Going to visit my father-in-law's grave is a special thing we do. My husband's mother and sisters meet us at our house and it's nearly an hour's drive from there. We get better and better at finding his gravestone every time. We've learned to recognize that it's about two rows up and to the left of that gnarled tree. My kids love to run free and have learned not to step on the gravestones. The rest of us sit by his grave and talk about all the things we love about this kind, gentle, quiet, playful man who slipped out of our lives after a decade long battle with Parkinson's disease.

While my husband and his sisters wandered off to join the kids this particular afternoon, my mother-in-law and I worked with a flat-edged tool to remove any dirt from the letters of his name. When our task was finished, we started making our way over to the rest of the family. The name on one of the gravestones stopped me in my tracks, however. It was a good friend of mine from growing up. I had heard he had died and had never been able to gather enough information to know what had happened. My memories of him were pleasant, happy, fun. He told me once in high school that you could avoid brain freeze by grabbing your neck with both of your hands after you drank something cold.

So here he was, my old friend, just a dozen yards from my father-in-law, in his final resting place. It was so strange and unnerving to know he was gone from life at just 30. But I wasn't sure which of us was better off. Death seemed to promise a release from the mental anguish, the heavy emotions that I spent my days fighting off only for them to return a few days, a couple weeks later. I spent nearly every moment of every day fighting to be the kind of wife, the kind of mom, the kind of friend and individual that it was so important to me to be. And every day, despite my most determined efforts, she was slipping farther and farther away. I was so tired. I craved rest.

I had probably indulged these thoughts for less than a minute when I realized they would be classified as suicidal. Wow, I thought, taking a mental step back. I never thought I'd be here again. Life and I had done so many wonderful things together since I had battled thoughts of suicide at 20. I was a little less alarmed than the first time I was exposed to them, because I could classify them, see them for what they were. But, wow. Wow. So it's gotten that bad now, has it?

Thinking back a few weeks, though, I remembered saying something really alarming to Danilo. I started calling what happens to me when I am overwhelmed by mental anguish "a storm in my brain." One afternoon, we were driving and I was trying to explain what it felt like to him. "Even though I know better, I feel like no one cares about me. Like I matter to no one. You could line a whole room of people up that told me otherwise, but I wouldn't be able to process it. This is why people kill themselves!"

I determined that yes, these experiences were enough to say that suicidal thoughts was a symptom I was currently dealing with. I'd done it before. I hoped I would make it out on the other side this time. Even though I thought all my strength was gone, I was going to have to dig down deep and find some more. 

Next Chapter: Hope


  1. "I am so tired of hurting. And it's never going to get better. It would be easier to just go to sleep and never wake up." At some of my lowest times, I have had those thoughts. Im grateful that I can speak them aloud and share them with Ryan. Then I know I'm safe.

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