I was twenty when my mom died by suicide, and that was an event that shook the very foundation of my life emotionally, financially, logistically and spiritually. I spent an entire decade unable to reconcile her death.
All the things that ultimately proved meaningless to my mom…career, money, success…were in a weird twist of irony, the things I clung to all the more. Almost as if I planned on squeezing something out of them that she hadn’t been able to. I finished college, put myself through business school and created a successful career. It took years for me to understand that wherever I go, I take me with me. Which explains a little why mom’s big “arrival” was not only not enough to make her happy but was actually probably a source of huge disappointment when she discovered that widely-celebrated success actually can’t fix anything important.
I don’t believe my mom’s suicide ultimately was a rejection of life. It was a horribly ineffective cry for more of the life that she felt she was supposed to be living. I imagine her being unable to put her finger quite on it; like an elusive itch she couldn’t scratch. Yet, my mom was an extraordinary woman whose end does not define her.
Last year, I turned 44; older than my mom ever was. So how do I reconcile her death today?
First, I do my life differently today than I did in my 20’s. I live with purpose, and find my value in places other than the outside. I define success differently, and have come to believe in the depths of my gut that happiness truly is an inside job. Secondly, I honor my mom by raising four young women, with care, purpose, heart and humility that I get to be their mentor along their own unique journeys to womanhood.
I don’t believe my mom’s suicide ultimately was a rejection of life. It was a horribly ineffective cry for more of the life that she felt she was supposed to be living."
I competed on "Chopped" in honor of my mom, certainly. But these days, I’m fighting for the mom who wakes up tomorrow in a vortex of despair. I’m here to honor those we have lost, and to stand together, to raise the volume on a national conversation that is currently conducted in whispers. One that says loud and clear: Suicide is preventable, so let’s do that. Let’s prevent suicide.
Just like any worthwhile task, it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. We’ll have to spend money, and we’ll have to venture forth bravely sharing our stories so that others may share theirs without shame. And so that they might also join us.