It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in my apartment, feeling awful–really down because Bobby’s mother got very upset with me. She wanted nothing more to do with me because I had told her that her son who was like a little brother to me wouldn’t go to Heaven because he had committed suicide. The incident took place yesterday when I visited her. This was a few days after the funeral.
“I refuse to believe that my 18 year old son who suffered from mental illness isn’t with the Lord Jesus. What right do you have to tell me that he’s going to Hell?”
“Mrs. Bradshaw, I didn’t say that he was going to Hell. All I said was that people who take their own lives cannot enter God’s kingdom.”
“Well, if Bobby isn’t in Heaven, that leaves only Hell because I don’t believe in Purgatory.”
“Mrs. Bradshaw, Bobby isn’t in Heaven or Hell. He’s in the grave like the rest of the dead until they are resurrected.”
“That’s enough, Abiyomi. I’m not going to listen to any more of your hateful, judgmental diatribe against my son. Now, get out of my house. I never want to see you ever again.” She marched over to the front door and flung it open, her eyes hostile as they met mine. Pain and fury marred her pale features.
As I scurried past her, I mumbled, “I’m sorry…” and was rewarded with a forceful slam of the door. I ran to my car, jumped in and sped off, tears streaming down my face. I drove straight over to my parents’ home and told my mother everything. She hugged me tightly and said, “Baby, Mrs. Bradshaw can’t accept that her son is lost. No parent could accept it. It’s hard enough to deal with Bobby’s suicide. She doesn’t want to hear that he wouldn’t go to Heaven because of it. All you can do right now is to pray for her and others who believe as she does.”
“She hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you. She’s angry and still trying to come to terms with the fact that her son took his life. She has had a lot to deal with over the years. You know what it’s like to have a loved one suffering with mental illness. Your aunt Mavis was bi-polar and taking care of her took a great toll on your grandparents but they managed with God’s help and now she is living a productive life. I never told you but she tried to kill herself when she was 13 years old but she didn’t because she said that God prevented her. My parents got a Christian Psychotherapist to help her and a doctor to help with her medication. It’s too bad we didn’t think of having Bobby talk to her. Perhaps she might have been able to help him.”
“I wish I had thought of Aunt Mavis. I could have asked her to help Bobby.” I began to cry again.
“Hush. Hush. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Bobby’s parents did their best to help him and so did his friends. Bobby suffered from depression and it’s important to know that when a teen attempts to or commits suicide it isn’t because he or she wants to die, but, it’s an attempt to escape a bad situation and or painful feelings.”
“If Bobby’s reasons for taking his life was to escape his pain why wouldn’t God let him into Heaven?”
“Whatever the reasons, however logical it may seem to the person who commits suicide, it is still wrong. We can never rationalize the taking of a life. It’s tragic that Bobby felt that he had nowhere to turn.”
“I wish I had spent more time with him, talked with him, prayed with him, helped him but I was too busy with my own life.”
“Are you sure that his suicide and what happened with his mother are the only reasons why you’re so upset?” my mother asked me. She was studying me very closely now. “I have a feeling that there’s something else.”
She knew me so well it was unnerving at times but not now. “It’s Bobby’s Uncle Marcus,” I admitted. “I’m worried that he will feel the same way as Mrs. Bradshaw and not want to have anything more to do with me.”
“Do you have feelings for him?”
“Yes, I do and I believe he has feelings for me too but I’m afraid that will change when Mrs. Bradshaw tells him what I said to her.”
“How long have you two been seeing each other?”
I told her.
“How old is he?”
“He’s twice your age, Abi.”
“That doesn’t matter, Mom.”
“Is he married?”
“No. If he were, I wouldn’t be dating him.”
“Was he ever married?”
“And he’s not in a relationship?”
“I hope not for your sake. So, what are you going to do if he sides with his sister?”
I sighed heavily. “I guess I can kiss any future with him goodbye,” I muttered and the tears began to fall afresh. I brushed them away and got up from the sofa. “I have to go.”
My mother’s eyebrows rose and she sounded disappointed when she concluded, “So, you’re not going to stay and have something to eat?”
