Remembering for the Sake of Not Forgetting

This blog post shares information about suicide. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, needs help immediately, and is located in the U.S., please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.) or the Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.

Find more information and resources at www.thestabilitynetwork.org/mental-health-resources/.


Remembering can be traumatic…especially in the midst of a tragedy. It’s taken me years, decades even, to write about my parents’ transition to the ancestral realm, about how they died, how they passed on. I dealt with my grief through busyness, sometimes resulting in a bipolar relapse where mania was in charge. On the flip side, a major depression would shut down my busyness and I thought about dying more than living I would attempt to take my own life. The only thing that kept me going was the two amazing children I am blessed to have: Jonathan and Faith. They were my lifeline. But, sometimes parenting was such a huge responsibility that I checked out on them, too. Fortunately, we had a village where the elders would swoop in and take over while I was recovering. Eventually, I would get better, pick up the pieces of my frayed life, and get back to work doing what I love: research and writing while being a community organizer and activist, focusing on what it means to create a better world for everyone.

My parents died by suicide in 1997 and for whatever reason, in 2004, the seventh anniversary of my parents’ transition from the earthly realm, I experienced a major crisis. I had to understand that I could not be healthy without grieving. I could not push my grief away. I could not rely on stoicism. I needed help. I had to value the process of remembering enough to feel my pain so I would better understand how to heal. Sharing mystory was part of my healing journey and from time to time there would be unique opportunities to expose my pain, times when I felt it would be safe. In the meantime, there was more awareness around suicide. There were more resources, ones like support groups for parents who had lost children, ones unavailable to my beloved parents who bore the weight of their grief in silence when they tragically lost their precious son.

There are some parts of my life that are very private and this was one of them, but we have too much tragedy in our community to remain silent. Yes, we are still standing despite all the pain but we’re also hurting and we have to help each other heal. We have to step up and end the silence. I’m constantly in prayer asking for the strength to do my part and help others. The statistics tell us what we already know. We are in the midst of a suicide epidemic. My commitment to be part of the change we need depends on my journey to health and resilience. My journey includes sharing what I wrote in 2004…it’s titled “Remembering for the Sake of Never Forgetting”.

Suicides

Mama overdosed on prescription medications

Daddy seven days later, gunshot to the head

Me…falling apart but holding it together

Remembering…taking care of business

For as the oldest of four, responsibilities I had

Funeral arrangements, explanations to offer

Why did it all happen?

I tried to explain what I wouldn’t forget

Remembering tragedy of 30 plus years before

Precious little brother, only six years old, falls to his death

From our third-story porch with inadequate railing

Slum landlord not held accountable

No housing court, no litigation, no justice that could not be found in a court of law anyway

Daddy cries alone, unable to accept even the comfort of his beloved wife

The grief combined with guilt strengthened the “what ifs” and created the whys

For remembering what they could not forget

Moving from poor neighborhood to middle-class one

White flight, re-segregation, gentrification…it all supports the politics of American democracy

Promoting equality where prejudice, discrimination, and racism

Function to maintain social, political, and economic inequality

My precious brother’s death reminded us not to forget

Struggles of ancestors long ago

Remembering the price they paid

Paving a way for future generations

Surviving tragedy

Families sold, murdered, brutalized, de-humanized

By any means necessary

Systems of oppression successfully maintained despite the relentless pain they create

Suicides

Remembering anniversaries

Seven years already…November 2004

I survived while forgetting the in-between spaces called years

Filled with life’s work…covered with busyness and distractions

Finding comfort in happy times with my children  

Family and friends did their best to provide support

They were the village we needed to sustain ourselves

But grief and consolation went unresolved

And I remembered for the sake of never forgetting

The pictures depict my family’s journey through success, pride, and joy

My memories overflow with the legacy of goodness I inherited

Yet, they also cause me to pause and ponder

For beneath the photographs laid tragedy left unprocessed

Indelible stains not easily removed

Unknowing that pain and wounds left untreated

Create potential for risk and self-destruction

For my parents knew of constant remembering

I acknowledge what I witnessed…the haunting that was left

They struggled to hold on when we visited the cemetery to place flowers on his tiny tombstone in August, the month of his birth

They were more than strong to provide love and nurturing despite missing their precious son

Welcoming their grandchildren with jubilant arms, showering them with tenderness and devotion

And raise their other three children to adulthood

But pain strangled happiness

And suicide took hold

How can I forget their pain?

When I struggle with the wounds created for me

And remember that I cannot forget and need to understand

And know……..Thy will is done

As I surrender to Our Creator’s will for obedience to my parents’ hopes and dreams

To develop the potential they first saw in me

And so, I remember to never forget the legacy my parents left

Strength, wisdom, laughter

Joy, tears, hugs, a soft place to land

A roof over my head, a place to call home

Delicious meals whenever I needed nourishment

My mother could cook and we anticipated each and every single meal!

And my father, he was quite the provider, ensuring that our every need was met!

I had to practice and humble myself

Leave behind the pain to

Understand that life is precious and invaluable

A gift that my parents sacrificed

A decision that only they could make

And I challenged anyone to judge their actions or

Document the pain that only they knew

As I honor and pay tribute to them

I will not forget to remember

Just how happy they were when they first fell in love

And created me

And so today…fifteen years later

I am still remembering to never forget

Their legacy of faith, hope, love, perseverance, and righteousness

For my parents are now ancestors providing timeless wisdom  

And, I am remembering for the sake of never forgetting

Just how very much I will always love them

In loving memory of

Margene and Edward Farmer

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