Letter to a Depressed mom,
on Mother’s Day
I met you at a joyful time in my life.
You were strong and beautiful. You were not crazy. You were not mentally ill.
But you were determined to kill yourself,
and you told me just ten minutes after we met.
This letter is for you, L.
I thought of you today when I looked out this magnificent window that you left behind.
Each day I open my eyes and this is my first view of the world. A magnificent forest alive with birds, trees, and brilliant shards of light. A slice of heaven on earth.
I heard your words ring in my head this morning when I asked about that window. “We’ve never had curtains,” you said.
And I was astonished.
It was the day I was about to buy your house, and I recall thinking it would be impossible to sleep with the unknown of the scary forest peeking in the wall of windows that surround the bedroom!
I was coming from a place of fear –
that has since been rooted out of my heart by love.
Before I met you that day, your
realtor took me on a tour through the home.
In the master bedroom I felt an unexplainable sadness when I sat on the corner of your bed, and I began to cry.
The realtor looked at me uncomfortably.
Today I understand what I didn’t back then. That there are things we cannot see, but that we can feel. I understand that humans are mind, body, and spirit and that we can sometimes feel the grief of another even if we haven’t met them yet.
When I made the offer on the house, I knew I would have to leave behind my dream. I had a seven acre ranch with nine animals including horses, and a pretty adorable black and white cow. I had a barn, an ATV, and an amazing little pond to fish in.
I told the realtor the truth. “I can’t explain this. I love my ranch. I just feel as if buying this new home is not about me.”
He sat there, stunned, and later he told me that it was the deal that changed his life.
He told me that the wife had tried to commit suicide once already, and that the husband and kids had been living there alone.
You had checked out, L. Somewhere between school activities, making dinner and folding laundry you had decided it wasn’t worth it anymore.
When I met you I knew exactly why I was supposed to live in your house. The house itself has become a metaphor for possibility. It feels as if anything is possible, here.
On the day you handed over the keys to a stranger, your eyes were flat and your body
soulless as you told me, robotically,
“I’m going to kill myself.”
It was you, but you were not there, as if something had taken over your soul.
You were a walking zombie, flat and cold.
Already dead. Deadened by years of inner conflict and discontent, and by whatever demons had corrupted your heart.
It was just me and you sitting there in your dining room, because your four girls were upstairs running through the bedrooms and halls, saying goodbye to their childhood.
You were ready to move on.
I could hear their footsteps, and I felt the shivers of a thousand years and the souls of regretful suicides.
And then I felt anger.
I’m writing this letter to you today,
because I know you’re healed.
And I want you to know I am too.
I told you about my father that day, and how he took his own life. I told you about the anger that crept into my heart as a child, hollowed it out, and turned it into stone. I told you about my youth, my difficulty in understanding relationships, my fear of being abandoned as a child and my decision, at twelve, never to love anyone. And then I told you about my transformed heart.
I spoke to you not as another mother but as a daughter who had suffered from a parents decision.
“If you commit suicide,” I said, “Your children will never believe you loved them. They will know that you didn’t care enough about them to stay.”
We left it at that.
I spent that first night in my new empty house, (yours and mine) thinking of you. Praying for you. Pleading with you silently.
I slept on the floor by the fire because there was no furniture, and stared at the ceiling.
To all the mothers out there who think there’s no other solution, this letter is for you, too.
hang on. The sun will rise on another day.
L, I thought of you often and then again years later, when a mother a few miles away took her own life, and killed her children and husband too. There had been no argument. She was not crazy. But she was depressed and suicidal, and she kept it inside.
When I read the story I wanted to turn back time.
“If only,” I thought.
Even though she was a stranger, I had a feeling of loss and regret that our paths hadn’t crossed before she made that horrific decision. Could I have said something to make a difference? Yes, I thought. I would have tried.
But you can’t live in that thought.
You cannot reverse a bad decision.
You have to choose not to make one.
This letter is to wish you a happy Mother’s Day, L.
What kind of mother have you decided to be?
I have two children of my own now and their laughter fills the rooms that your children were once raised in.
We’ve had hundreds come through these doors – for fun, for counseling, and for celebrations, events for kids, and music by the fire. A little girl with one leg, battling cancer, sat in the living room with a fight in her heart to hang onto life.
Each day is a gift.
I’ve taken good care of your house, and the lives within it. These floors are covered with crayons and cars and nerf guns and shoes, just the way I like it.
Sadness and depression are not welcome here. They are not friends of mine. They are enemies in fact, and I don’t let them inside. I hope you don’t, either.
for having the courage to reach out that day. Thank you
for saying something about your pain.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by the house years later to tell me that my words made a difference.
for letting me know that you made the choice to live, and to be the mother you were created to be.
I cannot change my fathers decision but I can have peace and comfort that you changed yours.
On this Mother’s Day, it is one of the greatest gifts I can remember.