For a long time, I’ve felt as though there was this very delicate thread holding my extended family together. It wouldn’t take much for this to all come unraveled. I’m sure any therapist worth her salt would talk to me about families of origin and the breakup of mine during childhood… blah, blah, blah…
Regardless of why, I believe families are fragile things. I’ve seen them fall apart, over and over and over. It’s not just my people who can’t get their act together, no one seems to be able to keep this thread from breaking.
All things human hang by a slender thread; and that which seemed to stand strong suddenly falls and sinks in ruins. ~Ovid
Tuesday night, my phone woke me from sleep. I could see on caller ID it was my mom. I answered, “What happened? What’s wrong?” (There is no reason to call me at 1am otherwise) I’ve never heard sobs like what I heard then. Her speech was unintelligible. It took me a few minutes to be able to understand her. My stepsister’s husband is dead. He took his own life. A nurse from the hospital called them to give them the news.
She was so wrecked, she couldn’t even figure out how to make plane reservations for her and my step-dad to go to Connecticut, so they could get to her. I got up and got online and found a 5:30am flight. I booked them.
I called her back to tell her about the flight plans. I could hear my step-dad in the background worrying about sweaters. Did they have enough? Maybe they should get the bigger suitcases. Yes, they would definitely need more sweaters. He was going into the attic for the proper luggage. He told my mom to get some more sweaters. It’s funny what people hyper-focus on during a traumatic time. Bob became convinced everyone would be OK if they just had enough sweaters. I needed their birth dates to finalize the reservations. I accidentally aged my mother 10 years. Even in grief, she had the vanity to be offended by my mistake. And rightly, so.
A few hours later, they got to Meredith, armed with plenty of sweaters. She told them Lewis hung himself in the kitchen while she slept. There was no note. They have no children. Unless something surfaces later, she will be left with only speculation as to why this happened. Even if it does, I doubt there will ever be a complete answer.
This is not a personal loss to me. While I believe Lewis to have been a perfectly nice guy, I didn’t really know him at all. Meredith and I met when she was 24, and I was 18. We’ve spent some time together and have always gotten along, but we’re not close. She is a quirky person and not always easy to love. I understand that. I’m a quirky person who is hard to love. Lewis got her. He just got it. All the things that drove other people crazy, never seemed to bother him. They seemed like a good couple. My heart is broken for her. I can’t imagine loss like that.
I’m worried. I worry this is the blow that breaks the thread of my family. I worry about what’s going to happen to Meredith now. I worry about my mother. Her level of grief was terrifying to me. I worry about Bob. The death of his first wife was devastating to him. I’m not sure how he will deal with the death of a son-in-law. I worry about the ties that bind us all.