I was reading a book titled, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Sadly, Paul died at 36 of cancer. In the book’s epilogue, his wife stated “What happened to Paul WAS tragic, but he was NOT a tragedy.”
This quote really resonated with me because, while T.J.'s death by suicide was beyond tragic, T.J. was not a tragedy. T.J. was amazing, funny, thoughtful, sensitive, kind and passionate. I have been blessed to meet other families who have lost children to suicide and these characteristics are common threads. All of these lives lost are tragic, but not one of these precious children was a tragedy. Their parents all share memories of love and laughter, of intelligent, compassionate, sensitive beings with so much going for them except for being weighed down by the scourge of depression.
None of us will ever really understand why life dealt our kids the hand it did. Depression doesn’t discriminate, but I know there is so much more to the stories of these kids. I’ve learned so much about patience these past years and understand deep in the depths of my soul that all we live through is part of a journey that will lead us to an understanding of love in it’s purest form. I believe T.J. already understood this and that his death brought many others closer to this understanding.
Paul’s wife also eloquently said, “It never occurred to me that you could love someone the same way after he was gone, that I would continue to feel love and gratitude alongside the terrible sorrow.. .” Love never ends and if you are lucky you can pull gratitude into the mix and that is where true healing comes in. A simple shift of perspective—rather than focusing on the tragic loss, focus on the love that is always with you.
I will always wish I could turn back the clock and change the course of T.J.’s life, but since I know I can’t change what happened, I will be grateful for T.J. and the new friends who have come into my life sharing their own losses and walking this journey of grief with me. They have filled my heart with a friendship rooted in something tragic, but not a tragedy—rather a precious gift.
Posted with Love and T.J. Hugs
Dedicated to T.J., Johnny, Paige, Michael, Kurt, Zach, Madison, Stephanie, Alex, Patrick and Chad