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When the heat becomes unbearable and the air is stifling, my mind and body knows what lies ahead.
My middle son, Larkin, has been dead 20 years (August, 3, 2021). Each year I tell myself I will not write about Larkin’s life and death again. I know people must be tired of my story. But, every year someone comes to me and says “thank you.” Possibly a family member, a close friend, a parent, a spouse committed suicide. I wish I possessed the ability to make their grief less…but I do not. All I can do is perhaps give hope to someone who is drowning in grief.
The last time I saw Larkin was on July 4, 2001. When he left that day, I had no idea I would never see his smile again, hear his laugh, feel his arms around me, hear him fuss, throw a baseball, chase his brothers…physical life with Larkin was over.
Larkin was a senior at Ole Miss. He attended Ole Miss on a baseball scholarship tearing up his arm in the winner of that year. He left Ole Miss and completed a year playing baseball at Co-Lin with his brother and some of his dearest friends. He always thought Oxford was God’s country. He returned following graduation from Co-Lin. Larkin was a Chancellor scholar…a person who had tons of friends! He loved young and old.
What happened that changed this young man on the brink of a bright future to end his life? I will never know. I have ideas…but that is all it is…ideas. One thing I do know for him to commit suicide, Larkin must have been in horrendous physical and mental pain. I often think of the pain he must have suffered. Of course, I blame myself because I did not recognize the depth of his despair.
How have I survived 20 years? I didn’t even think I would survive one day, one month, one year! Our God is an awesome God. The strength He gives us is unimaginable. I must confess, I was mad at God. How could He allow this to happen…how could He not open my eyes? I attended many grief seminars following Larkin’s death. I kept searching for something that would lessen the pain. What I found was a Savior who walked beside me, carried me, encouraged me and gave me the best friends in the entire world. I would not have survived if I had not been able to rely on God and cling to my friends.
I honestly thought I was not going to live. My heart and my world was shattered. These friends, and they know who they are, carried me through life many days for many years. In fact, they still carry me. When the world was dark, someone would appear to just sit with me, cry with me, listen to me…they gave me strength.
Being the mother of a child who committed suicide is strange. When I got out in public following Larkin’s death, I found people just stared at me…like I was going to break down on the floor and cry. At the time, I was working at the Post Office. The majority of my postal family was very supportive. But, I well remember my return to work. I was standing at the front (I waited on customers) just staring. (I didn’t know I was staring). My post master walked by me and said “when are you going to get over this?” I think many people don’t understand – you don’t get over this. The “this” stays with you forever.
Time is a healer. If I had to give advice to someone dealing with a tragedy, I would say “be kind to yourself.” Don’t expect so much from yourself. It is ok to grieve…to cry…and to be mad!
I made the decision to go forward. I realized the direction of my future was in my hands. I could sit and cry or get up and cry. I chose to get up. I had two precious sons and a mother with Alzheimer’s who needed me to be strong. I had to push forward.
A smile hides a lot and is a symbol of hope and strength. The emotions of my life are often raw. Sometimes I can’t attend a funeral. I can’t visit a family in sorrow. I can’t offer encouragement. When these times come, I try to be kind to myself and allow the emotions and hurt to surface. I was a person, and still am to an extent, who worried about what others thought…not so much now. Survival is what I seek.
Anyone who has lost a child, always seeks remembrance of that child. I cannot tell you how much it means when someone tells a story or mentions Larkin. Many feel that mentioning his name will upset me. What it does is give me knowledge and hope that he has not been forgotten. Larkin had wonderful friends. They keep his memory alive.
The pain experienced by his brothers never ends. Larkin and Breck were only 12 months apart. They did everything together. Larkin was the pitcher and Breck was his catcher. Dickey took good care of his brothers. He wanted so much for their future. He was my rock during those years.
Grief last as long as love does…forever. But with time, you will be able to smile at memories, laugh at stories, and treasure the time you spent with your loved one.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.” (Robin Williams)
No one knew the torment,
that you were going through;
We only kept on seeing
What we really wanted to.
We saw the outward smile,
but not your inner pain;
We never really dreamt,
That you would never smile again.
Forgive us if we failed to see,
What we could do to aid;
Or if we failed to comprehend,
How much you were afraid.
We pray your mental anguish,
Will now forever cease;
And that your deep anxieties,
Will be replaced by peace.
We know your pain invaded,
Every single thought you had;
It made you cry internally,
And deeply, deeply sad.
But we in turn remember,
The good times, not the bad;
We remember when you smiled at us,
And not when you were sad.
So when we think about your life,
We won’t dwell upon its close;
We’ll remember all the good times,
And forget about life’s blows.
We’ll remember all the happiness,
The joy and not the tears;
The assurance and the confidence,
And not irrational fears.
Our lives have all been better,
Because you have been there;
So now we leave your memory,
In God’s all-loving care.
Thank you for your kindness in allowing me to share about Larkin. I miss him so much.
MageeNews.com is an online news site serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.