Five years after my son’s suicide, I stood at my picture window and smiled at the snowbirds that hovered around the feeder. They spit fluff from the seeds and it floated down, scattering hulls on the ground. A flit of wings and a brown sparrow darted along the grass. After the snowbirds left, I became surprised the sparrow didn’t fly to the food. It continued to eat what fell from the other birds’ beaks. I pitied the feathered creature. It had failed to see there was now room to eat from the bird feeder.
Spiritually, I was like the sparrow.
I determined on that day to turn the corner of a New Normal. Of course, up to that point, I had a lot of help along the way. Friends, family, and even strangers gave me encouragement, and all of them came from the Lord. I especially remembered a fine woman who made sure the Compassionate Friends newsletter circulated in our area. Joshua, my son, had been gone under a year, as we two women sat on the grass at a park. I told her I had not slept more than three hours a night. I confessed to her, “I feel like I am losing my mind.”
That dear lady told me, “This is normal.” My mouth opened and I gawked at her. She explained that for a time, she felt the same way after her son died by suicide. “Soon,” she assured, “these feelings will pass.” She told me the grieving process is hard work and lack of sleep will worsen matters.
Now, as I watched the sparrow, I grew dissatisfied to eat the leftovers of Fear and Dismay. I took a deep breath. My worst challenge would be to stop the flashbacks of my son’s death. Or at least, not feeling the horror. An idea came to me, then. What if I were to practice the scripture of Ephesians 6:11, that we are to put on the spiritual armor of God? Would it truly help me if I prayed about that every day? Would I overcome the flashbacks?
With arms crossed, I also made a decision. Holding onto some things would only serve to hinder God’s plan for my life. At that moment, I even let Joshua go.
Oh, I don’t mean the beautiful memories of Joshua’s laughter and our conversations, or the fun we had baking in the kitchen. And I will never let slip away the joy of knowing him for twenty-five years. I had to release his actual death and the years of torment after.
It’s been one year since God used birds to show me that my soul could fly. Daily, I march on with full armor, and with increasing gratitude; I aim to show the great things God has done.
Jean Ann Williams 2011