After my son’s suicide people told me all the time that they could “choose joy” during their worst suffering and it made me want to set things on fire. I did not want to feel joy or choose joy or have anything to do with such stupid clichés.
And then one day I heard a sound come out of my body that I had not heard in a while. I was watching a show on Netflix and I was laughing. It shocked me to hear my laugh after months and months of laying on the couch wanting to die. I kept watching the show (which I am not telling you the title of because it is not an appropriate Catholic show at all) and laughing.
The day that my son died, Icame face to face with evil. There is nothing more destructive to the Image of God that we are created in than seeing your son dead by his own hand. The feeling of defeat and of evil winning was very strong when I looked at my son’s lifeless body on the garage floor. I felt like God had let me down. In the months and years since his suicide I have come to understand that God was just as heartbroken as I was in that moment. But at the time I was angry with God.
After my son’s suicide people told me all the time that they could “choose joy” during their worst suffering and it made me want to set things on fire.
When I heard myself laughing again as I watched Netflix, I realized that in that laugh, I was alive. I had survived. Then I could be more present in more moments of joy like when my granddaughter thinks the dog did something super funny and giggles and giggles. Or when my oldest grandchild learned how to read and was so proud. Or the moments in my backyard where my husband is showing that same grandbaby how to use her daddy’s BB gun. Those moments are priceless, and not only do they remind me that I am alive, and I survived but they remind me that evil did not win.
The Christian life is to resist–actively–the devil and all his temptations. The greatest of those temptations is the temptation to despair and to lose hope. I have found that the best way to resist them is with joy. Not making up joy, but to be truly present with my loved ones, taking in the moments of joy as they come. To take the time to be thankful for these humans and their laughs.
When I heard myself laughing again as I watched Netflix, I realized that in that laugh, I was alive.
I have even begun to be able to see past my son’s suicide and see how thankful I am to have been his mother and to have had twenty-two years with him. I am thankful for my faith and for the Truth of knowing God and that I can pray to see Anthony again in the next life. It is those moments of thankfulness where I resist evil.
None of it takes away the grief or the loss. None of it brings my son back. None of it takes me back to before he died. None of it erases the heartbreak. But what it does is it gives me a way forward. It gives me focus on where I am going. It orientates me to something beyond myself and the here and now. It puts me on the path to God.
Leticia Ochoa Adams writes from Texas, on life, death, grief, suicide, faith, motherhood, doubts and whatever (else) happens to be on her mind.
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