April is the cruelest month,
breeding lilacs out of the dead land,
mixing memory and desire,
stirring dull roots with spring rain. ― T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Yesterday, I felt like I was wandering in the waste land. Though the sun was shining and there was a cool breeze blowing, I couldn’t see it or feel it huddled beneath my sheets, praying for sense out of suicide, light in the darkness, life after death.
I thought of the Warren family. I don’t know Rick or Kay Warren personally. But, like many people, I know of their ministry and the positive impact their words and work has had on so many lives. I can’t say I embrace their theology wholesale, but I greatly respect the depth of their faith and would not question their profound relationship with Christ.
And now, this. The death of a child must be the greatest grief any parent must face. Compounded with this grief is the threat to meaning and purpose, to hope and, yes, even faith, that strikes when a loved one chooses death over life. Rick Warren expressed gratitude yesterday for the overwhelming support of people around the world expressed after Matthew’s death, but no amount of community support can alleviate the lonely journey Rick and Kay and their other children must now walk.
As I laid in the darkness, I thought of my own children and my wife. Memories came flooding back – that night 5 years ago when I swallowed handfuls of psychotropic meds as a desperate measure to end my misery. My family was little more than an afterthought in that moment. I didn’t even compose a proper suicide note – just scribbled off a few perfunctory lines as if writing out a prescription.
Thanks to God’s amazing grace, the drugs that should have killed me didn’t. Instead, they put me in an all-night stupor. I kept stumbling to the bathroom, crashing into walls, unable to straighten up, leaving a mess my wife had to clean up.
Yesterday, I wandered through the waste land with mostly dead memories and only a hint of desire for something better.
Today, the sun came up (as it typically does). It took me until noon to rise. I ate lunch instead of breakfast. I read some encouraging messages. I reflected on God’s Word to “choose life, that you and your offspring might live.” I felt grateful – not glad, exactly – but grateful to be alive.
They say rain is on its way. Spring rain to enliven the dull roots dormant underground, hiding from the harsh winter. Breeding lilacs will appear.
In May, I’ll travel home – to my children, and my wife (if only for the day).
It will be “a day that the Lord hath made”. And we will “rejoice and be glad in it.”