I baste the bird, liquid butter with bits of garlic poured out over the bulging breasts of our Thanksgiving turkey. My eyes burn as I go about the task, gritty from lack of sleep after sitting in the psych hold of the local ER all night, but more so still on fire after so many torrents of tears spent. Rivers of tears over driving to the hospital with my child, but leaving without them.
Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on the gifts we have been given. Opting to celebrate the holiday early since I’d spend the actual day at work, I had planned to put the turkey in the oven at 2am. But it turns out that at 2am I was tossing and turning in a rigid recliner pulled alongside my son’s stretcher, wrapping a blanket tighter around my ears to cushion the sound of nurses’ laughter or the cursing screams from the head-banging, combative neighbor next door.
How many times have I cried to the Lord, “am I doing the right thing? Give me wisdom!”
I slide the buttery bird back in its heated cave. We have to eat, right?! The planned dinner, with side dishes still sitting at the ready in the refrigerator, prepped the preceding night, before I knew what lay ahead. What were we actually celebrating, anyway?!
In the lone room of the child and adolescent inpatient wing, sitting in an abnormally large, yet childlike chair, I wept into my wrinkled sweatshirt while they searched my baby in another room for hidden objects that could cause self harm. I cried out to my inner thoughts, “please tell me I’m doing the right thing!”
Today could have started very differently, it occurred then to me. I wasn’t simply thinking about an appetizing spread ready on the dining room table by noon. I was thinking of trying to wake my son to eat, but instead of being greeted by his sleepy grumbles, being confronted with his cold, blue flesh. That is how today could have started.
Instead… instead, the Holy Spirit had prompted him to come to me.
“I have to tell you something,” he said, after sitting criss-cross, apple sauce on the bathroom floor, “but I’m afraid it will make you sad.”
“You can tell me anything!”
Thankfully, he did.
What a week it’s been. Last week brought frightening messages while I worked, of feeling disconnected and unreal, a stranger in another’s body. Walking out in the cold rain just to feel something, anything.
Two nights ago brought self-harm, six horizontal cuts on his left, inner calf, driven to “scratch a nagging itch” that refused to abate until the damage was done.
I’ve always considered us blessed that Noah feels so comfortable coming to us about everything, but even I was surprised by the extremely detailed plan of suicide he had concocted, and shared with me in the bright lights of our bathroom last night. He had planned on waiting until we were all asleep, ensuring we would be none the wiser until finding his body this morning.
I pull the browning bird out at determined intervals, coating its skin with flavorful moisture. What do I have to be thankful for?! As I prepare a meal of Thanksgiving, sans my firstborn present. He is not here, but he will be.
He is not at the table today, but he will be for all the tomorrows. My baby is alive, and after facing the plan to end Thanksgivings forever, and Christmases to boot, he decided to stay. To reach out for a lifeline, to feel better, to cling to that thread of hope that must still be there somewhere. I have a lot to be thankful for.
It didn’t feel that way as I left him at the hospital. He cried, “don’t leave me,” and I probably would not have had the staff not ushered me away. Gosh, y’all, this is hard. It’s hard to spend a year trying to pull your baby out of darkness, and finally realizing you cannot do it alone. It’s hard trying to do your best, to make the right decisions, to follow the advice of the many mental healthcare professionals invested in your child’s future, yet still feeling like a piece of your innermost being is lost in a dark forest of sadness and dismay. Can I leave breadcrumbs to bring him back? Is there a way back to the happy child I remember? Can I feel peace amidst so much turmoil? Maybe that’s the real breadcrumbs in the stuffing we will eat. Peace knowing that we are not alone.
In fact, that is the last thing I whispered to Noah before I had to leave, “you are not alone.”
Amy H says
Sending love and prayers your way. May you see light and hope in the days ahead. No doubt Noah is thankful to have a loving, trusted mother on his team.
I am so so so sorry. A few months ago, my son picked up the phone to call me and say goodbye. He had planned his suicide and was ready to go through with it. Thankfully, my nursing training kicked in before my desperate mothering self. I was able to hold him on the phone and calmly tell him how much we loved and needed him while getting his coach, local police and therapist to him to help. I should mention, I am in the PNW and my son is away at college in the Midwest. I had to trust others closer to him to get him care until we could get there. After the call, I broke down. I was inconsolable and have been many times the past few weeks. We came so close to loosing him. I’m not going to lie, we are still struggling. I pray every day for God to heal him of these thoughts and nothing I do feels like it’s right or enough. I tried my best for 19 years and it still feels like I failed him. He was always so funny and happy, and one of the hardest things is that he doesn’t tell jokes anymore. He stopped laughing. He has lost all hope. I’m so thankful he talks to us and picked up the phone that afternoon but it’s so hard. I want you to know that you, and Noah, and your family are in my prayers. I cried reading your post. I know your pain and how helpless it feels to sit back and let others try and help your son. But I have hope. I believe God is bigger then all things. He can heal all wounds. It may not be on our timeline, it may be hard to wait for, but healing is coming. In those dark moments when we doubt we are enough, we can remember that He is enough. Hold on and keep the faith. Better days are ahead. Love and prayers to all of you.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. Hugs and prayers your way!
Sorry this may sound weird, but it just mi help some bit—do leave the breadcrumbs out, or use some gluten-free alternatives, sensitive ppl can be more negatively influenced by certain corrupted ingredients.
My heart goes out to you. I am also dealing with a close relative who feels lost and sad. My relative just doesn’t want to live anymore. He also had a plan to take his own life. I plead the blood of Jesus for your son. I am agreeing with you for a Devine intervention on your son’s behalf.
Sondra Tidwell says
Oh Brie,so thankful Noah has u and can talk to u about everything. My heart is breaking for Noah, u and family r going thru this..Praying for God to give Noah the strength,wisdom,peace,guidance and for u and Ben to continue loving,protecting and helping him in everyway..U r a great Mommy,bff,wife,u r strong,also praying for her little sisters and big sister..Brie I can’t imagine ur pain..I love u so much and I’m thankful n blessed for u for all the yrs I got to know u..I’m not sure of a Bible verse but just know I am praying for Noah,U,Ben and girls..If there is anything I can do to help please let me know..sending big ole hugs to u my dear sweet friend.I love u always😘❤ Keep ur head up and ur Faith!!
Thank you so much. Love you!
Penny Lozon says
Brie my heart hurts for you and I want to reach out and hold you; hug you till you can feel all the love and strength and pull it in for your future use. My prayer is that Noah will continue to reach out to you whenever he feels the need and that you will always have the strength and the courage to face his demons together. Much love you to and your entire family.