by Dorothy Paugh
To My Son Peter,
On the April morning you departed us some twenty months ago, I was at work fifty miles away. My sister had texted me for your new address to send an Easter card, so I pulled up an online map of your neighborhood to check your zip code. I noticed the small county park with trails across the main road and behind the strip mall, and told myself to tell you about it for walking your new dog, in case you hadn’t found it yet. I did not imagine you were soon to be heading there, gun in backpack.
I went back to my duties for a while, until an overwhelming wave of peace made me stop what I was doing. I wondered where THAT sensation came from! I had only ever felt such profound serenity after deep, quiet meditation or prayer, never in the noisy bustle of my office. I turned back to my daily tasks. Within the hour, my cell phone rang. The policeman said there had been an acc--hesitated and changed it to--incident with my son. He then asked, “Do you know why he would do this?” Clueless, I asked, “Do what?” “Shoot himself,” he replied.
So I believe your spirit came to me to say goodbye, and let me know you were at peace and intact. Only that sense kept me functioning over the next few harrowing days while we waited for the organ transplant teams. I knew that it was no longer you in that hospital bed, breathing mechanically. You had already left for another realm that morning by the stream, under the two trees that leaned together to make an arch.
A few weeks later in May, your fiancée gave me the Mother’s Day gift you had bought for me in advance, five novels of Charles Dickens, my favorite author, including A Christmas Carol. Dickens had such a heart for those who suffer due to cruelty, greed and status-seeking in society. I think he would approve a twist to his classic morality tale.
If blessed with Dickens’ talent, I would pen “The Ghosts of Christmas Not to Come.” First, the Angel of Mercy would lift you up and out of your own tremendous pain into the loving embrace of my departed mother who held a special place in her heart for you growing up. She would introduce you to her husband, my father, who took his life when I was a child. Of all people, he would understand what you were going through and rush in to soothe your self-condemnation with an infusion of love.