Friends. On Friday my story, and the story of my family, was altered in a devastating and crushing way. My brother-in-law Randy took his own life. To say that Dale and I are bereft is not enough. To say that we are hurt and confused is inadequate. At this moment in time our anguish knows no limits.
Dale and I were on our way to a Christmas party when Dale’s cell phone rang and he missed the call. It was Mary, Randy’s wife, and Dale handed the phone to me and asked me to call her back since he was driving. She was crying when she answered and said she needed us and then told me what had happened. And then I had to tell my beloved husband, the person I love most in the world, that his brother was dead. Following that I was also the one who told Jessica and Hannah and then Dale’s sister Lisa. To deliver that news, to say those words, and know that when I did I would be inflicting horrible pain on the people I love, broke me into a million pieces.
Since then I have been trying to understand how Randy got to this point. And I just can’t get there. A friend told me Saturday that it’s a gift that suicide is a struggle I don’t know and something I can’t understand. I know she’s right but my heart still wants to comprehend what caused Randy to lose all hope. He had been dealing with anxiety and some serious health issues due to tick borne illnesses for a while but I never once thought that he was depressed or that he might consider his struggles something he couldn’t overcome with time, health care, and the love and support of his wife, family and friends. To face the fact that he was overwhelmed with pain and didn’t share that with those closest to him is unbelievably grim.
Randy was a gifted writer, a talented artist, an accomplished musician, and an avid outdoorsman. He was wise and wonderful and taught me so much about hunting and fishing, birds and nature, simple living and finding joy in the smallest moments. I can hear his laugh and see him grinning when he told a funny story or scared my kids with stories of the woozle that lived in the walls of his house. He was the head of this family in so many ways and I know we’ve only just begun to comprehend the gigantic hole created by his death.
We spent the weekend together as a family, sharing stories and tears, being comforted by the presence of very close friends who brought food and flowers and consoled us as best they could. I talked with Mary yesterday about sharing Randy’s story and she was very clear that people need to know the truth about Randy’s death. We need to talk about mental health issues. We need to know the warning signs and watch for them. Believe me when I tell you that if this could happen in my family then it could happen in any family.
For those of you who have been inquiring, a memorial service will be planned for a later time.
Randy told me once that I was a good writer. It’s a compliment that meant so very much to me at the time and I’m grateful for that memory. I wish he could read these words and know how important, special, and loved he really was.