I loved life with my mom, but when my mom took her life using a gun, she became eclipsed by her death. Each time I think of her, it’s not about our life together, it’s all about how she died—the details of that morning, picturing it and trying not to picture it, reconciling my incredibly gentle mom with such a violent and lonely death. My mom—soft-spoken and graceful, lover of coffee and pedicures, encouraging and giving—died alone, somehow believing suicide was her only option.
We often don’t know who is suicidal until it is too late. What if my mom didn’t have access to an unlocked firearm when she was so vulnerable? What if something so lethal wasn’t readily available when she was so desperate? I will never know what could have been different.
I wish she could have seen other paths for moving forward through depression and addiction, but mostly I wish that she could have seen herself the way our family saw her. I’m hoping for a time when I can remember her the way I always saw her in life, without those memories overshadowed by gun violence and the what ifs.