©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Yesterday a friend and I drove to the coast to commune with the Pacific Ocean. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and because it’s so early in the season and a Monday to boot, we virtually had the place to ourselves. It was in the low 80s, not a cloud in the sky, a perfect 10. We were served a simple but delicious lunch by a pretty young Latino mom-to-be who pampered us to the hilt.
Somewhere in all that beauty, I chanced to recall a friend from college that I hadn’t thought of in years. She was a sweet, loving girl, and we roomed together in the German House. We were serious language majors and spoke nothing but German in the house and then had supper at the French table. We went Christmas caroling in both languages, and, in fact, Carol was her name. She left school at the end of our junior year to marry her love, the youth minister of her church at home. I managed to see her twice more over the years.
Once I and a busload of other 60s activists played hooky from Columbia University for a week and went to St. Louis to form a national social work students’ organization. We were crusading for such radical causes as being given Spanish courses so we could better serve our clients. Carol lived there in St. Louis and was expecting her second child. I remember putting my hand on her belly, feeling the child kicking. She was having a pre-partum depression, tired and stressed. While we were in school, it was a painful secret that her mom was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, getting shock treatments for terrible, black depressions.
I saw her once more, ten years later. I was giving a workshop in Sacramento, California, and she and her two teenage boys lived there now, minus the minister. I stayed overnight, and we caught up on our lives. She was still so very sweet, the soul of goodness. (I should say that this was a true sweetness, not the twisted version you often find in the goodie goodies who are festering with rage and the need to control behind a facade. I would have recognized that sort, even then.)
Another ten years passed, and I heard from a fellow classmate that Carol had committed suicide, a casualty of the same chemical imbalance that caused her mother’s terrible descents into the black hole of depression. I was saddened at the senseless waste of a beautiful soul.
That was some 22 years ago, and why she’s been on my mind since yesterday, I do not know. Possibly it was an anniversary of her dealth. I am a closet medium, though for my own good, I don’t do that work professionally. And years ago, I had some contact with suicides and empathically experienced that they were stuck in the same bleak place as when they chose to cross over…until someone intervened to get them out. And, no, sorry, I’m not that someone, and right now I don’t know anyone on this side who has that ability.
All that I know how to do, I did for Carol in the middle of the night tonight, praying to God and to Archangel Rafael to release her from that place so she can begin her healing. And despite all that I’ve heard and read about how suicides will be punished with eternal damnation, I fully believe that she will be released into the loving arms of the angels.
My God is not a God of judgment and punishment, but a force of unconditional love and forgiveness. My God created fields of spring flowers like the ones below. My God created Carol full of that same bountiful divine love that she embodied for us back in college. Her body chemistry predisposed her to the same terrible depressions as her mother, but her chemistry is not her destiny. And as I was praying, I was told that, yes, she’s going to be free now. God bless her beautiful soul and the souls of all who suffer that way.
I went back to sleep after posting this, and when I woke up, I clearly heard a woman singing a joyful hymn: “Oh, happy day! Oh, happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away!” I hope and believe it was Carol.
Note: Irises are my signature flower, as the flower essence enhances creativity. I found these beautiful irises at http://commons.wikimedia.org. The photographer was Thurner Hof. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0, Attribution ShareAlike 2.5.