There she lays, a few seconds old; cradled in my arms; a gentle whisper of peacefulness; a vision of perfection; the personification of beauty… and I fall in love… for the very first time in my life. Those other times I thought I had fallen in love were nothing like this. I am experiencing a moment of pure joy and pure happiness… for the very first time in my life. I gently kiss her forehead. No words are needed.
The people who come to meet her for the first time all fall under her spell. They adorn her with love and marvel at her perfectly formed features. They look in awe at the little head of dark hair, adorned with perfect little blonde streaks. They joke that she looks like she’s just been to a professional hair salon. The room is filled with people who are meeting this beautiful treasure for the very first time. The room is also filled with laughter and amazement at the size of this new arrival – a healthy 10lbs 4oz. I look on with pride. I look on with a quiet, low rumbling growl stirring deep within me. A quiet growl that results in yet another birth that day – the birth of a Father who knows he would battle Heaven & Hell to protect his Daughter. A Father who knows that life has changed. A Father who knows that he has to slay his own Demons and embrace his own Angels in order to fully serve as a capable and worthy Protector to this little miracle. I didn’t fully realise it at the time but I would come to see that day as one of the biggest ‘Shifts’ in my life…
Here she stands, at over 6 feet tall, long hair glistening in the sun, beautiful beyond compare, about to take a courageous big step into the real world. She musters up the courage, fights the raging anxiety, battles the crippling shyness, and tries to compose herself… and again, I get to hold her in my arms… I get to hold her in my arms and place a gentle kiss on her forehead. No words are needed…
The people who will meet her for the first time today will be taken by her striking, yet elegant appearance. They will get to see her warm smile for the first time, hear her cute little chuckle for the first time, and maybe even see a glimmer of the immense talent and strength she possesses, a talent and strength she hasn’t fully realised yet. I’m almost envious and ever protective. Will they see that she is enlightened beyond her fifteen years on the planet? I hope so. Will they see that she has an old soul? I hope so. Will they chuckle in wanton disbelief, at her Amazonian like height? I hope so. Similar to her first day on the planet she will make waves and touch peoples hearts in a very gentle, positive way. She walks into your life like a gentle breeze yet the impression she leaves has all the power of an angry tornado.
Somewhere not too far from this meeting a low growling can be heard, similar to the one that came to life fifteen years ago. It’s similar but it’s not quite the same. It has grown, aged, and matured. The once solitary growl has now became part of a pack of growls that ever grows in watchfulness and devotion – with each Daughter’s birth a new growl was added to the pack – it’s the sound of a protective and proud Father walking away as his firstborn walks into a room full of people she has never met before. It’s the sound of a Musician, grinning with pride, as his teenage daughter faces the first day of a Creative Arts venture that will test her talents, and her resolve. It’s the sound of a guy who knows how tough it is for her to take this step smiling proudly as he sees her take charge of her Demons and embrace her Angels. It’s the sound of a forty two year old man who still carries his own teenage dreams while watching his daughter go follow her’s. It’s the sound of pure joy.
That moment fifteen years ago is still as vivid to me now as it was the day I was present in it. She might look like a stunning young woman to anyone meeting her for the first time. To me she’s still the little Angel who rested in my arms and inspired me to become my best version. To me she’s still my little girl.
I could tell she was a little tense on the car journey over. I expected her to be quiet and pensive, and to be honest I was a little worried that she might bottle it and not go at all. Something else was going on with her though. She told me that all the after school clubs had been cancelled and that she wouldn’t be staying behind tomorrow for study group. Then she told me that the reason for the cancellation was that a girl in the year above her had committed suicide… and I instantly saw the pain, sadness, and bewilderment in her blue eyes… a pain, sadness, and bewilderment that I’m more than familiar with.
I have experience of working with Suicide Awareness/Prevention charities. I’ve had more than a little involvement in spending time with families who have been left behind after a loved one has ended their life. I’ve experienced the aftermath firsthand when someone in my own life has ended theirs. I once found myself lost in complete grief and bewilderment when one of my own friends, a guy who worked closely with me in my small attempt at raising Suicide Awareness; a guy who starred in a music video portraying someone who was contemplating suicide but who then saw the light in another human soul and decided to choose life; a guy who was always the life and soul of the party; and a guy who is still in my thoughts almost five years later, ended his life without warning.
I’ve also been the guy who has stood on the edge, staring into the abyss on too many occasions… and I have seen it staring back at me. I’ve been the guy who scrambled out of it with bleeding fingernails and muddied face. When I hear of someone taking their own life I feel a plethora of emotions, and a deep sense of empathy, dancing with an eerie whisper of survivors guilt.
I’m struggling to think of something helpful and inspiring to say tonight. I have the mechanics, the experience, and the knowledge to offer advice and tips on how to ‘spot the signs’, how to ‘cope with depression’, and how to change your habits to increase your happiness… but tonight I just don’t have any words that come from genuine truth in this present moment. Tonight all I can do is muster all the love I have in my body and send it out to the poor man who once held his newborn daughter in his arms; who once watched her take her first steps; who once felt that low growl of the Protective Father being born; who once knew that he would fight Heaven & Hell to keep her safe… yet who now weeps at the loss, and wails at the pain of his soul being ripped apart. Tonight all I can do is push on in my efforts to be the best version of ‘Me’ in order to never be in the place of questioning the value of my own life ever again; that I might inspire my two beautiful daughters; and that I might always be aware and alert of even the simplest sign that something might be troubling them.
Tonight all I can do is yet again try to reach out to someone and simply say: “Suicide is not the solution to any problem. Ending your own life will end countless lives around you. Just as a tsunami follows an earthquake, destroying every village in it’s path, so will the devastation that follows your passing wreak havoc through the village of your family and friends.”
Tonight I can’t even think of the Mother, Brothers, Sisters, Friends and extended family that mourn this little girl. Tonight all I can think of is her Dad. I’ve been the Dad who has had to deal with the pain of divorce and the pain of not living in the same house as his daughters. I’ve been the Dad who has had to say both hello and goodbye, in a single second, to my darling little newborn who didn’t quite make it to this world. (I still think about you sweetheart xx) I’ve been the Dad who worries that he’s not doing a good enough job and who thinks his past failings and calamities have left emotional scars on his daughters. But I haven’t been the Dad who has had to hear the news that his little girl has taken her own life. That pain would stop my heart beating instantly.
If you’re reading this please do something for me. Please sit somewhere quiet, and take a minute to imagine yourself sending love, support, and strength to the Dad and the family who are facing this tsunami head on. Whether you believe in all that ‘spiritual mumbo jumbo’ or not. Please do it. You’d be surprised at how truly powerful a thought can be. One simple act of compassion is more powerful than every act of violence ever committed.
Jesus said: “What is the price of two sparrows–one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Tonight those words feel both comforting, and appropriate to end with.
For Yorkie, David, Paul, ‘Uncle Eddie’, and all the other poor souls who just couldn’t take any more. xx