John was an avid reader. Our home is small, but we have five substantial bookshelves. Most of the books were Johns’, to be honest. I have my fair share, but his stash multiplied regularly. His guilty pleasure. He couldn’t just sit and stare into space or busy himself gardening or tidying like i do. He needed to read. History books, and historical novels, as well as traveling books, were his faves. Authors included Eric Larson, Bill Bryson, Ken Follett, (oh, i can’t name them all) and of course, the modern adaptations of the classics mixed with zombies. I can see books about hockey, about world wars, about science and discoveries, about injustices of the past and present. He had purchased several books just a few weeks before he left. I’ll get to those one day…
The first book i read after he passed away was actually the last book he read ” the 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson. It wasn’t his usual kind of read, but it was ideal for my re-entry into the “focused ” work of stringing the written words together. It was a rather silly, wonderful and clever book, but it made me sad that John wouldn’t ever be 100.
At some point i thought i could tackle all of his books and read them one by one. Ha.
I’ll pick away, but i know i won’t be able to get through them all. Not for lack of time, but seriously, some of these books are like a university thesis. (“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” isn’t a rainy afternoon/fireplace/ cats book). I did complete “Eiffels’ Tower” by Jill Jonnes. He proposed to me there, so i felt i had to know more about the metal marvel. (I said yes, ha!)
My recent reads have been somewhat more fitted for what i need to learn in my quest for understanding what happened. Books about sad shit. Like many suicide survivors, you want to figure out more about this terrible event – once you’ve picked yourself up from the shock waves that follow. The why. The what ifs. We are searching for answers. We seek the proverbial closure we know we will never really find.
My collection of “sad books” as I call them, is growing.
As absolutely heartbreaking some of the stories in these books are, they remind me that I am not alone. I can make it through this. They’ve told their story. So now I shall. Some of the events people went through losing their loved ones, whether it was how or where they chose to end their lives, who found them and when, make my storm seem placid. I did find my husband, but he seemed to be sleeping. He was warm to the touch. I got to touch his lips as i tried to breathe air into his lungs. But i was too late.
Others did not have an ounce of the false, fleeting serenity i experienced. My shock was a whisper compared to the explosiveness of others. I weep for their loss and admire their strength, although, admire isn’t the right word… respect and acknowledge.
I read these “sad” books in stages. The main reason is that i seldom have the desire to tackle it all in one go. Let me rephrase: I do want to finish them as soon as i can, but these books are exhausting. The subject matter, as you can imagine, is gut wrenching. I am, however, so very glad these books exist. I have five books as of now, with more on order.
If you’ve lost someone to suicide, I highly recommend, when you are ready, to read as much as you can about this specific loss. But if it doesn’t serve you, put the book down and walk away. Take care of you. If you’re not ready to read, talking to someone might be better.
Here are the books on my list so far: “No Time To Say Goodbye” by Carla fine “Touched by suicide” by Carla Fine and Michael F. Myers M.D.,(read this one, my fellow suicide survivors!!) and “Second Firsts” by Christina Rasmussen (not remotely ready to tackle that one yet). and a wee little booklet about grieving elves called simply “Grief Therapy” by Karen Katafiasz (i’m not religious, but the message is lovely). My little surprise was “Good Grief” by Theresa Caputo. She doesn’t have the standard qualifications that many therapists/authors carry on the subject of grief, but i truly believe she has empathy and an understanding that I will never experience about ‘the other side’. I feel she provides comfort and kindness when it is needed most, using her gift. (And i think she’d be a hoot to have lunch with).
I’m not even sure if i believe in the other side, but i do know that scientifically, you cannot destroy energy…. so there. We have to go somewhere, right?
(Oh, I should note that when I read these books in public, i wear sunglasses or have them handy, i do not wear mascara, and i cover the book in brown paper or wrapping paper. Just because things can get sloppy. I don’t need to harsh anyone’s mellow. )
My sanity recovery readings are still my gardening magazines. I look at all of the pretty plants i don’t have room for in my garden. Aaahhhhhh. Peace. It’s amazing that despite what has happened, that i can lose myself in the pages of a book or a magazine. I admit, i got frustrated sometimes at the amount of times John was reading when, in my busybody opinion, he could have been doing something more “productive” …. but i would give anything to have him here, reading, flipping through the pages of a book, hearing the sound of his big fingers turning the paper as i watch his free hand fiddle with his bookmark, reading in bed until i fell asleep. I miss my book worm.