Friday, October 4, 2013

Precious Life/Tragic Death

From Lisa Richards’ suicide loss memoir, Dear Mallory: Letters to a Teenage Girl who Killed Herself (2012), comes a dedication that I wish I could feel, much less write: “For Mallory Erin Richards/In Loving Memory/May her precious life and tragic death help guide us toward creating a wiser and more compassionate world for all.”

Precious life. Tragic death. I can’t hold those two ideas in my mind at the same time. I can’t reconcile them. I get stuck on the “precious” part. Noah's life wasn’t precious to him anymore. He didn’t cherish it; he destroyed and discarded it, and so much along with it. He either didn’t believe his life was precious to others or didn’t care anymore. All our precious love for him, shattered, useless in the face of his despair and determination. He broke the covenant of the living with the life force and the survival instinct. He broke our bond.

Certainly his life was precious to us, his parents. He was precious, a true individual, full of promise. Now instead of a life to cherish, there is merely a memory. How do we cherish a memory? Can we love it like a child? How do we hold Noah in the light when we are still so hurt and angry? 

I am in awe of how Lisa Richards’ pure, passionate love for her daughter flowed free, even in the early months after her child’s suicide. Her letters to Mallory abound with tender, funny memories and quirky descriptions of her child’s life and personality.Lately, I can barely conjure an image of Noah, rarely flash on memories. I have rarely felt his presence and only spoken aloud or written directly to him a few times; instead, I focus on my own pain. The love between us, under such strain the past few years, is still too troubled to bubble up; with his suicide, it feels blocked, contaminated. 

Tragic, I know well and feel acutely. How to find my way to precious?


  1. Oh, Susan, I'm so sorry that right now your memories of your son are clouded by the circumstances of his death. As I'm sure you know, anger is a common response from people whose loved ones have killed themselves. It will pass, you will come to a place where you can once again see your son for the precious boy he was. I wonder how much time had passed between the death of Lisa Richard's daughter and when she wrote her book. I also feel strongly that Noah loved and treasured life. The pain of his depression was too much for him to take. This is so complicated...silly to try and address it in a comment on a blog, but I hope to reassure you somehow. It is good to see you writing. It's been awhile - I was worried! shaye - lalasmom

  2. I felt compelled to add this link to another mom's blog. The third comment or so was written by a woman named Donna about the suicide of her son, who wrote in his journal about how terrible the daily pain of depression made him feel and begging others not to judge him.