I had two uncles that were Virginia state troopers. One, the affable donut eating jokester, and the other, uncle Jim, serious, soft-spoken and out to save the community. I was nine in 1974 and we were at our bi-yearly visit to my grandparents’ home. We had a huge dinner the night before and I caught fireflies and played with my cousins after. Being a mama’s girl, I noticed mom had spent over an hour walking the backroads with her brother, who was about to go through another painful divorce. Walking, talking, consoling.
Early the next morning the phone rang, and I heard my mother scream and begin to sob. My godmother told me to go and comfort her while she called my dad back in Texas. My uncle had reported to work, pulled over on the side of a highway he patrolled, and shot himself with his service revolver. His funeral was my first. I’ll never forget a moment of that week, nor the years to come when my parents took in one of his three sons. As I grew up and battled alcoholism, I too thought of suicide. Thirty-plus years in recovery, I am forever grateful my parents never allowed access to firearms due to their painful knowledge of mixing depression, alcohol and guns. #MomentsThatSurvive