When my dad was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009 I became obsessed with learning about all the natural healing modalities available. Dad’s Dr. recommended he have his kidney removed- but my Dad was a hard NO! No chemo, no surgery, no radiation. This became a call to action for our family. I started researching people healing cancer without “standard” treatment and educating myself on the power of plants and food—the power of our thoughts and beliefs. As soon as I found an online nutrition school, I joined. I had gathered an extensive list of doctors that I followed, signed up for their newsletters, and took courses. So that’s where I was getting my information from on the COVID front- my inbox.
As much as I was listening to “my” doctors during the start of the pandemic, Keith was listening to, and hard into the politics of it. I wasn’t watching the news, commentators, or any MSM. I was listening to the people I had followed since my dad’s diagnosis. These were (are) the people that I listen to, still and trust. Keith is also a business owner and had his own worries. In the beginning, we had some long morning phone conversations comparing notes, of sorts. But at some point, I had to stop taking those morning calls. I had committed to myself to look for, watch/read only the things that would lift us. I was watching online church services and looking for meaning in all of the madness, and for messages of hope and inspiration. I needed to have faith. I would pull out quotes, and positive affirmations and share them with Joe. One of them is still on my refrigerator today- All is well. Things are always working out for us. I just started not answering the phone when Keith would call. Joe was usually nearby, and I knew he would hear us, and mornings were the worst for him. If I went to talk somewhere that he couldn’t listen-he would want to know why I was doing that.
It’s important to say- Joe never was a man that wanted to be looked after in any way. He still needed to feel like my strong husband that would always take care of me. But he knew, no matter how much I tried to hide it from him, that I was scared. I was scared of what was happening.
One morning Mom and I were in the car on our way somewhere, and Keith called. I had him on speaker- I’ve already told you that my mom knew the source of Joe’s depression, but Keith didn’t know anything was going on. In his own words (he would tell me later), he just thought “Joe was an asshole and had been for a long time.” (That’s what happens when you have secrets and are hiding who. you. are. Pushing your friends and family away.) But on this day, when he called to share with us something he’d heard, I had to tell him that I couldn’t talk about what was happening in the world anymore. It was causing me great stress and not helping Joe. I shared with him then, through tears, that Joe was in a bad way. I told him that he was suffering from depression, and though I couldn’t share with him “why” he was depressed, I needed him to know that he was in a very fragile state, and wanted to make sure he would be mindful of that, especially if Joe were around or he talked to him. No more fear. But I will never forget him asking me on that call- “Is he suicidal?” I was stunned at the question! No, I don’t think he’s suicidal. (I don’t remember ever thinking Joe was suicidal until he was.) But he is very worried about things; he’s been depressed for a long time now, and this is making it much worse.
That morning, the 26th of June, when I found Joe’s note, ran through the yard looking for him- thinking STILL… that I could save him- it was Keith that I called. I don’t know what I would’ve done without him. I was too frantic to call the police myself. I needed someone else to do this. I needed someone to hold me up. My whole world was slipping from my grasp. I could feel the ground under my feet trying to swallow me. Thank God my nephew Mitchell was with his dad when I called. Not only was Keith able to keep me on the phone and talk to me, but Mitchell was able to call 911 and get the police on the way. I know now that this was God taking care of me. All of the right people in all the right places. Looking back, there were many of these moments.
Days after Joe died, Keith would ask me: “Last fall when Joe didn’t come home from deer hunting on time, and you called me, were you worried that he’d killed himself, then? Because I thought you were really overreacting.” (Maybe it was that memory that promoted the suicide question when we were on the phone that morning.) I was panicked that night. I don’t ever remember thinking Joe was suicidal, not consciously. I do find it interesting though, that Keith felt I was worried enough, and knowing now what he didn’t know then, thought this was a possibility. Is that what I was thinking that night? Was I worried Joe had done something, then? Was I just so close to it that I couldn’t see that?!?!?! I don’t know. On a subconscious level maybe I was thinking something like that. What I do know is that he was in the woods; it was well after dark; I had no way to communicate with him, he had a gun, and he was in a tree. So it sounds logical to me that I thought he might be hurt, and I was scared.
Keith and I have gone through long periods without seeing or speaking to one another throughout our adult lives- more than I care to admit. Though I have always loved my brother and counted on him many times throughout my life- I have always known that he’d be there if I called him in need- because he always has been. He didn’t understand what had happened that day. Why would Joe ever kill himself? He was mad. He was really, really mad at Joe for doing this. He told me so. But as soon as I showed him the last picture I had taken of Joe- one from the day before he died- all of that anger dissolved. I will NEVER forget the look on his face as he stared at that picture. It put everything into perspective. Even I didn’t realize how much so until I saw Keith’s reaction. He felt so bad that he didn’t understand the shape Joe was in and that he had judged him so harshly. He didn’t know until that moment how deeply Joe had been suffering. He hadn’t seen him for weeks, and the picture that he now looked at, haunted him. He felt a sense of guilt for not coming to see him after that morning phone call with Mom and me. Keith said, “I could’ve just come over and asked him to go fishing; I thought about it.” But Joe wouldn’t have gone. I can’t say that with 100% certainty because I’m not Joe, but I can say with 100% certainty-I don’t believe he would’ve gone fishing.
I don’t want ANYONE to be mad at Joe or feel guilty for not coming around. I shared on my post from the other day that even though Joe had told Kenny & Christie- it didn’t matter- we weren’t equipped to deal with it. We only built a new wall. More silence. I want everyone to understand what depression, anxiety, unrest in the world, and childhood trauma can do to a person. When you feel there’s nowhere to turn, nowhere to get help- the help you’re so desperately seeking- and when there seems to be only one way out, please know that suicide is not the answer. I don’t want anyone to live through what I’ve lived through.
What I do want is for us to start talking; start sharing. To have more compassion and kindness for each other—and what we’ve been through.
Life is messy. But silence is NOT the answer.
Can we please start talking?
We did have my dad until May of 2017- eight years longer than “they” thought we would (and probably longer if he would’ve stuck to the protocol he was on through the initial phase of his treatment.) When he became sick again in early 2017, our whole family gathered and walked him out of this world together. It was beautiful the way we all got dirty and did what needed to be done. We cared for my dad and each other through the whole process. We played music, told stories, laughed, sung songs around the campfire, worked as a team, argued with one another, got mad at each other, got sad, cried—we did it all. For three months we sat vigil over my dad- all of us, never leaving my mom alone, and Joe was a big part of that. He saw what we did for my dad and after my dad, for my mom, and for each other, and he knew that I would be taken care of.
To your healing, and to my healing.
xo, and peace.
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I just want the pain to stop… (video)