Because You Can
Many years ago my son hung himself, eighteen years old and dead on the stairs. Six o'clock in the morning, a screaming daughter, I don't think I will ever forget the pain. The emotions, the loss, the horror. A screaming wife and chaos all around, I touched his hand, don't know why really. Probably a parental muscle memory. You take your child's hand when they are scared, you take your child's hand when you want them to be safe, you take your child's hand when there is joy. Apparently the urge kicks in when they are dead.
The hand was warm, warm to the touch. Maybe we had time? An angry exchange, a wife that didn't know what I was doing, I lift him, a screamed command, "take the fucking cord off". An emergency services operator screams in my ear do you know CPR, yes, yes, what the fuck? Daughter holding a phone to my ear, when did that happen? Well do it, do it now, ambulance on the way.
Fuck, fuck, what is it? pump, rescue breaths? what fucking first? Fuck, pump, rescue breath, rescue breath first, then pump. Rattling in his throat, rescue breath, still rattling, pump, intake of breath, rescue breath, rescue breath, rescue breath, stabilisation of breathing. Rasping breath, terrible rasping, throat damage, but you don't really think about it till later. Ambulance men, where did they come from? Is he breathing, how long was he not breathing? How the fuck do I know?
Tell me what happened, the first of many tell me what happeneds. I didn't really realise until later that it was designed to get you to relive it. Relive it again and again until you are pretty numb to it. It is through the constant reliving that you reach acceptance, or at least some sort of acceptance. I am in the hall, I look to the left, they are working on him on the stairs. They intubate him, I can see from their faces that they think he is fucked. One is shining a torch in his eyes, he looks up at the others, and his face is enough to tell me there is little or no response.
I look back at the man with the question, he sees what I have seen and he gently pushes me backwards into the kitchen, away from the horror. He focuses me, and again asks, "What happened?" A blur of faces occur, all with the question, "what happened?" , some recognised, some not.
It didn't really help, but who knows what would? By the end of it, I could explain what happened without bursting into tears. That's improvement right? He was alive, in a coma, but alive, surely the hospital would make it all better? No, no they didn't, when it comes to mental health, they just gloss that shit over. manage the crisis, move them on. It isn't a terrible statement on them, it is a terrible statement on what we know. Put men into space, but we haven't a fucking clue how the mind works. Not a fucking clue.
A day later while walking back to my car in the car park I find myself curled in the fetal position on the ground crying. How the fuck did that happen? I remember walking to the car, kind of gets a bit blurry after that, woman says are you okay? "The voice", been with me since I was a kid, bit like a drill instructer, the voice says "GET UP", "GET THE FUCK UP", the voice has served me well over the years. Saved my ass when I was shot in the back of the head.
So I get up and tell the nice lady that I am okay, giving lie to the fucking state of me. Giving monstrous lie to the predicament I find myself in. But hey, what you want to do, scare the nice lady? So I am okay, medical science is going to make it better! But it fucking doesn't, "he attempted suicide", what's with this fucking attempted? He was fucking dead, you get this right? Dead as dog shit, that's kind of why me and his mother had to save him.
Attempted suicide my fucking ass. I think it was pretty fucking successful, we had to do CPR. But no, it was an attempted suicide, brought on by drug intake. Such fucking bullshit, no intervention because you know, it was a once off. Right, so a guy puts a fucking electrical cord around his neck, hangs himself to death, and it is just an anomaly? Drug induced my bollox, that my friend is a serious sign of mental illness, are you going to do anything about it? Well, he is the wrong type of mad.
The fucking wrong type of mad! I swear, that's what they said, the wrong type of mad. Well you know what, that's just fucking fantastic, let me know when he reaches the right type of mad, until then, we will just try and make sure the carnage isn't devestating. The wrong type of mad, well the wrong type of mad just went on and on, with no end. No life, constantly worried about him, cursing him, crying about him, at the end of your tether while hating him.
Hating who he was, hating what he was doing, hating him for the pain he was causing you. Hating him because of how he made you feel about him, my son, my beautiful son. It didn't really get much better, cops at your door, not that it bothers me. Fuck the neighbours and the horse they rode in on. Actually, fuck the cops and the police car they drove in on. We are Irish, we are Republicans, we are generous, compassionate, we have strict morals based on our community and our relationship with god, but we all have an interesting relationship with the state and the protectors of the peace.
I believe it is called an uneasy truce, we won't have a go, if they don't either. All the while looking them in the eye and thinking I would happily twist your fucking head off your jumped up neck. Not only would i, but I fucking could. So when they wake you up at seven in the morning to search your house, things can become a little tense. A whole new experience, myself and my wife think we have seen it all, but you know what, our son makes liars of us.
He brings new experiences almost every week. The joy! Visits to prison, fantastic day out for the whole family. Metal detectors and being feeled up by a disinterested guy or woman just doing their job. Take your shoes off, leave your dignity at the door and play with the drugs dog. What's even better, you get to have your grandchildren to do the same thing.
So what's the moral of the story? Fucked if I know, I was ranting. But here it is, my son was a beautiful child, full of compassion, generousity and caring. Believe me, I am not some gobshite trying to deny the obvious. He was truly a beautiful child, then something happened to him as he transitioned from childhood to adulthood. It happened so fast that we didn't even get a chance to intervene. Intervene hell! we didn't even get a chance to realise it was happening until he presented us with a fait accompli.
So here is the thing, hold your children close, try to make sure they talk to you about all of their worries, watch them closely and pray that things will work out. Because even when things seem like they will, it doesn't mean it is so. But here is the real lesson, it seems that no matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, you can. You can go on, you can find a way.