by Joni Greever
My son, Preston, had turned 31 the month before he left us. He left because he was tired of waking up every day to the intractable pain of depression that plagued him for years. Not only did he suffer physical pain, but had come to loathe himself. He was, in his mind, a worthless 'piece of crap'; a burden we'd be better off without in our lives; a nothing; a non-entity.
I knew he was depressed. I tried everything I knew of at that time to help him. Our county mental health department told me after I had finally talked him into going to an appointment I would set up that he had to call and make it himself and that they couldn't help him unless he hurt himself or someone else.
I lived in a constant state of anxiety that he would end his life, but after hearing he was going to do it so many times, I was lulled into thinking that maybe he wouldn't follow through. An early morning knock on the door in June of 2007 shattered that illusion. I was suddenly a mom whose greatest fear had been realized.
As the words hit me with such physical force that I doubled over, I kept thinking what am I going to do, meaning how will I live through this? What I call my blessed shock took over almost immediately. I knew the words were true, but somehow they weren't. I existed in a dream-like state for a while, almost observing myself from a distance. Shock insulates us from having to face a reality too terrible to comprehend...for a time.