This week is the anniversary of my father’s suicide.
Although it’s been seven years, almost eight, I’ve come to accept a few things about the grief one experiences when someone they love kills themselves. After nearly 8 years, lots of therapy, and more support from my friends than one probably has a right to expect, I am still angry about it. I’m still devastated by the loss. I can still recall that day in startling detail.
Every year, when I realize the anniversary of his suicide is coming up, it’s incredibly difficult for me. I dread it. I dread thinking of it, I hate that the 31st is circled in bright red in my mind. I hate that I cannot avoid thinking about it.
This year, in particular, I’m having a harder time than usual. It’s been really tough for me.
To be completely honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of having this day loom over me. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of trying to not relive that day in my head every year on March 31st. I’m tired of feeling like there’s no real progress that I’ll ever make in my grief here.
I talked to my therapist about this, and I’ve come to a decision about what I want to do.
I’m taking control over what the 31st symbolizes to me. And I’d like you to help me.
My father wasn’t just an avid reader, he consumed books. I think it’s fair to say that he read every single day of his life. My father read tens of thousands of books during his lifetime. His passion and enjoyment from reading was passed on to me, and his grandson. The most emotionally meaningful memorials that were given in my father’s name were simple donations of books to libraries. He would have loved knowing that.
Friday afternoon I ran into a leader of a women’s group in my small community. She was telling me how they had decided that they wanted to try to establish a mobile library to bring books to all of the rural kids in our area during the summer. Ordinarily, there are more activities for kids in the summertime, but I think that budget cuts and the economy have severely limited these opportunities. But, she said, they’d like to bring books to all the kids who are miles from town during the summer to give them something more than television and video games during the summer days. In particular, they are hoping to get enough donations to fund the purchase of chapter books for older kids.
I’d like to make as large a donation to this program as I possibly can on the 31st. I’d like for the 31st to be the day that I do something positive for other people. I’d like it to no longer be about the day my father killed himself and instead be the day that I do something that brings cheer to other people.
And of course I’m being overly ambitious about this. For two reasons, really. One, I could just write a check to the women’s group, but I’d much rather set a goal and work my butt off to accomplish it. I’d rather be thinking about reaching that goal all week than think about my father’s suicide.
I’d like to be able to take them the funds on Saturday to buy 500 books. The average cost for each book will be about $8. There’s just no way I can reach that goal without your help. If you are willing and able to contribute to the purchase of these books, I would be so grateful.
Thank you all for always being there for me. And thank you for helping me change what the 31st means.
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