Small thoughts for big feelings.
CW: Suicide and death.
My son and I drive the few blocks to the synagogue in pained silence. There are no words for driving to the funeral of a young man who took his own life. Too young. Too soon. I park on the street, knowing the parking lot will be full. Knowing hundreds of people will show up for this shattered family.
We exit the car, our hush continues — hands held tightly — as we make our way to the line of black clad mourners entering the temple. My son, 22, towers over me, but holding his hand, I am a young mother again, gripping my small blonde boy for safety. His. Mine.
So many familiar faces, now etched with age, most not seen for a decade, not since my son graduated from elementary school. Behind me, I see my husband and daughter arrive. They were schoolmates, this young man and my children. His mother worked at the school for decades, she is beloved.
We are a community again. Communing in mourning.
The sanctuary overflows, they bring in extra chairs, people are told to sit, the memorial is about to begin. My son sits next to me, my husband and daughter in the row behind us. A silent pall of grief ties friends and strangers together.
The rabbi accompanies the parents to their seats. The mother wails. I close my eyes to look away.
The rabbi begins, her voice gentle and clear. “There will be no shame, no stigma. We will say the words suicide and mental illness. We will hold this family and we will not look away.”
I don’t close my eyes again.
Through tears and laughter, family and friends share stories of his humor and kindness, his tender soul and loving heart.
His brother begins with, “This is what I would have said to my brother had he called me. But he didn’t, so I’m telling you, and you have to listen to me because I’m the brother of the kid who killed himself and if you feel that way, you better fucking call me. I’m not kidding, my phone number is…”
I grip my son’s warm hand tighter. Together we tremble. I quickly glance back at my daughter. She’s still there. Every mother knows the deal with the devil for this bountiful love is the…