We are no more or less special than anyone else facing tragedy and each one of us have felt our unfair share of guilt, pain, loss and longing.
But we’ve also been gifted with much joy this past year as well. Thankfully, I’m not too lost in loss and grief to be grateful for what we do have.
Kyson, my brother’s now 20 month-old son, is living in this province now only because of the loss of his father. That means we get to see him more than we would have had the family remained out west.
While I’d never go so far as to call that a blessing, I’d never be one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I cling to those little visits and I cherish each and every one. Seeing that little lad interacting with his loving older cousins is precious.
Kyson is an interesting kid and he’s been a joy to get to know. He’s the only lad I’ve ever seen who you can put to bed – even on the floor of the camper on a mattress – with nothing but a few books. The little fella will ‘read’ himself to sleep and not budge. It’s incredible. He’s a happy, quiet, content little boy – but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry over him. The stinker isn’t walking yet. In fact, he’s not even trying. He’s not saying too much, either.
A Pardy Party
And we have to have an EpiPen with us wherever we go; just in case. He takes a puffer. He still loves his ‘nummie’ and, when we last got together, he was most pleasant when sat in a pile of dirt.
Is it still hard? You bet.
Seeing Kyson visiting his pappa at the graveyard is heartbreaking and painful. That’s our burden to carry. The alternative is to act as if that isn’t our reality, and not facing facts helps no one.
While Kyson’s mom has started to move on with her life, my brother is never far from her mind and heart. “It’s a Pardy party,” she said in honour of one of my brother’s more famous statements when last we got together for a fun time at the camper.
So, how has this last year been? It’s been horrible. It’s been sad. It’s been a challenge. But it’s also been a gift. And because of all the good – like getting to know Kyson – that’s come out of the bad of losing my brother, I simply have no choice but to be grateful.
In my heart, for the sake of everything that keeps me sane, I can’t think of this past year in any other way.
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org