I was on a train on Friday afternoon, something I haven’t done in years. And it was full of university students on their way home for the weekend. I sat at a table alongside three of these students, one to the side of me and two facing me. I put on my ipod and I tried to drown out the clackty clack sound of the train and the din of the voices as people chatted and laughed.
I was absolutely amazed at the confidence of those three girls. One sat there with her laptop and typed notes (I presume), while the two facing me talked about their lecturers and other students at the university and what they would do this weekend. They oozed self-confidence. It seemed to just come from their pores, from the inside out. Their faces were animated, they gestured with their hands and they were alive – so alive….
I don’t remember being like that at their age, but I am sure I was at some point; that almost ‘cocky’ self-confidence that is the preserve of the young (and sometimes the not so young!!). It’s almost like an ignorance of the trials of life and what can come your way and because you haven’t been visited by the ‘school of hard knocks yet’, you are exuding poise and trust and belief in oneself.
My daughter had to go to a funeral on Saturday. One of her school pals had taken her own life; she was 16. There are probably many reasons for this and it is information no-one will be privy to now. Her boyfriend who had recently broken up with her sat like a statue at the back of the church and none of them quite knew what to say to him. He didn’t engage, he didn’t speak and left after the ceremony. My daughter didn’t know the girl very well and while she was upset, she wasn’t devastated. On Sunday morning, she came into my bedroom and said she NEEDED to go to her friends house; now! When I asked her what was up, she said the young chap had been found dead that morning (Sunday). He too had taken his own life. There will be no explanation for his parents either… What is glaringly obvious is two families are now in tatters. My daughter knew the chap. She had just finished school with him. They had just been to their graduation ball a few weeks prior. When I looked at the devastation this has caused and then juxtaposition that to the confidence and the poise of the girls on the train, it just breaks my heart. Nothing stays the same. Things change, circumstances change, life happens! It can get worse, for sure, but it can also get better.
It makes me realize how precious life is, how fleeting it can be and how nothing will stay the same. We are the sum of our experiences, we live with our mistakes but we learn from them. We rejoice in our triumphs and celebrate our uniqueness. But nothing stays the same. I have tried to tell my children this over the last few days; reinforcing the message that things pass, things change and no matter how bad or sad they feel, I am here always; to listen, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be their most ferocious supporter and the one who offers unconditional love. I needed them to know it’s not okay to give up, that the devastation that any action causes will ripple out and leave those who love them in a very bad place for perhaps a very long time. I made them promise that if they ever felt so bad they might do something stupid, that they would come to me. I just hope they have listened.