9 Years of Reconciling Grief and Joy

9 years ago today, something awful happened.

Because of that something awful, 9 years ago today, something extraordinary happened, too.

9 years ago, I had graduated high school.  I had been flirting with this amazing guy that I worked with, and his interest seemed reciprocated.  I had some awesome friends that I would miss terribly, leaving them behind to finish their high school journey as I embarked on mine to become a real adult.

On June 13th, 2004, I spent the day goofing off with my friends.  We hung out, played video games, watched movies.  I had plans to stay the night with them, until I got a text message.  The guy I was interested in was free that night.  Did I want to hang out after he got off work?  Maybe go see a movie?

Uhm, D’UH!

Did my parents need to know?  Nah.  They knew I’d be out, and that was good enough.  After all, I was 18 now.  An ADULT.

Off I flew to this guy’s house, after creating a cover story with my friends, just in case my parents called while I was gone (I was out getting cupcakes, btw).  That whole being an adult thing still needed a little work.  My phone rang a few times, but I missed it because I was smoking and listening to my ridiculously loud techno music.

I pulled up in front of his house, tried to dumb down the shit-eating grin I had on my face, and, as I walked up the stairs, he opened the front door.  He had a bowl of spaghetti in one hand… I’ll always remember that for some reason.  As he told me that my friend had called him while I was on my way over and that my parents needed me home immediately, I fixated on that bowl of spaghetti.  ‘Was something wrong?’  It sounded like it.  ‘Oh.’  You have my number, call me when you know what’s up and maybe we can still do something later.

Back to my friend’s house I raced to grab my things and give my parents a quick call.  ‘Sorry, yeah, out getting cupcakes.  Just noticed the missed calls.  What’s up?’  Something bad happened and we need you at home.  ‘Is everyone okay?’  Just come home, we’ll talk when you get here.

A 20 minute drive becomes a nightmare when you’re left with such non-information as that.  Did someone get in a wreck?  Is someone in the hospital?  Someone’s house burn down?  Dog get run over?

These are awful things to ponder in a car by yourself, driving down lonely rural roads.

When I pulled up our driveway, my family was sitting in camping chairs in the yard.  I did a quick count of the 4 of them, mom, dad, brother, sister, and the anxiety disappeared for an instant before returning.

I don’t remember specifics of what was said… But, I do remember my mom holding a big, stuffed Tigger doll while she told me that my favorite Uncle, her only brother, had been found with his dog that afternoon, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He loved Ren and Stimpy.

His favorite childhood character was Tigger.

He smoked Camels.

He was an amazing gardener.

He had a piranha that he decided to stuff and mount when his (eventual ex) girlfriend decided it creeped her out.

He drove semi-trucks for a living.

He called his dog everything but his given name.

That dog was his world.  He chose not to leave the world without his one ever-devoted companion.

He was 38.

He had struggled with drugs forever.

He had tried to leave us before, but intervention only seemed to make his conviction stronger.

9 years ago today, something awful happened.

Because of that something awful, 9 years ago today, something extraordinary happened, too.

After a while, the phone rang.  It was that wonderful guy, checking to see if everything was okay.

I told him what happened.  I cried.  He listened.  He listened for a long time.

For weeks afterwards, he held me when I would suddenly start crying.  He saw me snotty, puffy faced, and red eyed, and continued to call me and ask to see me again.  He’d listen to me just talk.  He came to visit me when I was getting the tattoo in memory of my Uncle and his dog.

This amazing guy was there when my family went through the biggest emotional upheaval it had ever experienced, and it didn’t scare him away.

9 years later, he’s still with me.

He still holds me when I cry.

He understands what I need when he catches me listening to this song:

Today, I grieve a loss.

Today, I celebrate what that loss sparked.

And I wish my Uncle was here to see it.

My Uncle’s pendant and my wedding bouquet.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please don’t hesitate to call.  There is always help.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)

About Domestic Pirate

Hi, my name is Jessica. I am a stay at home momma wench who is addicted to all things Piratey, the internet and cookie dough. If you like any of those things, I think we'll get along just fine.

9 thoughts on “9 Years of Reconciling Grief and Joy

  1. Beautiful, Jess. Tears of sadness and joy for you today. These days are so hard, aren’t they, no matter how long the person has been gone? Some days the evil voices in my head tell myself, “Why am I sitting here crying for my mom? She’s been gone for almost 8 years; get over it.” But it’s not something that has gotten easier, not something I’ve moved on from, accepted, or gotten any easier. I hope today you hug your husband extra tight, hug your kids, share with them the memories of your uncle, and smile. Not sure if these words help, or even the best thing to say, years later, but I’m thinking of you and your family and praying for peace. <3

    1. Thanks so much Sarah. They are hard, and they creep up on you and grab you when you least expect it. We’ve been so busy the past week that I didn’t realize it was upon me until I took note of today’s date.

      Someone told me a while ago that it takes 10 years to accept a loved one’s passing. I hope it gets easier for you, and much love and hugs your way in remembrance of your mother’s passing.

  2. I’m so sorry and so happy for you in one post. It’s an amazing thing to find that person who will always hold you when you cry. And suicide awareness and prevention is very important. Thanks for this lovely post.

  3. Thanks for opening up and sharing this bittersweet story. It seems everyone’s life has been impacted by a suicide. As the years have gone by, I’ve thought of it less with anger and more with sadness and can even remember the good times. Healing does not mean forgetting. *Hugs*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Scroll To Top