Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What ifs

A friend of mine lost his dad when he was around 14. His way of dealing with it was to pretend that it had never happened. He locked the event away in a mental box and continued to live his life as though the rug had never been pulled out from under his feet. He was the friend I called to come be with me the day I lost my family, after the homicide detectives had left. One of the very first things he said to me was "face this. Do not lock it away like I did, that is the stupidest thing you can do." I had never had any intentions of doing anything other than facing it, but I held his advice close to heart.

Meeting suicide survivors, one of the things I often hear is 'you can't think like that.' That is - life goes on, and you can't dwell on the experience, and you especially can't dwell on not knowing. I've tried my very best not to dwell. I obtained all of the information I could - police reports, autopsy photos, my dad's web search history - and then focused my efforts on accepting the event as the event and as something I will never understand.

But every once in a while, the 'what ifs' rise up. What if it wasn't really a murder-suicide, but there was foul play? What if my father's suicide was an accident, and he meant to stay living? What if I hadn't gone away to university? What if I had taken her seriously and called the police when my mother joked about having a mass suicide? What if I hadn't told my father, the week before, about how hard it was visiting home?

What if this is all a dream?

It seems like it would be so much easier believing that something other than what the evidence points to happened, or that the event never happened at all. And it seems like it would be so much more fulfilling if I could finally find answers to the questions that no one on this earth can answer.

The what ifs are so tantalizing - they offer the promise of a solution that does not exist. And, like Tantalus in his hell, they offer nothing but an unquenchable thirst. But sometimes I just get so, so thirsty on my own that, as much as I know the pool will recede when I do, I have to bend down to try and take a sip.


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