Posted by: riverchilde | October 2, 2012

Throwing up slugs; or “better out than in”

So, FB friends, please indulge me in another “look back” from Alex’s memorial page. I will probably be referring to the slugs sometimes, and new readers need the context.

OK, confession time. Sometimes (often?) I feel like a fraud. I’m not nearly as brave and strong and “got it all together” as I like to make it seem on these posts. In fact, these posts have the same purpose as whistling in the dark–they keep the monsters and demons at bay.

Labor Day caught me off-guard. I had a plan for the next day, the first day of school in Minnesota. All mapped out. Monsters and demons securely locked away. Only I wasn’t prepared for the Last Day of The Summer of Loss.

Labor Day was a tsunami, and it almost sucked me under for good. It was the special day that marks “end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall” in Minnesota, designed for one last fling at all things that taste of summer, and I couldn’t get off the couch. In fact, I was cocooned, head-to-toe, fetal-position, in a crocheted blanket given to us as a wedding gift by my paternal grandmother. And there was nothing good in the world, nothing that was worth moving a muscle for.

Because, of course, there would never be another summer with Alex in it. NEVER. And this would be the first fall without Alex since his birth. Which meant that there would never be another fall without Alex in it. EVER. But I didn’t actually realize that was the problem. I just felt like I had fallen into a black hole and didn’t really want to make the effort to crawl out. I’d been there before, and it really wasn’t such a bad place to be, after all (yeah, right).

Fortunately, I am married to a very wise, sensitive man who understands and knows me better than I know myself. And like all good heroes, he knew exactly what was going on with me even when I didn’t, and that I needed (needed!) to grieve a bit. And after periodically checking on me, he left me alone to do it.

The front door shut, and I was bereft. He LEFT me! He left me ALONE! (Never mind that I could hear him rummaging around in the garage, and then walking through the leaves in the back yard.) I was ALONE, ALL ALONE, and Alex was gone. Gone forever. The sprinkler went on outside, and the waterworks opened up inside.

We don’t need to go into gory details here. Suffice to say that I was NOT left alone, I was not abandoned, I was only given the space to do the grieving that I needed to do, on a day when I didn’t know I needed to do it. And it hurt like crazy, and it felt so good when the slugs were all out of my system. (If you’ve ever seen the scene in Harry Potter where Hagrid tells Ron “better out than in,” you’ll understand what I mean. And I think kids should be taught that when they are being harassed, they need to let the slugs out, to not to hold the pain inside, but to find ways to let it out. Better out than in. Go watch that scene from the moment Draco Malfoy starts harassing Ron, and see what you think. J.K. Rowling is a genius. And you’ll notice that Ron—and Hermione—didn’t have to endure their humiliation and purging alone.

Nor was I left alone for long. Like a man letting his child wade deeper into the water until just before it becomes too deep, my rescuer stepped in before I went completely under, and his words and embrace helped turn the black pit into a grey one. I spent some time there contemplating Sheol, the Hebrew shadowy place of rest for those who have passed out of this life, and I found it to be a place of comfort. Slowly the light increased, and I surfaced back to this world, this place of sunshine and warmth and love and friendship, purged of many gut-wrenching things that might have made me really, really sick had I kept them inside.

And I was able then, and only then, to embrace the sunshine, and warmth, and love, and friendship of the day, with one last kiss goodbye to summer.



  1. True… letting out is better than holding it in.

  2. […] I’ve had this uncomfortable worry that somehow I might turn into a Munchausen by proxy blogger mom, writing about my son’s death in order to get attention. Losing a child to suicide leaves you questioning and examining every aspect of your life: your parenting, your family, your personality, your selfhood; so I suppose this is the next logical area of questioning. Why am I, as one friend so nicely put it, baring my soul to the entire Internet? (A much, much nicer way of putting it than my imagery of throwing up slugs.) […]

  3. […] able to eat again. You can get out of bed, and then stay out of bed for the whole day. You stop throwing up slugs and you’re able to be among people and life looks possible again. Then one day you wake up […]

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