My mother died three years after Paul. She was 94 years old, and she was ready. In fact, she'd been wishing to die, threatening to die for the 27 years she lived after my father died. There was no comparison in how I felt after she died to how I felt and still feel about Paul's death. This next poem says it all. It was published in the "Survivors After Suicide" newsletter, a program of the Los Angeles-based Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. One of the goals of Didi Hirsch is to erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide. Plus they started one of the nation's first suicide prevention hot lines. If only we had known about it before Paul died.
Paul is a bully.
Always waiting to take over my poems.
I’m writing about my mother
who starved herself last year,
hanging on for weeks in a morphine-induced coma,
using up every bit of energy I had
until she finally died.
And here he comes pushing her aside
to get to the front of the line.
He brags so the whole playground can hear.
"My suicide is bigger,
I used a box cutter; she just stopped eating.”
And he's right.
Compared to his death
hers was a bump in the road.
He was my beautiful sick boy,
she, a not-so-nice shriveled old woman
who had wished for death for years.
She'd call me a bad daughter for saying this
but I don't miss her at all.