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My Greatest Loss Became My Greatest Strength

So where do I begin....

Growing up I had the relationship with my father that most kids only dream of. He was always strict and taught me there wasn't a gray area in life, ONLY right and wrong. But through it all he was my best friend, as I was his. He taught me to strive to be the best I could be and to never except anything less than 110% from myself. My father was a veteran of the US Navy and a volunteer firefighter, but more importantly he was my hero. As with any father/son relationship my teenage years was rough on us, but finally I pulled my head from my rear and realized I didn't know everything. We were able to repair any damage my teenage years had caused and have a strong relationship in his last few years. I was fortunate to have him as mine until I was 21. That's when God decided it was time to call him home.

I still remember the phone call like it just happened. I was at work and his oldest brother called to tell me the life changing news... My dad had been found in a hotel room dead, and was being ruled suicide. Of course initially I thought there was no way, this is some kind of dream and soon I'll wake up and all be right in the world. But that was far from the case, March 9th 2013 was the day my dad let the darkness of depressions and his demons overcome him. The day that would eventually shape me into the man I am today. The next few days were full of anger, resentment, sadness, arguments but mostly emptiness. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my dad, let alone plan his burial. Those were the longest days of my life, but looking back there isn't much I remember at all. My struggle was that this is my new reality, and nothing nor anyone's words were going to change that.

I remember him always saying that when he died no one would probably come to the funeral. Well that was far from the truth, nearly 1000 people walked through that funeral home. What was supposed to be a 2 hour viewing turned into 4.5 hours.. I almost couldn't stand the duration of all those who loved him coming through to express their condolences and kind words. Had he only realized the impact he had left on so many, would that had made a difference? Then we held the burial, one that in a strange way was truly beautiful. From the people having the stand due to all the pews being full, the firetrucks, the 21 gun salute to the bagpiper fading away as he played Amazing Grace. It was perfect, and only fitting for such a great man.

As the weeks passed, emptiness and anger turned into sadness. Which led me into a dark and lonely place. I found myself in the same place my father must have been in. The pain I was experiencing, I felt was too much to deal with. If I could lose him, I could lose everyone. So after months of alcohol abuse and feeling alone I made the decision, it was time for me to join my father. Sure I had a loving wife, beautiful son and the best family and friends supporting me I could ask for. However the darkness and pain I felt wouldn't let me think straight. I truly thought my only option to fix the damage from my fathers decision, was to opt out of the world. I had lost the most important person in my life, and I just simply couldn't continue. So laying in my bed that early Tuesday morning, I decided today is the day. The day that i will get to see my dad again, and the thought of that allowed me a sense of happiness I hadn't felt for months. I sat there and wrote a letter to my wife, making sure she knew she was the girl of my dreams. Ensuring that she knew without a doubt she had done everything right, but I just couldn't do this thing called life without him. I then wrote my son a letter, for when he was old enough to fathom my decision, then one for when he was 18. Explaining that the joy I had felt when I first held him was the greatest moment of my life. That he would be fine without me, maybe even better off. But that my pain was too much and I wasn't strong enough to beat it. Sitting there with tears rolling down my face, I took my dads revolver from the safe, I slid a bullet into the cylinder and gave it a good spin. Placed it to my head and pulled the trigger. Click was all I heard, which if anything made me even angrier. So, I slid another bullet in, yet again a very depressing click. I mean can I not do anything right?? All I want is to die. Then as quickly as that happened, the next thing I remember is my wife waking me up, visibly upset. I'm not sure why or how, but something caused me to go to sleep after my second attempt.

Fast forward to today, I accomplished the dream that I always wanted. The dream my dad sacrificed so much to ensure become true. Suicide and Suicide awareness has a very close place to my heart. Now I will be the first to admit, that prior to my experiences with suicide and the way it affected me. I viewed it as an absolutely selfish act. Who could care so little about their loved ones to take their own life?? But the reality of it is that they are so consumed in darkness they cant think or see far enough ahead to realize the consequences of their action. But lets think for a moment is suicide really even selfish? I mean human nature is to fight till our last breathe to survive. So if anything, in its our wired way its brave. But more than anything its sad. Sad that they believe their death is more beneficial then theor life. For someone to stare death in the face and accept it, it just goes against everything we are taught. I remember being told my father was burning in hell due to his choice, first off who in their right damn mind would tell a grieving son such things. Naturally I entertained that possibility, but can someone please tell me where in the Bible it says suicide is an unforgivable sin? Is it any different than theft or infidelity? If you want to get down to the reality of it Suicide is defined as "Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death" so did Jesus Christ not do the same thing when he sacrificed himself for our sins?? I know for a fact my father was a saved man, who after his last breathe was rejoicing among the angels. Today I wouldn't ask for him to be mine again for anything. He is released from the darkness and free of our worldly pains and shortcomings. I hope that through my testimony someone in need will realize that no one is immune to depression or suicidal ideation. This doesn't make you any less desirable or any less of a human being. But my plea to you is to not let your pride or fear of being looked down upon get in the way of you receiving the help you need. I am here for anyone who ever needs an ear to listen, or help you get the proper help you need. Remember you only have one life to live, and no amount of darkness is worth leaving your loved ones behind. Regardless to what you may feel in the moment, someone loves you and needs you here with them. Always remember that no matter how big our problems are, they aren't too large for our God. He will never leave you nor forsaken you. God Bless each of you.

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