I don't know if I have the details of this memory correct. I could ask my mother but I'd rather not. I'll just tell it the best way a first grader might.
It's almost Christmas. The postman rings the bell. He has packages for my little sister, me and my brothers. There is a card for my mother. She hands me our box and my sister and I devour it. Inside, there are ceramic Raggedy Ann and Andy happy faces that we'll hang on the wall when my mother can finally collect herself. She's falling apart. I am thinking the postman will come again tomorrow morning but there won't be any more gifts. My aunt mailed these the day of her suicide.
This memory is present in mind because last week, in this small rural hole-in-the-wall, a mother of three, like my aunt, took her life. And like my aunt, there were many failed attempts. I'll detail neither account except to say, in the end, each woman was fully committed to success. Period.
Over the years, my mother has recounted my aunt's life to me. And in each story, there is always the underlying awareness that my mother's own survival had a great deal to do with her ability to restrain herself, her ability to stay within the lines even when the lines were drawn by corrupt and abusive adults. She knew when to keep her mouth shut. She knew when to hide. Through it all, she had the ability to laugh at her world. Sarcasm would become her art form. It was her weapon of choice. I realize now she had found a way to stay connected to her larger Her.
Not my aunt. To restrain was self abuse. To stay within the lines an act of torture. She was vibrant and beautiful. Voluptuous and untamed. And, Christ, she could sing. She was born for vivid self-expression that was never actualized. Her dreams were high and her disappointments low. One day, she just stopped dreaming. Low kept getting lower. Had she ever been connected to the larger Her? If she had never looked inside, she had certainly looked outside of herself for connection. Too much, too often...maybe.
After the funeral (another one I did not attend), my mother found her diary. Like a farewell letter, my aunt shared her darkest thoughts and secrets. I'll not detail those either except to say she was living in a world so dark there could be no other energy flowing to her but more darkness. That is when my mother made peace with her death. She knew my aunt had found a route back to Light.
Here, people are still talking about the beautiful woman I met only once. She was vibrant. I would not have thought she had attempted anything unkind towards herself when talking to her. She had a loving husband and amazing children. A husband who says he would do each moment over again. He makes me wish I would have known her.
To aid my mourning, I have to sow thoughts. Unclear ones but some stream of consciousness that says the world will turn its axis towards compassion for those so different that we're all, eventually, allowed to be who we really are...with ease.