For those who read my last post or the one’s before where I shared the journey to that point, you would understand this thought: What if I had resisted that desire to turn on the tape recorder that night? Would my children have their mom today? I was that close. What created the urge for a song in just that moment. Why was it that very song, that very chorus that played in that moment? The world is full of What If’s and many of them turn on our response to the urgings and longings that we experience without fully understanding them.
The greatest What If for the person who is suicidal is the one of “What If I Wasn’t Here?”. Let me tell you one of the answers from my own journey.
After a month in the mental ward fighting for enough strength to battle the suicidal leanings of my depression I had come back home to my little town. My husband was at work, my children would be coming home from the place they were staying in just a few hours and so I decided to take a nap. Too tired to do more than pull off my shoes I sprawled across the top of the covers.
I have no idea how long I slept before an odd high pitched keening drove me into consciousness. The sound had something close to sadness but with a strange edge to it. The people around me had always tried to teach me to keep my nose out of other people’s business but I had never gained the earplugs that could stop me from hearing cries like this one so I went to my window.
A heavy set boy of about 8 or 9 was sprawled in the middle of a driveway across the street right along the edge of the road with his backpack tossed slightly away from him. I watched a moment, saw him try to stand and fall again. Had he been hit by a car? Not bothering with shoes or locking my door, I raced across the road.
“Are you hurt? Are you all right?’ My questions were scattered as I knelt down to check on him. His hands pushed me away as he stood, still keening and began winding in unsteady steps down the road. I grabbed his backpack and followed, trying to talk to him, to get him to talk all the way.
Thankfully, I have within me a stubborn cuss because he kept taking his hands and pushing me away. “Listen!” I challenged him, “something is wrong. If you want me to go away you are going to have to say it in words. Otherwise, you are stuck with me.”
I knew the police station was only a little over a block down the road. I would just try to steer him close enough that I could run in and get some help. Or better yet, there wass my neighbor standing in her window watching us. I waved to her, mimicking the use of a phone. She shook her head at me and turned away. The next neighbor simply pulled the blinds.
When we came to the corner where the road turned toward the shallow creek winding near our places, there was no way I was going to let him go that way so I ran around to that side of him. The keening grew as it did each time he saw me close and he pushed away from me turning his steps back to the road that led to the station.
Would no one help? What was wrong with this picture? There was something wrong with this boy! Was he just fooling with me? Why would people turn away like that? But I was stubborn and I knew kids well enough to know that this was not right. I kept talking, not in a sweet voice but in one challenging him to talk to me if he wanted me to leave.
It was then I noticed the cars parked in front of the Baptist church. Finally, someone who might help! I knew some people there and so took the risk of running to the front door and banging as I kept my eyes on him stumbling down the street still in the direction of the police station.
A woman I knew answered the door with a couple others I knew behind her. ”
There is a boy over there and something is wrong with him but he won’t tell me what it is. Can somebody call for help? I need to get back to him.”
“You’re right!” exclaimed the first woman looking past me. “He just fell again!”
As I took off running back to the boy I heard one of the women behind say, “I’ll get my keys and we can drive him to the clinic. The emergency room ….”
I lifted the boy without a thought even though he must have been two thirds my size and carried him back to the car. I held him as we drove and noticed someone had taken the time to pick up his backpack as well.
When we got to the clinic and carried him in, all hell broke loose as the receptionist ran to the back calling his mother’s name. They knew this child. His mother worked there and he was in insulin shock, something I didn’t even know about. They had him on a gurney and had given him the sugar he needed before 3 minutes had passed. They wheeled him off to the back with his mother beside him holding his hand and crying. No one asked my name.
I had the wisdom of the past month to recognize that I was collapsing after the event so I asked the women if they could wait for me because I was in a high anxiety state with the shock of what had just come to light. I would need something to help me calm down enough to go home. It was the cost of the depression and anxiety that had held me in the hospital for that month.
But What If? What if I had given in to the urge, to the belief that my life had so little value that I would be doing a favour to die? Later my neighbours explained their turning away. They knew the boy, he was always causing problems in the community. They were sure he was just pulling one over on me and wanted no part of him. The woman in the church were in a meeting in the back room. There were empty fileds between that church and the back lot of the police station. What if I hadn’t answered that cry?
We never know when it will be our presence that will matter in someone’s life. What if I had not been there that day with all the stubborn cussedness that gets me in trouble so often in my life? What if?
To those who read this I would ask the following:
What if moments like these are in our everyday and we just don’t experience them because we let the scripts from our past tell us thingsthat are hearsay not reality? What if we chose to live life with the belief it matters? What if those words you were so ashamed of so didn’t share are the very ones someone needed to hear? What if the difference is right there if we only lift our eyes or open our ears or speak the words feel a prodding for in some still small place in us we have learned to devalue because others have devalued it before? What if we lived like our lives mattered? What if?