A memory recently surfaced on Facebook reminding me that two years ago, I got a tattoo to signify surviving what is now referred to, in my mind, as “the really bad day.”
“Today was a really bad day. My depression is manifesting in uncontrollable anger and rage. I am always preaching about minding your mental health and self-care, but it’s so easy to not realize where you are until you’re bawling in your car deciding whether you want to turn the car off before you close the garage door. It is dark, and it is black, and it is empty. I am raw and I am real, and I will never not share my story. My depression might lie to me, but I will never lie to you about it.
A semicolon in a sentence represents where a sentence could end with a period, but doesn’t. It continues. The semicolon on my arm represents where my story and my life could end, but it hasn’t.
They are my sun, my moon, and all of my stars. On even the worst days, when I feel as though I am a burden to them and that they would be better off without me, I will look down and I can remember they are my sun, my moon, and all of my stars — and I am theirs. And my life will continue, because of them.”
This memory had me reflecting on all that I would have missed if I hadn’t made it through that day. The joy I wouldn’t have experienced, the healing I wouldn’t have found, the support I would not have been able to provide others. The memories my family would have with a gaping hole in them that was meant for me.
If I had died that day, I would have missed…
My five-year anniversary to the man of my dreams who would have spent that day grieving instead of kissing me.
I would have missed my favorite trip with my family to Cosby, TN where we have gone for 30 years, but they probably wouldn’t go without me.
I would have missed my baby’s first plane ride and meeting the “love of her life.” I would have missed knowing her first best friends. I would not have been there on the first day of school — not kindergarten or first grade or any other.
If I hadn’t gotten out of the car before the garage door closed, I would have missed making good old-fashioned Halloween costumes, decorating the Christmas tree, and gingerbread houses.
If I had taken my life that day, would there be memories of my baby in my dress going to The Nutcracker? Would my family be smiling in pictures at the holidays or would they have gotten together at all?
If I hadn’t made it through that day, I would have missed snow days, first bike rides, and turning five.
Would sick days and earaches be worse without mommy there to hold you?
What all would be different, what joy would the world have lost, if I hadn’t made it through that day? If I had killed myself that day, I would have never got to hear her play the piano or sing me her songs. I would have missed dance parties in the kitchen, pumpkin picking, and parasailing.
I would have missed date nights, girls nights, and all the in-betweens. I would have missed the joy that I deserved if I hadn’t chosen tomorrow.
If I had died that day, I would never know the love of my best friends’ babies. I wouldn’t experience the joy of a new life or get choked up with love seeing the tears on the face of my best friend holding her first child. I would have never heard “hey hayee” or held her baby sister in my arms.
They wouldn’t have these family pictures. Would she remember how much I loved her? Could her daddy convey how much he loved me? There would be no beach trips or seeing her swim. I would never hang this ornament on the Christmas tree or hold her hand again. I would have missed so much, I would have missed all of this.
If tomorrow hadn’t come, there would be no porch picnics, kayaking, or spa days.
If I had died that day, that would be the end. The memories would stop on August 23, 2019. There would never again be laying on the couch with the dog and the baby, golf dates, or “framily” get-togethers. There would be hope lost in not holding on any longer and other mothers who struggle would never hear me say, tomorrow is worth it, and so are you.
If I had died that day, I wouldn’t be here to give you hope for a better tomorrow. There wouldn’t be a chance to say that the healing will come. The depression might stay, you could definitely feel very low again, but there is joy ahead. If you don’t make it through today, it will never come.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is help. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Tennessee also offers a number of resources for Mental Health & Substance Abuse Help.