To look at him, you’d see a young man, not unlike other young men. Kind, funny, hard working, committed. You might notice his phone’s wallpaper, two sets of bright blue eyes, wide, toothy smiles. Notice the gold band on his left hand, see how his right hand might play with the ring; still surprised and delighted by the way it clutched at his skin like she clutched at his heart.
Nothing unusual, remarkable. No tell tale signs. No dark circles, no raw cuticles. No rash outbreaks of drama. Just a guy doing his thing. Keeping busy. Asking questions at church, trying to be involved, to understand the unknowable. But what did he see?
We can only imagine. What we know, now, is that he saw no way out. He stared down into the barrel until he landed at the very bottom. Alone, in the dark, he felt unable to locate any foothold, any crack to which he could cling, and climb and pull himself out. And so he blasted a way out; he ended his life. He was tired.
Having a teenaged daughter is going to teach me things I’m not sure I want to learn. She pushes against every word I say. “The sky is a pretty blue,” I say.
“Actually,” she begins, the first sign of her coming contradiction, the signal to bite my tongue, “it’s more cerulean.”
Deep breaths. We drove to church surrounded by this tension. She kept pushing one cerulean step too far, and, because I’m not lily-white innocent, I pushed back. Always fun to head to church saturated in teen angst and the attendant parenting guilt/resentment/anxiety.
Before I had greeted one person at church, the tears began to fall. They coursed down my face through the first half. I thought of the man who took his life and my relatively small struggle with my kid. I thought of all the things that made this week so much harder than it needed to be. I was tired.
My friend told me she sat outside and made herself find the smallest things for which to be thankful. But she said the tidal force of the hurt just seemed continually to overwhelm the tiny prayers. She said, “I’m just so tired.”
I picked up the embroidery hoop, threaded a sliver of cornflower blue, not cerulean, and began the process. I am making a little gift for my newest niece, who is still cooking. Pushing the needle up through the fabric, winding the thread, pulling it taut, again and again and again. I filled the blank yellow cotton with tiny cornflower knots. Each knot I pulled tight unloosened another knot in my heart. I was soothed by the mindless repetition. Calmed by the process of finishing a thing and well. I’m still tired, but the hollowness I carried out of church has been replaced, or filled. With deep breaths, wide spaces, a quiet, intentional day on the sofa. By the small praise of a tiny knot.