Times of darkness can give birth to moments of brightness that owe their existence to the very darkness out of which they were born. And the deeper the darkness, the brighter these moments can be.
Losing a loved friend or family member is always traumatic. Losing them tragically adds shock to the trauma. Losing them to suicide is something else again… it leaves you numb and confused, and the darkness is especially dark.
Prior to Jilly’s memorial service I went to her unit to collect some items needed for the service and her burial. It wasn’t an easy task and I was very glad to have Jilly’s pastor, Julie, with me.
As I pulled into the driveway I noticed a young woman with a little boy outside one of the other units. She saw me drive in and looked at me more intently than a stranger usually does. I wondered if this could be the same young woman who found Jilly after the event.
All we knew about the person who found Jilly was that she was a young mum with her pre-school son coming to visit her elderly grandmother in another unit. When she saw Jilly at a distance she quickly ushered her son inside, called the ambulance, and tried unsuccessfully to help Jilly, but it was long past the point anything could be done.
Since that time I have been feeling deeply for this young mum. No doubt she was deeply traumatised by the event, but we had no way of making contact with her, assuming that this was even appropriate.
I then saw the young woman enter the unit where I knew the elderly grandmother lived. Almost certainly it was her.
At this point Julie arrived and we spent time gathering the items we came to collect. As we were about to leave I noticed the young woman was in her car outside the grandmother’s unit also getting ready to leave. A deep sense of compassion welled up along with an urgency to connect with her… this was likely the only opportunity we would have.
Julie and I quickly headed over to her car and flagged her to stop. When she opened her window we introduced ourselves, and sure enough it was the same woman. What followed was very special… Julie and I expressed our sorrow and concern at the trauma she had experienced, and she in turn expressed her care for us having tragically lost a dear friend. We encouraged her to get whatever help and support she needed… if not dealt with, experiences like these can scar a person deeply for life, with long-term destructive consequences.
As the conversation drew to a close I felt moved to say to her, “If you weren’t sitting in the car, and if it was okay, I’d be giving you a big hug right now”. At that she got out of the car and we hugged each other.
It was a profound and precious moment.
The light had broken through and shone brightly in the darkness.
Ian James 21-06-2017
© 2017 Ian James, http://www.onlivingauthentically.com