One year ago, Ashley committed suicide.
It’s been a year of darkness for us. My grandmother passed away about six weeks after Ashley, then my parents had to put down two beloved family pets. And of course, there’s been that whole political shitshow.
It’s been an intense year to say the least.
We’ve tried our best to normalize Ashley’s suicide. We talk about it openly amongst ourselves (though I still find myself fumbling with euphemisms and having to self-correct. We’ve both had our own share of dark thoughts and have shared them with each other, rather than keeping them inside.
We talk about Ashley and how we miss her and wonder aloud at what her reactions to any number of things would’ve been. We’ve taken to dealing with milestones by an Ashley scale. “This is first school year without Ashley.” “This is our first holiday without Ashley”. She’s never far from our thoughts, words or deeds.
Both Andrea and I took off work on the anniversary of Ashley's suicide. Andrea opted to go visit the school that she and Ashley taught together at. It’s her first time back since we moved her stuff out of her office at the end of the last school year. It was hard but she was glad she did it. Then she went off to get herself a tattoo in Ashley's memory.
For my part, I felt guilty that I wasn't sadder, that I wasn't constantly crying over Ashley being gone on the anniversary of her death. But then I remembered the weeks after Ashley's death where all I did was breakdown and cry when I was alone. I remember the all crying I did when people reached out to me with a spot of kindness. We're not walking open wounds anymore -- we're not healed by any means and we never will be. But we aren’t in danger of drowning in grief anymore but those pangs of loss are still there everyday.
This is our new normal.