I’ve had this post in the draft box for a few days. I keep pulling it out, tweaking it, saving it, changing it, tweaking it, saving it … It gives me a bit of a head ache. And be warned, it is slightly lengthy, as I unfold. And the crux of it is about suicide.
So, as a family, we’ve had a couple of game changing events happen in the last week. By game changing I mean, things that have made us all re-assess how we do things, how we respond to things, what we need to do next to shape our family, constructively.
And by family, I don’t just mean my immediates. I mean my wider family too.
By the last guess-ta-mation, I have approximately 30 odd 1st cousins, from my fathers side of the family. Nieces and nephews I haven’t done a running tally of lately, but the numbers are similar to cousins.
Aunts and Uncles are slightly diminished, due to ages.
I wasn’t brought up with this side of the family. When my Mama left my father for being a violent asshole, he also abdicated himself from all fatherly duties and any role model type duties. When I met him at 7 years of age, I didn’t know what he was like. By the time I was 9 or 10 I had a pretty good clue.
He was full of shit and piss and empty promises.
I think I was about 10ish when he disappeared again, not to resurface for another 10ish years. When he did, he took me to meet my ‘other family’. By this stage I had my eldest daughter. What he failed to mention until we were nearly there, was he had come back for a Tangihanga (funeral). It was for a cousin I had never met. He was young, he was a gang member and he was one of two boys my aunty had.
The other family were quite obviously, grieving. Not one of them knew me, or really understood who I was, except the older uncles and aunties and my Nan. And I didn’t know or remember later on, who half of them were. There were miles of them .. and they weren’t all family … some of them were the cousins gang family. It was overwhelming to say the least.
Next day, my father announces he’s got a plane to catch in a few hours and he’s off … oh, and by the way, he lives in Australia now. He left me and my girl with a family I didn’t know and buggared off … again. I didn’t see him again for another 10 years.
This time he moved back home – I think, because they were broke in Australia. And somehow he thought coming home would be more financially viable. Whatever. But during this time, over a year I think, I got to know him a bit more. Until I went to see him one day and, yep you guessed it, he was gone again. No heads up, nothing. I didn’t see him again for another 10 years.
When he appeared next, it was for a family reunion. Once again, we went off to a family thing not knowing any of them.
But it was at this reunion that I met my Uncle and his family. He is my fathers 2nd youngest sibling. And he blew shit out of my father for not knowing anything about Me or my daughters…that we had lived not more than 2 hours away from them our entire lives, and knew nothing of them. It was a mighty fine day ;)
My Uncle has a wife and 5 children; my cousins. Once he knew who we were and where we were, he rang us every week; visited us whenever he was coming through; picked up the girls and me and took us up to his home for the weekend, so we could meet the rest of the family … slowly. He basically loved us like a father would. Should.
And I loved him for that.
I got to know my cousins because of him. And I got to know, just a little bit more, my wider family.
He up and died on us all about 10-15 years ago (I’m not good with dates anymore). He died about a week after my daughters paternal grandmother died, and we got the news as we were finishing that Tangihanga. We were gutted … absolutely gutted.
He was the glue that held us there … and I was worried what would happen with him gone. With everyone grieving, including me and my girls, we did all drift apart, again. A few other things happened as well, and before we knew it, we hadn’t been back there for nearly 20 years.
With the Facebook phenomenon, we connected with a lot of the cousins … but have yet to get to know their children. My eldest daughter is amazing at keeping in touch and making connections, and she has had more to do with that side of the family than me. But she also doesn’t have the same ‘wounds’ with them … I love her for that.
Anyway … My Uncles family … they grew up … they had children … some of those children have had children.
One of my cousins from this family … is just beautiful … one of those souls that is deep, sincere, concerned, loving, memorable … just beautiful.
Most likely to be liked … Most likely to succeed …
Most likely NOT to commit suicide.
We got the call on Monday, that the cousin hung themselves … that they’d been ‘found’, cut down and resuscitated. However they’d spent a long time without oxygen and the possible permanent damage is still not really known. They remain in hospital.
Today, I found out, that the day before this cousin attempted suicide; another, in another part of the country, also did the same thing. And like the other, they’d been found and cut down and resuscitated. This cousin is a devout gang affiliate.
Most likely to be misunderstood… Most likely to be perceived as staunch.
Most likely NOT to commit suicide.
And this most un-wordable, painful, breath taking-ly overwhelming heaviness, has descended on all of us. All of us.
And what do we do next? How do we respond next?
Usually it would just get left … swished away. But this time … not this time. And we can all feel the urgency of speaking the truth; of healing; of confronting demons; of comforting; of grieving; of changing;
Of changing the game really. It can’t remain the same.
If they had both died, we would’ve all attended the Tangi’s and cried and regretted stuff we hadn’t said or expressed … but they are both still alive … and we can all feel the weight of how hard that is … for us … for them. They survived, but didn’t want to. So what will we do now? Now that we all know they are not alright; and that when we are forced to admit it – none of us are. But it’s been masked for so long, I think they don’t even quite know how to remove that mask. But they know they have too.
We all do.
I get suicide as an option. I really do. For whatever reasons people have, it is their choice to not live anymore. But sometimes I wonder, if there were other choices open to them, would they still choose death?
Well, we, as a family, have the chance to find out.
There has been a hui (meeting) scheduled to talk about all of this. We are all hurt … its finally made us all realise we are family and we care / love each other, no matter our length of relationship; where we are situated.
This time, we are ALL feeling it.