Motherhood Monday Fiction Meme #16

Ah, yes, I remembered it was Monday and it was time to write something. And I got completely distracted by “shiny objects” and I didn’t get to take my nap. Oh well. Maybe that will help me sleep tonight?

The prompt:

In your piece, it’s someone’s birthday.
Just who is it? How old are they?
What surprising and unusual thing happens on their special day?
How does it affect your characters?
What action is taken?

A Twisted Birthday Celebration

It happened on my twenty-third birthday, but I didn’t know it at the time. In fact, we didn’t know about when the incident happened until later, when I saw a bill for the hospital admittance on their refrigerator. The incident itself, my sister and I found out awhile later when a phone call came to tell us the news that our father had been committed to the psychiatric ward after a 911-call from our now former step-mother that our dad was in the basement with a shotgun brought the police and the ambulance, because he was threatening suicide.

The call came just as I was leaving for work on the third-shift of a factory. I needed a few minutes to process the information and share it with my sister and mother, so I called my boss and told him I would be a little late. Not being very enthused about the job and being prone to illness, with every cold that came by infecting me, I missed a lot of work and was sometimes late. When I told my boss that I was late because I received a call that my father attempted suicide, I was excused for my tardiness. I supposed the shock of the situation and the breadth of my honesty swayed my boss in refraining me for punishing me about that half-hour or so missed.

We didn’t see our father that time he was in the psychiatric ward–I only saw him once, at a Veteran’s Hospital, when he was much, much worse than that time and totally confused about who we were and what was going on. (Apparently strong depression is genetic in my family, and once you get hit by it, it can come back and hit you in the face when you are faced with more stress than you can handle.) However, we did visit not long after his release, and that is when I saw the receipt on the fridge that told me he went into the hospital on December 12th–my birthday–a little point we were not told on the phone.

For years that day came back at me and I wondered why it was my birthday that he tried to commit such a horrible act. He told me that when you are that depressed, one day flows into the next and he didn’t even know what day or date it was. Can I believe that? Was there any significance to the fact that his oldest daughter was born on that day, that compelled him to let his depression take him to attempting the ultimate act of suicide? Was there guilt for any possible failures as a father that came into play here? Who knows? It could honestly been as he said–just another day on the calendar, a calender with which he had no connection with in his depressive haze.

Having the same tendency towards depression and coping many times with the desire to kill myself to free myself from my perceived hopeless situations in life, I instituted a new meaning to my birthday–I called that a Day of Reckoning: if my life hadn’t improved to the point where I had escaped my depression, I was allowed to kill myself.

Obviously, that hasn’t happened, but for years I was wary on my birthday of anything that could set me off into a crying jag that might push me to finally do what I had contemplated doing since the age of 12, when I wrote a poem on suicide after being hassled on the school bus by a bully that had the same name as me. This wasn’t something I talked about much–either the continued poetry about depression and suicidal tendencies–but I did tell a friend about the Day of Reckoning aspect of my birthday, and asked her to be with that night to keep an eye on me and keep me happy and occupied. Even though I reminded her, she forgot. I called her that night, completely depressed about some outside matter, and just wanted someone to be with so I wouldn’t keep crying and risk doing something stupid. However, she was going to Wal-Mart to help a girl buy shoes because she was still running around in flip-flops in December. I reminded her it was my birthday, and asked if I could tag along, but she said no. I fell out of communication with her for awhile, and was reunited with her by chance arrangement of our classrooms being adjacent. I talked to her and spent time with her, and went through the motions, but I was never able to trust her again because she was the only one that I had trusted with that information at the time and she completely ignored me, leaving me in a situation that could have resulted in my death. I have told her that there was something weighing on my heart that upset me about her, but I haven’t told her what it was because I didn’t know how. She was so young that perhaps the situation was too much for her, but all she needed to do that night was be company, that’s it. She wouldn’t have had to wrestle a razor blade from me or anything like that. But she blew me off, then and in the next month or two when I really needed support, like bragging that she didn’t have time to read my column in the paper because she was so busy, when complete strangers were giving me sympathies about my father-in-law’s passing, which I had written about in a column. Her bragging about not having the time for my measly 500 words was effective in making me feel small. She’s in my life again, but until I get this out the hurt will fester. Will it be any better if I tell her?

Anyway, back to my original topic of suicide, it was funny because there was a “National Suicide Day” in Sula, instituted by Shadrack, a character whom Wikipedia describes as “a paranoid shell-shocked WWI veteran.” Today I actually found a guide on Amazon.com called, “Be Part of National Suicide Day in Medallion” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/9BHUH9FBIUIW) which is kind enough to give us this summary of the book:

Well, the New Year has passed and it is now January 3rd. It is the day of reckoning, a day of decisions. Do you want to live or die today? You will have to make up your mind quickly because this day only comes once a year. It is National Suicide Day in the town of Medallion, Ohio. Instead of death being an unexpected entity you do it today , never or maybe next year. If you had it in mind to kill someone else, today is your day. According to your neighbor Shadrack, you must take action today. Now, if you wish to remain a resident of Medallion and live on , you will need some things to prepare for a day such as this for there will be graves to dig, caskets to make, people to bury and a few other things you will need to do to prepare yourself. Here is a list of items you may need to make this day run smoothly.

The guide continues to provide information on how to make a casket, how to dig a grave, and how to hold a funeral service, with links to other pages for purchasing either a back-hoe or a hymnal. I don’t know whether this site is sadly sick or just too damn funny! I think I will go with the latter.

As to the earlier personal story–everyone is doing fine right now. I just talked to my father and he sounds like he is doing great and really active in an organization he is involved in where he has a wonderful support system. And I think I have learned how to cope with stress and depression better, for I have not been plagued like earlier years. In fact, when I tried a medication the other month, I found myself getting depressed and suicidal for the first time in a long time. I stopped that, and now I wonder how many other times the intense problems came from the medications that were supposed to help cure them? Oh well. Ian is home and I must go check his book bag, get him settled, and get myself ready for night school.

I missed my nap, but I’m actually quite refreshed. The prompt did me good, for it got something out of me that was necessary and I wouldn’t have addressed it without the prompt that made me think of that date right away. And, I managed to write something that belongs in my NaNoWriMo project, so again I accidentally did work for two reasons at once. Whoot!

By the way–I’m not worried about my upcoming birthday. I will survive, because so much has changed in my life and in my attitude–especially because of the turning point I am focusing on in “Thirty Seconds,” my NaNoWriMo novel. See–it all comes together!

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