Today, I was hit with a bomb. An insidious, awful bomb. It left me shell-shocked all day. We joked at work instead. Sighed and looked at the floor. We made comfort food for lunch and hacked each other's Facebook statuses for laughs to pretend that we didn't want to scream and cry instead. I spoke with the parent of a teen who ended their life less than 48 hours before as if there had been nothing more than a bad change in the weather. I felt guilty for not reacting more strongly at first, for not running and hugging that parent, for not knowing exactly what to say. For not knowing how to help. It's my job to help.
I sit with others and make decisions about the lives of children on a regular basis. Most of these children don't know me from Tom-what's-his-name walking down the street, yet I help decide details of their life that may or may not be instrumental in their success. Even in situations where we think we have done everything the best we can to help someone, I am flawed, the system is flawed, humans are flawed. We are not in control. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing, no one, in control. Sometimes we implode. Sometimes we see someone self-destruct, destroy themselves, and we are helpless to help.
Today, we had barbecued pork sandwiches and coleslaw for dinner. I helped my kids carve and glitterize pumpkins. I took pictures and posted them to Facebook to pretend I love this time of year. My kids know what they want to be for Halloween. I act excited every time they talk about it. I hate this time of year. I hate it worse after today.
My kids were tucked in and prayed with like every other night. After they fell asleep, I tried to look up toasted pumpkins seeds on Pinterest. I mushed through gooey pumpkin slime for every single seed and my mind started to wander. And then I got antsy. I drank a beer and shampooed my carpet. I stomped around putting things away. When Jason got ready for bed, I was putting on my dishwashing gloves. When he asked me if I was okay, I tried to say yes and I couldn't. He asked if I was almost finished in the kitchen. I said I wouldn't be to bed for a while..... because I was...... sad. What else could I say? I could only sob. Niagara Falls. He is a perfect husband because he hugged me just enough and left me to cry into the dishwater. Like I needed to. Like I had been waiting all day to do, but I thought that if I cleaned the spots out of my carpet, I would feel better.
Jason reminded me that there are things in life that are out of our control. Awful things that we will never understand. But I needed to control something, even something as ridiculously out of control as my carpet, because I hate watching lives spiral downward. I can't imagine losing a child. I can't imagine the feelings of what if, the anger at myself and others, the numbness, the jagged pain of shrapnel in my heart. Honestly, I am just a part of the fall-out. This was not my child, not my family, not even a child who really knew me or knew I knew them. I didn't think I was so attached. I didn't realize this child was now a hurting teen. I didn't have any idea about the hurt, the depression, the whatever it was that brought it to this. I never thought my heart would hurt so badly for those who knew and loved this teenager, for those who wanted to protect and couldn't, for those who are screaming WHY?! to the heavens right now.
The statistics say that two youth per week commit suicide in Washington State alone (http://www.yspp.org/). Another bomb.
We are amping up groups for our youth in the next few weeks to help them cope and work through their grief. We will give out resources and let kids know where to go if they need to talk. We will do our best to help. We will fight our flaws and the flaws in our system and try and make things better. We will work through our grief, or around it, and we will move on. But right now, it just hurts.
I know God is in control. I know He has a plan and a purpose for everything, and I know that what the enemy intends for evil, God will use for good, to save the lives of many (Genesis 50:20-21). My prayer is that God will show Himself as Comforter to the family and to those who loved and knew this child and whose hearts are broken and seeking solace, needing a refuge in this storm (Psalm 18).
There is no other way to end this post. I am still a mess. I have to close saying that I know that I know that I know that God is in control. Even when it doesn't feel like it.