It started with a phone call…..

How will I ever find joy again after receiving that devastating phone call?  The phone call that informed me that my beautiful daughter, had taken her own life! Or had she?    All I could do was scream…and I did….over and over and over again.  I still scream today, three years later, only silently ….. Silent Screams…..

. . . then a funeral; and constant heartbreak every day since.

The fall and winter of 2016 was full of funeral preparations, travel and overwhelming sadness. We traveled to Arlington National Cemetery and laid her to rest on December 7th; so many people, so many tears. I felt like a zombie,… numb,… just going through the motions. I kept telling myself that I had to be strong, be that oak tree, keep it together, hold back the tears, wait until your alone to cry. “Thank you for coming”…..

After the police investigation and several Army investigations, there are still too many unanswered questions for me to completely accept it.  Time discrepancies, conflicting statements, why didn’t they get her phone records? Are all questions that will forever trouble me.  But, the one question that haunts me is “Why?

Suicide is such a personal death.  It shreds the very fabric of our souls.  It’s a cry of bottomless despair that ends up creating an even larger hole within us; an insidious reaper of our basic comprehension of life, of what we thought we knew about our world and the people who are essential in our lives. It’s a decisive turning away from those who love you.

We, the survivors, travel on a sea-saw of emotions from sadness to guilt to depression to anger toward the person who made this fatal decision. Guilt for not seeing; not being enough; not knowing there was something we needed to do or say. I try to put myself inside her thoughts, and I can only imagine the desperation she must have felt to believe that this was her only choice.

I always go back to the thought that it can’t be true . . . not her. She was strong, she was amazing. She always shined. How could she be so lost, when she had been able to touch so many lives, help so many people find their footing?  How could she not know how truly special she was?

8th Army Soldier of the Year Award

I listened to a song by Rascal Flatts, with the same questions that keep running through my mind. The name of the song is, “Why?” The song makes me uncontrollably sob every time I listen to the lyrics:

“Why, that’s what I keep asking. Was there anything I could have said or done?  Oh, I had no clue you were masking. . . a troubled soul. God only knows, what went wrong and why . . . you’d leave the stage in the middle of a song.”

I stopped listening to songs like this, and pretty much most music, as so many songs brought her to my mind.  I thought if I didn’t cry so much, maybe one day I would be able to stop crying.  I turned my music to gospel.  I don’t go to church or regularly listen to gospel music so I had never heard the song “He Said” by Group 1 Crew.  This song was perfect for me and gave me some strength.  Every time, I felt like I was sinking into a hole, I played this song. 

Since that dreadful day in August, I have learned a lot about myself.  One of which, is that I’m not an “Oak Tree” as some have called me.  I’m not strong at all……not this time…this time, I am FLOORED!

My new routine became rising each morning after a sleepless night knowing that I had to face another day without her, saying out loud “I miss you Sabrina”. Going through the motions of my work and other daily tasks; self-medicating with as much wine as I could in an effort to not feel this unbearable pain; and going to bed each night staring at her picture, crying and saying out loud “I miss you Sabrina”. I was totally broken.

I didn’t want grief counselling. I didn’t want to talk to friends or family. I hated everything and everybody. I just wanted to be alone with my sadness.  I felt that I surely would lose it if I heard “I’m sorry for your loss” one more time!  I stopped opening the cards and just threw them in a box that I had labeled “Sorry for Your Loss”.  I told myself, I would go through those things one day when I am in a better frame of mind to receive and appreciate the thought behind them. 

Upon our return home from her funeral in December of 2016, I awoke to the most beautiful snowfall.  The countryside was covered.  What would normally make me smile and feel joy, made me cry.  I took my cup of coffee, put on a warm housecoat and my snow boots.  I walked around my property crying and sobbing and screaming.  I couldn’t stop thinking of her.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I couldn’t stop screaming.

The next morning, I looked out the window at the melting snow and I told myself, “If Sabrina were here, she would be out there making a snowman”.  So, I put on the most ridiculous outfit I could find, the more ridiculous the better as far as I was concerned, and I took myself out there in that snow.  As I was rolling the snow, I began to cry and talk to her as if she were right there by my side helping me.  Remembering the many snowmen from the past, rolling the snow, crying, talking to her, crying……. before I knew it, I had made me a dang snowman.  I gave him the finishing touches by loaning him my hat and scarf and an orange highlighter for a nose.  He turned out a little short because in my excitement of the prospect of actually building a snowman, I forgot how hard it was to do all by yourself.  I named him Frenchie.  He made me smile….

The holidays were almost unbearable; more sadness and missing her so badly.  I remember, my husband attempted to cheer me up by taking me to this quaint little country store in our area.  It was decorated beautifully for Christmas.  They sold handmade ornaments, aprons, wreaths and such.  He knew this would be right up my alley and possibly give me joy.  As I walked through this cute little store with so many beautiful items, the handmade ornaments took my thoughts to Sabrina.  I suddenly missed her so desperately that I began to cry.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I hurriedly gave the items that I had selected for purchase to my husband and went to our truck to cry in solitude.

Sabrina was my best friend and Christmas was our holiday; we made handmade ornaments, baked cookies and pies, built snowmen, played games…we loved it and we loved family time. I was grieving not only for yesterdays’ memories of her but also for the tomorrows that I would have to face without her.

On that day, sitting alone in my truck, I decided that I would let myself cry for her no matter where I was or who was around me. No, I am not an oak tree and I have learned that crying is good for my soul. I have also learned that if I seek joy, even in the act of building an adorable little snowman, I may just find it.

I miss you always Sabrina, especially today!