Seventeen years ago

Tomorrow it will be seventeen years since our son Paul died by suicide. Tomorrow my husband and I will visit his grave, leave a small stone, as we do every year on his birthday and death day. Today like all days is a time to reflect. I wrote the following poem a few years after he died. It is included in my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Yes, we have survived all these years, but the grief has never gone away. I’ll Always Remember I’ll always remember he slept without closing his eyes all the way I’ll always remember he walked fast and way ahead of us I’ll always remember he had long, thick, black eyelashes surrounding clear blue eyes I’ll always remember he played the piano, legs crossed at the knees, leaning way down over the keyboard I’ll always remember he liked to wear second-hand clothes and didn’t mind if they were ripped I’ll always remember the way he stood at the pantry … [Read more...]

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A progress report

In John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” he sings: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_j-tpmdPlI My mother always said something similar: “Man plans, and God laughs.” Well, life was sure happening to me last week. I worked diligently on my book, as I said I would do in my previous blog post, for the first three days, and I actually made some great progress. Then boom! It all fell apart. My husband, Bob, woke up early last Thursday morning with shortness of breath. I took him to urgent care and he got an EKG. With those results the doctor there said take him to emergency at our local hospital. And we were off and running. Two and a half days later and tests to rule out a heart attack, pneumonia, blood clots in his lungs, and congestive heart failure, he was feeling better. So they sent him home. Less than 24 hours later, he was short of breath again – even worse. This time we called his own doctor (who ha … [Read more...]

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Father’s Day sadness

On this day I think a bit about my dad, but just a bit. He’s been dead since 1975 - over thirty-seven years. He’s vague in a lot of ways. Yet I still remember vividly his last year and half and his courageous battle against cancer. I think he waged the battle to please my mother. His own heart wasn’t in it. Finally, and I was so proud of him for this, he said he was through. He just wanted more and more morphine to aid him in dying. That was the most courageous part. Standing up to her and dying on his own terms. Dad and Paul, 1973 What makes me more sad today is what Bob has been through. He was the father of three sons and now only one is living. His first son, Eric, was born with Down syndrome during his first marriage. He died in 2004 accidentally, choking on a peanut butter sandwich. Bob and Eric Our older son Paul was born perfectly healthy and was fine and brilliant until his first manic break at age twenty-one. He was then diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder. At age twent … [Read more...]

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Writing down the memories

It was almost an obsession of mine to get my Paul memories written down. I even wrote poems and journal entries about how I went about it. And fortunately I did write them down because a lot of that material ended up in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. Memory List I’m making a memory list. I don’t want to forget my son Paul, So I’m writing down all the things I can think of that were unique to him. I keep grabbing, scratching my bony claws at the surface of my brain to remember, to rediscover, to reconnect with how he looked, what he said, what he did, how he did it. I am continually searching for little mannerisms that were so Paul. I keep adding to it I keep going back to it I keep rereading it I keep editing it, so I don’t duplicate what’s already on it. But, hey, I know a little list of things he did or said isn’t going to bring him back to me. That’s the truth. You should have seen him. He walked so fast like the rest of the New Yorkers. I ha … [Read more...]

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