What happened to you – you, to whom a mother once gave the gift of life?
How greedily you suckled, thirsty for a world that you would taint with unimaginable hatred. But back then, with gentle, tentative fingers, your mother wrapped you in a shawl of unconditional love and lilting lullabies, and you were rocked beneath a sparkling blanket of bright stars as she whispered a thousand dreams into your ear:
Lay thee down now and rest. May thy slumber be blessed.
You were nurtured; you were fed, clothed, schooled. She bade you run out into the streets to laugh, cajole, barter with other children as a rehearsal for a better life imagined. When you felt pain, she wrapped her hands around your face, feeling the soft flesh of your little cheeks nestle inside her cupped palms. In the midst of your selfish child’s squalls, she held on to you fiercely, your salt tears and her own trickling inside the split creases of her fingers: tributaries to a greater river of sorrow that lay ahead. And slowly, as is a mother’s wont, she untied the little boat from its mooring and pushed you out onto the lake, watching a troubled young man drift towards the dark clouds on the horizon, casting his stranger’s shadow over the widening ripples.
And up until that final heinous day, she continued to hear stories of how you’d greeted your neighbours in the park, how you’d shared jokes and confectionery with their children, how you’d stepped aside to let the elders pass by. The long periods of absence and changes in your appearance and name did little to quieten her mantra:
He has always been such a good boy…
And all of this, because she was your mother.
But at what catastrophic moment in your life did you decide that all of those gifts should be reciprocated in atrocity? At what point did everything that your mother had given you become obliterated in the ignominy of a reviled creed?
And now that you too have taken your own life, how does she feel? How do all the mothers feel – the mothers of the ones whose lives you have taken? How do they cope, blank and dazed in the first week’s wake, with their babies no longer there? What is it like for them all to still feel love burn so very fiercely, but to have nothing physical left to love? What is it to feel afraid of that pile of laundry, so innocuous the week before, but now so full of memories, scents, repeated actions, throw-away lavender words: the threadbear socks that were never discarded; the baggy jumper that was worn to comfort through illness or injury; undergarments that betrayed the occasional need to regress back to childhood? What is it to no longer be able to walk past the fridge door and brush against timetables that will no longer be followed, invitations that will never be answered, childish paintings that mark a life.
What is it to feel unable, ever again, to clean a room for dread of disturbing the way it always had been? To live in terror of dislodging, from beneath the sideboard or down the back of the sofa, those traces of a life so swiftly torn asunder.
Torn asunder by you.
And so I ask you to stop to think how your mother feels. But my question is carried, like the spare days and months and years of the dead, to a place where no-one listens. Because long before you showed complete ambivalence by taking your own life, you had ceased to care. And when the time came for you to commit the unspeakable, you also took the easiest way out of having to feel the tiniest shreds of uncertaintly, guilt and humanity germinate in your dark heart.
So, no: you never lived to bear the burden of how your mother, or any of the other mothers felt or feel to this day. But I tell you this: for every candle that you have extinguished, another has been lit by a grieving mother somewhere. And for each candle lit, the flame of the mother’s candle will burn evermore brightly.
Love will always prevail.