WARNING: Extremely graphic content dealing with suicide, violent imagery and death.
Some of you might have heard of Lori. She’s a mummy blogger in Australia whose breezy, clever writing made her stand out. Before. Before her husband suffered a psychotic break and committed suicide in front of her a few weeks ago. Lori’s incredibly courageous, stark and most of all completely honest blogging of the event and the aftermath may save lives.
Her latest blog post is quite possibly the most brutal, disturbing piece of writing I have ever read in my life. She has titled it “Ugly”. And it is. I felt as if I might vomit as I read it, and I cried uncontrollably after I finished it.
America, 1987. A family of four sits down at a battered mahogany dining room table, and the father begins to say grace. The father is a stern yet gentle man, his wife possesses the rosy cheeks and cheerful disposition of an ideal midwesterner, his pre-teen daughter is all knees and elbows and his son, a toddler, throws a carrot on the floor in a typical ploy to hold the attention of them all. The father’s “Amen” is drowned out by a scream so vivid, so tortured, so extreme that it had never been heard before and has never been heard since by any of the family during waking hours. But they hear it at night. In their dreams, for years to come.
“Oh my God!” the mother says. This is a measure of how serious the situation is: she normally says things like golly or gosh. She jumps to her feet and sprints through the front door. The rest of the family watch through the leaded glass dining room window as a young twenty-something woman, the daughter of the family who lives next door, grabs the mother by her denim jumper. “He’s dead! He’s DEAD!,” the family hears her wail, she’s screaming to the mother, she’s right in her face. “He SHOT himself!” He’s DEAD!” She collapses into the mother’s arms, as if she suddenly weighs nothing, as if she is a used kleenex. “He’s DEAD! I saw him! He shot himself in the HEAD!”.
The father and daughter realize that she is speaking of her brother, the gentle teenager who they knew well, who always smiled and said hi to the gawky tween (secretly making her day). He only wore black and a gifted pianist, he always played The Beatles on the piano next door, providing a soothing soundtrack. After today, none of the family will ever listen to The Beatles again.
I can’t even tell this story in the first person, it’s so painful. But tell it I want to, because I owe that to Lori. And I owe it to her to to republish the speech she gave at her husband’s funeral, in the hopes that if there’s anyone in my slender readership who needs to read these words (and I sincerely hope no one does), they will.
I don’t know what to say up here. I don’t know what i’m doing here. But I spoke at our wedding, and I must speak now.
I was going to tell you all what a great bloke Tony was, what a great father he was, but you all already know that, or you’ll hear it today. What I can tell you is that Tony was such a great husband. He loved me, and our kids, so much. He took care of us. And he was big, and strong, and protected us.
And we loved being married. We loved being husband and wife. A lot of people say it’s just a piece of paper, but it’s not. We were so happy to be together like that. I am so proud that he chose me to be his wife.
Tony took care of everyone. all the time. He was so busy taking care of everyone else, he didn’t speak out when something was wrong.
And this is what you can do for me, for Tony, when you leave here today. All you men, you big men. When you walk away from here, you speak. If something is wrong, if something hurts, then you talk about it. Tony was so busy taking care of everyone else, he didn’t care take of himself. So after this, you speak.
Please speak, if you need to.