News from home

This hurts.

I'd intended for my commentary today to be about all the fun we had this weekend, but considering I just got back from the bathroom with red eyes and a sniffly nose, I think you can guess that it's the furthest thing from my mind right now.

I happened to think to check my home email account a few minutes ago, and got kicked in the pants by what I found. Mom emailed me at about one this morning to let me know about what happened this weekend. My aunt Mildred, the one who is battling bipolar disorder, shot her son (my cousin Clint) in the hand this weekend during an argument.

She swears it's an accident.

All I know is that I feel like someone kicked me in the stomach.

I just don't know what to make of this. I just don't. We've dealt with the problems of dealing with her problems for as long as I can remember, and I guess in my mind I've always hoped that it would never come to this—to violence. But evidently it has.

I ask myself why things like this happen and I realize that I just don't know.

I wrote to Andy a few minutes ago:

"We've already lost one member of this family to mental illness, and the sheer needlessness of Keith's death was what hurt us the most. The prospect of something like that happening again is excruciatingly painful to me. I think what hurts me so badly is because we know where this road goes, and I think any one of us would do just about anything to keep history from repeating itself."

I wonder sometimes if my family will ever go past the shadow of Keith's suicide. My mother was (and is) a second-grade teacher. On that day I was a sixth-grader, carrying my books with a quizzical look after being told to go to my mother's classroom immediately. I walked in the door—the walls yellow with the grime of children's hands not unlike my own—and saw my mother for an instant before being ushered out of the room.

Heartbreak is the sound of your mother bent double over her teacher's desk, sobbing in gasps and gulps, with your father's arms wrapped around her waist, trying to hold on to something that can't be held.

We went through this once. I don't know that I can handle this happening again—even through the numbness and dimness of years I remember what it was like to take pictures down off the wall, of the person that can neither be named nor forgotten. I'm a grown woman now, with a life and responsibilities of my own, and I no longer have the vagueness of understanding that was my blessing and my saving grace the first time this happened.

I will get up out of my cubicle now and go stand somewhere else for a while—look around outside at a world in which I'm a minor and quiet player and ask a world that isn't listening to take pity on us and not do this to us again.

I promise that soon I'll talk about the fun stuff we had this weekend and how sleep-deprived I currently am, but right now I'm just not able to.