Split Second

What does it feel like to lose a loved one to suicide?  It feels like your entire world has just been ripped apart by a tsunami.  It crashes through without warning and sweeps away everything that you once knew, it rearranges the very foundation under your feet, it takes people with it, it tears apart homes and it leaves you with far more questions than answers.  You find yourself grasping at anything within reach, something solid enough to hang on to and pray your own weight doesn’t become too much of a burden.  When the tide recedes as if nothing happened, you are left standing, or laying right where it left you.  You don’t understand how the birds can possibly be singing again, how the sun can dare to shine or how life can even begin to return to any sort of normalcy.  But it does.  Though you are certain the world stopped spinning on its axis in that split second everything changed, it continues to turn even as you are left looking for pieces and fragments of anything it may have left behind.  It changes everything.

Many people that I know are walking through the loss of a loved one to suicide right now and my heart aches for them.  Sometimes there just aren’t words for moments like that nor are they necessary.  Do not be afraid to reach out to those left behind after a loss, they don’t need or expect you to have all of the answers either.  Just let them know you are there, to sit with them in silence, to help them sort through the debris, to fix them a meal and remind them to eat, to embrace them when they cry and/or when they get angry, throw rocks with them.  I have a dear friend who lost his partner a few years ago and the thing that stood out to him the most from that night was the officer who embraced him and helped him through all of the additional stress that followed.  We all need people like that.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

www.afsp.org

 

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Journey to the White House

If you would have told me twelve to thirteen years ago that I would one day be sitting in the White House talking openly to a room full of people about my lived experience, while being live streamed to an even greater audience across the globe, I would have suggested that you get a PET scan as soon as possible.

This truly was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  Thank you American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for trusting me with this incredible opportunity and thank you to all of the courageous souls who continue to speak up despite the stigmas that still surround mental health and suicide.  It is time we start treating our mental health just as importantly as we do our physical health.

If you or someone you know needs help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Under those Lights

Did you think I would remember?

Or hope I would forget?

I remember the rough edges of those fins

As your laugher echoed across the water

It felt so foreign

Like a fish out of water… Literally

Yet I wanted to make you proud

So I tried to wrangle that slippery little perch

Did you think I would remember?

The sound of lug nuts hitting the floor

As tires fell and wrenches clanged

Blue collars and grease still remind me of you

Such strong hands full of love and safety

I sure felt it

Did you think I would remember?

You carrying me across the wet ground

Shielding me from the rain

Because I think of you every time

I fumble with my umbrella in the midst of a storm

Did you think I would remember?

Wiping sleepy eyes and nudging you for answers

As the sun extended its rays through that window

Beckoning the rooster to greet the world

Because I see your face when I hear them now

What I wouldn’t give to embrace you in that moment

Just one more moment

I would have told you how much I adored you

How much this world would need you

Did you think I would remember?

The way you looked at my mother

With the respect and adoration she deserved

Because we are fighting through

A thicket of confusion wishing we could find it again

She misses you too

Did you think I would remember?

The cold breeze from the bleachers

As you cheered on the team you once played for

I think of you every time I drive by that concrete stadium

Wishing I could have witnessed you playing under those lights

I wonder what stories you would share

With your grandson when I catch him holding your class ring

He is so curious about you

Did you think I would remember?

I am so thankful I do

Because now he can remember you too

Landmine

I am not sure what I was expecting

Perhaps another field decorated with landmines

Tiptoeing around waiting for the inevitable explosion

Undeserving of something this beautiful

But my flesh is free of shrapnel and

These lungs are learning how to breathe deeply again

I was certain this stomach had turned to steel

Making it impossible to penetrate

Deaf to the laughter that so desperately

Longed to reach it

Yet I find myself erupting with a childlike

Merriment that runs so deep that

I’m certain the universe can feel it too

I’ve struggled to defeat many demons

Demons that haunt me and hold me down

And leave me screaming through silent tears

Tears that you know too well

Yet here you are

Revealing your own scars

Remnants of a past that tried to break you

They had no idea who you were

They didn’t know that you would rise

That your eyes would shine brighter

That your heart would beat stronger

They didn’t know that we’d come face to face

That through your scars I would find strength too

They didn’t know that our hearts would connect

And find themselves beating side by side

That our bodies would intertwine under the stars

That we would cast our hopes, fears, and dreams into the night

And hold each other tightly

With an embrace every soul should experience

My feet no longer fall lightly

Nor do I worry as much about what lies beneath

I just know that I want to keep walking

Near you, towards you, beside you

Always

 

~ Jessica Caudle

Route 66

I’m not sure what it is about the open road but it has always called out to me.  I’ve been trying to wrap my mind and heart around it over the past several days as Jace and I make our way to the west coast, something I’ve always wanted to do with him.  I imagine the feeling must be similar to that of a bird as it stands on the edge of a depth unknown and finds the courage to leap trusting that its wings will catch the breeze and carry it safely anywhere it wants to go.

I’ve driven this route and countless others across the United States many times before, mostly alone, and always running from something.  But this time is different, this time life has come around full circle.  The past and the present are colliding… and the present is winning.

The last time I made this trip was a little over twelve years ago after finding out I was expecting.  I made the decision to pack what little belongings I had and move back home, from Los Angeles to Broken Bow, OK.  I was in no way prepared to be a mother and certainly wasn’t in the best place emotionally or physically to measure up to the task ahead of me, but I knew that my prayers had been answered.

I had prayed for a reason to live, for a reason to beat addiction, for a ray of hope, for forgiveness, for belonging and for help that I was too ashamed and prideful to ask for.  Nothing at that time made sense to me but I knew one thing with absolute clarity.  God had heard me.

As the familiarity and memories come flooding back with each mile traveled, city passed, state line crossed, ever changing landscape, the endless sky filled with the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and stars that I am certain could be touched if I reached far enough; the past and the present are colliding… and the present is winning.

The present reels me back in with the sweet sound of my son’s laughter, his curious questions, his own awe and wonder at his surroundings and his hilarious and entertaining dance moves in the car.  I am humbled that God trusted me enough to bless me with this little life.

Twelve years later the very reason I chose to leave Los Angeles is the same reason I am returning.  I know he doesn’t understand it yet and maybe he never will.  But, I at least hope he will take away something special from this trip and file it away in his beautiful mind.  I hope he will remember it as his own life comes full circle someday.

I want his heart to be full of curiosity and adventure as he finds his own way in this world, I want him to have the courage to leap and trust that his wings will catch the breeze and carry him safely wherever he wants to go.  But, even more so, I want him to know that he will never be alone.

Embrace this life and all it has to offer… and may the present always win.

Jessica Caudle

07-25-16