Being a kid, I remember saying “I’m depressed” as a snarky remark when people asked why I had an attitude or what I was pouting about. I famously had an attitude up through my early adult years. I was always pretty accurate with expressing my emotions or whatever I was feeling. It often exhausted me how I was able to self-diagnosis my emotional state so I could never use &I don’t know& as an excuse for what I was feeling because in reality, I knew almost every detail of why I was feeling what I was feeling.
But this is not one of those stories.
It was March. I pulled into the parking lot of my job 15mins before I was supposed to be there. I knew I had some butt kissing to do because I left work early on Friday and promised to have the reports in to my boss on Sunday. But now it was Monday morning and I hadn’t done any work my entire weekend out of town. I had every intention to wake up early Sunday morning, scurry down to the hotel lobby, and complete everything I said I would. The morning though, greeted me with a dark cloud like one I hadn’t seen in months. As I rose from bed, I felt angst in my throat and danger on my finger tips. My body felt cold from the stillness yet hot from the roar boiling in my stomach. And then it happened, a phantom kick- swiftly in the left side of my belly. It happened about 3 or 4 times and followed me into the shower. As I stood there, I tried washing away the teenage like attitude settling upon my shoulders. I decided that I would take my mommas advice and look better than I felt.
That day, we were ending out stay in NC and taking the long journey back to Richmond. I wanted to be back in town by 5pm for a going away party but as the day lingered on, it become obvious to me that it wasn’t going to happen. As my friends explored the local malls and stores we stopped at, I grew more impatient and angrier. I called and texted back home erratically trying to keep dabs on the party. I thought it was the source of my frustration. I don’t think even they could pinpoint why I was so aggravated. The annoyance in me was evident as I snapped at my friends and made snarly remarks to anyone who came to close. By the time we got on the road back home, I was nauseated with anger and overcome with emotion. I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing and was getting meaner by the moment. Here I was, had just enjoyed an all expense paid weekend, yet was coming home more unrelaxed that I had left.
On Monday, I was at work less than an hour when it started again. The previous nights rest had only temporarily subsided my feelings but by noon, I was in a state of panic. I sat at my desk longing for death. I wasn’t sure what was causing the feelings but I knew that depression had settled upon me heavier than it ever had and suicide whispered in my ear like a tooth ache. Then, as if prayers I hadn’t asked needed to be answered, another soft yet very familiar kick in my belly. Within moments, I recognized the explosion impending, packed up my desk and left work. For no reason I knew other than that kick, I began to ache for my son. The pain was more than I could bear and I simply needed to see him. I cried to the top of my lungs the entire 45 min drive from my job to the cemetery where he was buried. I wasn’t ready for what I was about to encounter.
As I pulled upon the gravel pathway to the plot where the babies were buried, I rolled out of my car in response to the pain of what I was seeing. The flowers, the teddy bears, the cards, the flags, the toys, the stone plots, and wooden crosses were scattered all over the cemetery. There had been a storm while we were away and it had blown away all of my babies stuff. I can still feel the panic as I ran around the cemetery gathering everything I could and putting it back; my baby and others. Particularly, I was looking for the flag with my sons name on it. It was no where to be found. The panic and fear resumed its place as anger. Because now my baby was buried with no marker and all I could hear in my ears was &Dig him up. Take him home.& I kneeled before the space where my son was laying. It was as if I could see directly through the ground and into the silky white box where he was waiting for me. Just as I was about to reach my hands into the Earth, the loud rumbling of the ground workers truck startled me. I jumped back into my car and speed away. It was obvious to me what I needed to do next. If I couldn’t take Emmanuel home with me, then I’d just go be with him.
It needed to look like an accident. No note or clues, simply the realization that I was where I wanted to be; with my son. It felt like a poem unraveling in my head. At every corner and stop light, I found another way I could end this terror. Run off the bridge, smash into that truck, light everything on fire. I thought about heaven and the people there and the food. I got sad thinking that there was no ice cream in heaven to share with my son so my last meal of choice became a banana toffee ice cream scoop from cold stones and a coke. As I sat there eating, I realized I needed to say something that mattered one more time. I didn’t want to speak to anyone personally so I wrote a poem and shared it on facebook. They say we sometimes cry for help one last time and that’s what I had done. By the time I was finished my cone and coke, I had a lot of likes on Facebook but no one was stopping me so I got in my car and decided…. Fire.
We often think about why God allows bad stuff to happen to good people or even good stuff to happen to bad people. But I don’t think its God’s responsibility to puppet master human action. He interferes in little ways like phantom kicks to force me to acknowledge my emotions or the bad alternator on a landscapers truck. However, its up to us to govern the affairs of our lives. Like recognizing the anniversary of the day you found out you were pregnant or a friend who interprets your cryptic poem on Facebook as a suicide note and calls to add value to your life.
I was let go from my job shortly after that. It was painfully clear that I still needed healing and thankfully was granted the time without distraction to get it. There are quite a few stories I could tell you of my grief and healing process and I will one day and hopefully you’ll read them. Losing my son Emmanuel Langston was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced and is the single most painful moment of my life. But I’m better now thanks to some really unique family and friends. Its not possible to predict the terrors or highlights of your life. It wasn’t until this current monster that I realized it was possible for me to be uncontrolled but now I’m learning to at least speak. Like today, I didn’t leave the bed until I decided to start writing this but by doing so, I know tomorrow, I’ll be okay. I just wanted to share this story of survival.