Daddy’s death changed me. The instant helplessness on the day of his suicide catapulted me into an earlier mind-set. I was like a child who had not yet learned a language, full of needs and fighting to find the words. For a long time my world was nothing but childish confusion.
Child-like needs filled me in numerous ways. Keeping in constant touch with my mother was one of them. One day at work when I couldn’t get her on the phone, I had a panic attack. I started crying and couldn’t stop. “My mind’s running away with me,” I breathlessly told my boss. No other explanation fell from my lips. All I could see was her lying helpless or dead in her house. She was actually at the grocery store.
Another childish defense was that I looked to the supernatural to justify harsh realities. I believed a demon possessed my parents’ house. Daddy had become obsessed over their septic tank not working. It was the last thing I heard him talk about. I felt an evil spirit had taken up residence there—in that dirty tank. Surely a demon was what killed him. At that time there was no other way for me to confront the evil of depression and suicide.
Visiting my mother afterwards was horrifying. “I hate this,” I’d cry to my husband. He always went with me that first year, or else I wouldn’t go. I couldn’t name what “this” was, but my husband didn’t ask. Probably nothing I said that first year made much sense to him.
But last night a screech owl flew close to my bedroom window. Its sound, screeched-out like an ancient prayer, gently awoke the adult in me. Wrapping my arms around my chest, I came to understand. Not only did I sorrow over the loss of my father, my very own child-like emotions needed comfort. I curled into a fetus position in the bed and hummed myself to sleep.
Grief is confusion of the heart. Try to understand and comfort your child-like nature.