Monthly Archives: March 2011

Pollyanna and the Right to Grieve

Greetings, neglected blog readers. Anna-Liza here.

You may have noticed I haven’t been around much. It all started as the usual crazy-busy life-stuff getting in the way of blogging time, and I knew I’d get back to it as soon as things settled down, maybe after the holidays … but then something happened.

The son of my friend killed himself.

I’ve known Dana for 13 years or more, and Cameron since he was three. I consider her an “inner circle” friend, someone I may not see for a year or more, but is still loved, is still close, and who matters very much to me. The same goes for her kids. I hadn’t seen Cameron in a bit over a year, when he was suddenly tall and deep-voiced and all teenagery. I’d seen Dana just a few weeks before it happened, when she told me she was worried about him.

I hoped it was just teenage angst and would get better soon, then I didn’t really think about it. Until we heard.

Dana and Cameron’s story isn’t really what I’m writing about here, though. I can be there for Dana and her family, offer my help, be ears to listen and arms to hold. I can’t tell their story. What I need to tell, just now,  is mine.

I mentioned before that Cameron was three when I met his mom. Even though I didn’t know him well, I’d known him for most of his life. He was there, playing with my kids, grinning his freqently gap-toothed grin. He was one of those kids who just makes you smile.

I have been grieving since we heard the news, and I have spent a fair amount of time pretending not to grieve, or at least trying not to inflict my grief on those around me. I realized recently that I don’t feel I have the right to grieve.

He wasn’t my kid. He wasn’t someone I saw every day. He barely knew me.

Yet, I do grieve for him. He was sweet, funny, understanding, and tried to make a positive difference in this world. There aren’t enough people like him, and now we’ve lost one more. The fact that he was part of Dana’s life reassured me, even at times when I was worried about her, that she’d be okay – she had Cameron. (I know that sounds odd, but if you knew him, you get it).

The thing that hurts me most, I think, is to realize how deep his pain had to be for him to decide on that step. To realize that, for all that he was so ready to reach out to others, to cheer them up, to offer a fresh perspective, he didn’t feel able to reach out for the same kind of help for himself.

It’s not likely that there’s a thing I could have done to change what happened, but I can’t help wondering, what if there was? Even though I know there really wasn’t. I just wasn’t a big enough part of his life – and I don’t know that I could have changed that, either.

There’s the fear that any parent will feel – if a great kid like Cameron could be driven to this, why not my kid? Why not anyone? Why do we, as a society, tell our kids that asking for help is weakness, failure? What the hell is wrong with us?

And there’s the lost opportunity – I liked him, I thought there would be time to get to know him better, and there isn’t.

But mostly, when Dana posts a photo, or a song on the radio makes me think of him, my heart hurts, my throat tightens, and the tears come. There’s no why or how or what, it’s just simple grief. A boy I knew and liked found this world so painful he decided there was only one way out. And he’s gone. That’s reason enough for tears.