This is going to be a long one tonight. On September 15, 2016 my (recent) ex husband and my kids daddy took his own life. I want to start by sharing what I wrote for Tyrel’s eulogy, then I will attempt to put some of the painfully raw emotions that seem to be making their new home on my sleeve into words…
“I will begin with a letter I wrote for Tyrel:
I have loved you for a lifetime. I remember the early years when we were young and silly and we had every dream ahead of us to experience. You were my choice and I was yours. You chose me to have your family with, and I will forever be thankful for that gift. Tyrel, I saw you. Even when you didn’t want to be seen, I saw you. You were my heart, my world. I gave you everything I had to give and we tried. Oh, how we tried. We stood side by side and struggled in and out of years, and we talked over and through every part of your mind and heart. I forced you to give me more, and you did everything you could to satisfy my hunger for you heart. I am for you. I will always be your biggest supporter. You used to say, ‘MaryBeth, I think you know me better than I know myself.’ And because I know you. I really, really know you, I understand why we’re here today. I get you. I see you. I love you. I see how you love me and our babies more than you loved your own life. I see how you freed us from a lifetime of pain and brokenness. I see how you are finally free. My only prayer for you over the last decade has been that you would find your peace. Babe, you finally found it. You, my love, are my hero. You used to tell me I was your guardian angel, and now you are mine. Be near us, watch over us. Thank you for giving me my family. Thank you for trusting me with your most precious gifts in this life. I will always remind them of how extravagant your love for them is. I will find you in our little girl’s eyes and our little boy’s smile. You are forever a part of us and I will always remember your fight, your excitement, your laugh, your side eyes, your goofiness and my favorite freckle on your cheek bone. I miss you. I miss my best friend and my love. I wish you were here with me. But I am with you and I understand you. Rest well, my love, your fight was admirable.
Perception is a drag. It is formed from your experiences and what your understanding of life allows. And it is limited. Let me give you a little perspective about Tyrel, even though many of you may not understand what I will say. I think the older I get, the less I know, but the more I understand. There is a certain stigma about things sometimes, and I want to share my piece about Tyrel. I held his hand through a decade of torment. I was up through the night with him and heard the darkness inside his mind. Unless you saw the darkest side of this struggle, you may never understand this. But I saw it. I held his hand while we exhausted every resource we knew to help him recover. I walked through it with him for 10 years and I almost lost myself in it. To know Tyrel, is to know determination. He fought every waking moment of his life and even in the night. He fought hard. He did not give up. And then he made a choice. He CHOSE to put his children and me and his family above this battle. He chose the most selfless option. I believe God’s love comes to all of us in different ways. And I believe Tyrel needed to be by God’s side to know His love and find his peace. If there was a song to depict Tyrel’s heart, it would be “Home” by Phil Wickham. He adored the Father, but he struggled to know how the Father adored him. There was so much pain in the midst of his joy in life. Mental illness is not weakness. It is not an excuse to be subpar. It cannot be cast out or ignored. It is real. It is more real than most people think. Let Tyrel be a testament of how great and how dark a life plagued by mental illness can be. Do not do let others struggle alone. Do not chastise or ignore what is as real as life and death. Please don’t be so naive. You have experienced Tyrel, in all his glory, now let that experience change your perception about mental illness. I am Tyrel’s advocate and I always will be. He connected with the broken and weary, so why don’t you do the same? Keep his memory and his heart for people alive. Educate yourself, gain knowledge and shed ignorant perceptions.
I do not know how to grieve, let alone grieve the loss of someone I know every crease and curve of their face. He was my world. My life. My future. He gave me my family and the gift of motherhood. Be free to mourn however your heart feels connected to do so. I guarantee you, he never knew how much love would be in this room for him. So cry heart, but never break. He is free. He is at peace. And we will carry him in our hearts forever.”
That was tied with the 4th worst day of my life. The day he died, the day I told my babies about their daddy, the day I saw my first love lifeless and the day I spoke these words. I still have more worst days to come, I’m sure of it.
Over the last few years of my life I have had day after day that keeps one upping the previous “worst day of my life”; in the last month, it seems like a Worst Day Marathon. And, being the overly hopeful person I am, I keep saying to myself, “If you can just get through today, that will be the worst of it…” Well, that’s not exactly how it works when this kind of tragedy strikes.
Today is exactly one month. I can hardly bear it. One month. On the day he died I kept thinking “NO! It can’t be! Every moment from NOW ON will only be memories of Tyrel. NO! There will be no more memory making. No more real time of him. No more. NO this cannot be happening!” It is absolutely devastating to hold on to that reality. Now I feel like I a puppet just moving through life and only when the sadness and grief cloak me like a cold, wet blanket do I remember I’m living in real time…“Oh, yeah…there it is…this is my actual life.”
It isn’t easier with time. If anything, it’s worse. It’s a constant punch in the throat that this is real and I can’t make it better. With every hair brush or pair of scissors or toy or blanket I take from his house to bring to mine, the stake is driven deeper into my heart: he’s never coming back. Where once there was a presence that filled an entire house and a smile that lit up our entire family, now there is only emptiness…void…the great abyss of what is lost.
So yes, send hugs and warm thoughts. Pray if that is what helps you. I need all the support that can be given. I am left with no small task. And I know I will discover the new version of myself after the loss of such an important person in my life and future. But until then, I know what I need. I need my friends, my family, food, my “To Do List” to be knocked out, money, hugs, babysitters, more hours in the day, wine, sleep, my job, snuggles with my babies and a vacation (or 5). So for those who are asking how to support me…there is my list. I don’t try to pretend this is something I will be able to “handle” on my own. Most days I’m not sure I can “handle” it even with all the support I have.
Is this normal? People say it is. I don’t know. Fuck being normal. I just want the ache in my heart to relent for a few seconds so I can catch my breath…because I miss him. And I could have really used his help packing my storage unit with his stuff today. He was the organizing genius, whereas I’m lucky if it gets off the counter and into a box. And we’re going to miss him something fierce on November 5th when our baby girl turns 7 years old. We’ll miss him every day. And I don’t expect time to heal. This isn’t a wound to be healed. It’s an amputation. A major player in our daily life has been cut off. Now we have to go through rehabilitation to relearn how to do life as we knew it. Like, honestly, how do I brush my teeth every morning and not think about the years it took me to convince him to let me buy the Sonicare toothbrush? How do I put on my oversized sweatshirt and pants and not think about the 10 autumns and winters we spent cozied on the couch together? How do I brush my long hair every day and not think about how he loved my hair short? How do I look into my daughter’s eyes and not see him? How do I watch my son run and kick the soccer ball and not think of him kickin’ ass and takin’ names at every dang sport he ever attempted? I don’t know, because this list is literally infinite.
My plan is to remain a puppet until the puppet life and real life become a hybrid life. My new life.