On the eve of release day for Transfer Of Pain, my book, your book, our book, we should be celebrating – it should be a joyous occasion. Writing a book is a big deal, and you always made me feel special on release day’s past. You were my biggest fan; I’d like to believe you still are. Tomorrow, on release day, I will be celebrating you, and I will be celebrating the lessons you’ve taught me.
I will hold on to what you taught me by the way you lived your life. Those lessons are a huge part of what has helped me to get through the past seven months, sixteen days, and twenty-one hours. One of the most important lessons you taught me was how to be resilient – how to go on when life threw a curveball. Losing you was the biggest curveball ever, but I’m still standing. I’m moving forward, reluctantly some days, and ungracefully, but still, I rise and do my best.
You never took life too seriously, and you always made time for us. You could make the most mundane things fun. I can recall countless adventures filled with belly laughs brought on by your silliness. You told me time and time again to slow down and enjoy the little things. I now know that those ‘little things’ were the big things. I try to remember that daily, even on the toughest days. I watch the sunset and smell the flowers. I practice listening to your grandkids when they talk; listening fully and being present in our conversations. I dance and sing loud and off-key to make Bella laugh. Sometimes I hear a belly laugh – it always makes me think of you.
Although I hold on to the things you taught me during your life, I have to admit something: your death has taught me many lessons too. Your death and how you died taught me that each day is a gift. Every moment I have with the people I love is a precious commodity with no guarantee of a ‘next time.’ I’ve quit putting things off because the opportunity might not present itself again. Death is final, and once it happens, there are no do-overs. Instead of dwelling on the many regrets I have of things we never did together, I’m trying to focus on not missing the opportunities in front of me today.
Your death taught me that kindness matters. It matters more than we realize. I often think about your last night and wonder if one smile or a kind word to you from some random person along your path could have altered the outcome of August 13, 2016. I consider what’s hidden behind the faces I encounter each day. What struggles someone might be facing – the ones they mask with half-smiles. I practice kindness more frequently now, even when I don’t feel like it, I do it anyway.
Since your death, I pay more attention to the people in my life. I listen closely to their words, or lack thereof, and I keep an eye out for signs of trouble. I ask questions and offer my ear. I look for the brokenness that most of us are so skilled at disguising. I say ‘I love you’ more often. I love harder and speak softer.
My inner circle has changed, but your death taught me that allowing others into this raw and painful space is what will help me heal. Allowing others to love me, and not being afraid to share and show my brokenness with them is something that’s been difficult for me to do. You left me no choice; I couldn’t have survived your death on my own.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since your death is that it’s okay to walk away from toxic relationships. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to let go of people who breathe negativity into my space. I’ve learned that I don’t have to make others happy if it costs me my inner peace for that is too hefty a price to pay. I know now that I can use that rule with all people – family and friends. I’ve learned that I’m worthy of protection and setting boundaries is an important part of protecting myself. The importance of self-preservation is the biggest lesson you taught me when you died by suicide.
I wish I’d learned these lessons while you were still here. I would have shared them with you.
This book is one I wish I never had to write. I wish we were together celebrating some other book release, but I can’t change what is. Tomorrow I will celebrate you and hope that your story, our story, will save someone else. I know that’s your hope too. I will look for you in the sky and feel your presence in the breeze. I will watch for you along my path, and if there is someone who needs a smile or a kind word, please arrange for us to share an encounter.
You matter, Pops, and I love you always.
#thisonesforyouPops #youshouldbehere #stopsuicide #youmatter #TransferOfPain
© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out, someone is always listening. You are not alone. You matter – you and all of your broken pieces.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.