“No. I just want to be alone right now and think about things. Thanks for everything. I’ll call you over the weekend. Love you.” I grabbed my bag and practically ran out of the house. I couldn’t wait to get home.
I haven’t left my apartment since I came in yesterday. I’m feeling miserable and I keep playing my conversation with Mrs. Bradshaw over and over in my head and I keep thinking about Marcus. Bobby and he were close so most likely he too would have a big issue with the things I said. I have to defend God’s truth no matter what even if that means losing Marcus in the process. I wanted to believe that as an Adventist he would see suicide the same way I did–that he wouldn’t allow his love for Bobby to blind him to the truth.
The ringing of the doorbell interrupted my thoughts and I got up from the rug and went to answer the door. It was Marcus. Heart racing, I opened the door. He looked serious. “Hello,” I said.
“Please come in.” I stepped aside for him to come in before closing the door. I preceded him into the living-room. Neither of us sat down, though. We both remained standing. He was watching me. I couldn’t hardly think straight and I tried not to stare at his muscular arms in the tee shirt which looked really good on him. I looked away.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“No,” I admitted. “I have been having a hard time since yesterday.”
“I know. Elaine called me last night.”
I looked at him then, my heart sinking. “So, she told you what happened.”
“Yes. I heard her side of the story. And now, I would like to hear yours.”
Taking a deep breath, I told him what happened and ended by saying, “I couldn’t let her believe a lie even if telling her the truth would be painful.”
He took my hands and led me over to the sofa where we sat down. We sat so that we were facing each other and he was still holding my hands. “Sometimes, we need to know when is the appropriate time to share biblical truths especially when it comes to sensitive situations as in the case of Bobby’s death. A couple of years ago, I attended a student’s funeral. The priest told his family and the mourners that he wouldn’t get into Heaven because he committed suicide. Now, even though what he said was true, was it right for him to tell them that? Wouldn’t it have been kinder and more compassionate to just celebrate how the young man lived instead of focusing on how he died. I don’t think he should have mentioned anything about the suicide. It was neither the place nor the time for that. The family was already reeling from a traumatic loss without him compounding it with his insensitive remarks. Suffice to say, that priest is no longer handling funerals and the last I heard, there’s a petition to have him fired. Now, do you get my point, Abi?”
I suddenly felt very ashamed and I nodded. “Yes.”
“As you know Bobby and I were very close. There are times when I think that I should have done more to prevent his death. Elaine blames herself because she believes that Bobby didn’t feel comfortable confiding in her and his father, Phil feels that he really didn’t know his son. And his sister, Nicole is still in denial. His death has taken a very heavy toll on us and we are still trying to process it. ”
“I too wish that I had seen the signs and had been more of a friend to him.” My voice broke and tears sprang to my eyes. He gently squeezed my hands.
“I honestly believe that Bobby could have been saved if he had had the right professional help. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to take his life. He had mental health problems but with the right treatment and care he could still be alive today. I blame his death on the lack of support for people with mental health issues. Right now, it’s hard to accept that he’s gone and to be told that he wouldn’t go to heaven because of what he did was just too much for her. The best thing you can do for her right now is to stay away.”
I nodded. “I will stay clear of her for a long as necessary. I hope that she will find it in her heart to forgive me. I didn’t mean to upset her.”
“I know. And I believe what you believe and that’s why it’s so hard…” his voice broke. “It’s so hard to accept that Bobby is lost…” He got up suddenly and stood with his back to me.
My heart almost burst with love for him and sorrow. I rose to my feet and went over to him. I walked around so that I was in front of him and I reached up and put my arms around his neck. His arms went around my waist and he held me close. I could feel his heart beating. We remained like that for a long, long time. When he drew back to look down at me, both of our faces were wet with tears.
“Since Bobby died, life has been tough but something wonderful has come out of all of this,” he said. “I met you.”
I smiled. “Yes. My life changed the day Bobby introduced us.”
“I never once imagined that I would fall in love with a girl half my age.”
“I’ve always had a thing for older men.”
“Well, this older man wants to spend the rest of his life with you if you will have him.”
“Of course, I will,” I cried.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he kissed me.