1.   In
yoga class the other day, my teacher had us stretch out our arms and tilt them
like wings. “Fly like an eagle,” she said. 

Instead of feeling
expansive, I was waylaid by tears as I flashed on the great reach of Noah’s arms
straining to touch the walls in our breakfast nook or spanning the width of the
goal in water polo. Willowy, boyish arms that grew muscles overnight, it
seemed, the summer before 9th grade when he got up every day at 5am for
swim practice. Long, lanky arms that paddled out into the surf, carried sailboats, juggled clubs behind his back for hours. Sore arms that
craved shoulder rubs whenever we watched a video. Wild arms that he threw all
over the dance floor at college. Open arms that wrapped friends and cousins in

I was thrilled when my
tall teenage boys stood on either side of me and perched their elbows
companionably on my shoulder; I could have stayed that way for hours. Ben (6’10”)
still perches like that sometimes but there’s no little brother (6’4”) to
balance the other side.

2    2.    I
choke up reading the suicide note of a kamikaze pilot in Ruth Ozeki’s novel, Tale for the Time Being. “I know you
know my heart,” the pilot writes to his mother, “and will not judge me too
Did I know my son’s heart? Maybe
when he was young; not in his last few years and definitely not in his last
moments. Unless his heart hadn’t really changed and I can trust my intuition. This
is my task now: to try to plumb Noah’s heart with every memory and dream, every
hunch and scrap of information. And in doing so, to let go of judgement.
3.     3.  “The
purpose of death is the release of love,” wrote Laurie Anderson in a tribute to
her partner, Lou Reed, 
and in the film, Heart of a Dog. Did she mean a mystical emitting of love by the dead
in the moment of dying? Her words remind me of the outpouring of love by the
living that’s palpable at funerals and memorials, hovering over the crowd. 

Those who take their lives can’t imagine the love that surges up
in their wake. Too often, they kill themselves because they feel worthless and
think they’re a burden to others. I can’t bear to think that Noah may have felt

If those of us left
behind are to take any greater purpose from the suicide of our loved ones, let
it be to replenish our reservoir of love and release it out into the world,
again and again.

3 Moments Before the 4th Anniversary

3 thoughts on “3 Moments Before the 4th Anniversary

  • March 13, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I'm a father of a daughter who ended her life. Your blog is important. For you and for many patents, siblings, and friends of suicide victims. Stigma kills. Your blog is a step in the right direction. Thanks J. Paul BelmontHigh School Suffer of PTSD and crippling depression myself. Long before my daughter left. My stigma doubled after my daughter left and I am convinced that her witnessing the people stigmatizing my depression kept her from seeking help. Frustrated chose life but now living a caveman style life. Besides a 29 year 11 month age difference I was born introverted but my daughter was born an extrovert. When people ceased giving her needed energy by stigmatizing depression, she had little chance to make it here. Sad frustrated but gave up anger against ignorance in 2004. My only chance in 2015 hinged on one thing for me personally, forgive everything and everyone. Forget? No way. For this I choose solitude but my grateful heart for having the greatest daughter a man could ever have wished for stays with me. Te quiero mucho Jaz. Papi

    • April 15, 2017 at 11:20 pm

      To Jaz' Papi,
      I am so sorry for your loss. How especially terribly this must hurt you as someone who lives with depression. I'm touched to know that when you think about your daughter, you do so with gratitude. That is a tribute of love.
      In shared sorrow,

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