2018 is of great significance to me. I have three milestones, which I will discuss briefly. When we talk about milestones, they mark the passage of time but for me, they also represent small victories laced with grief. I arrived in the United States forty years ago in 1978, fresh and new. With my clean slate and new opportunities, I could accomplish anything. Or maybe that’s what I think now as I look back.
The 28th of October makes the third quarter of every year the most difficult to get through. Twenty years ago, my husband, Anthony James Seeley, killed himself in front of me with a colt 45 handgun. I write these words without any tears today because I have already shed an ocean of tears. However, I cannot tell you how much I will cry in ten minutes, tomorrow or the day after that. I never thought I would survive the first year after his death, but in 2018, my husband has been dead for twenty years. Of course, I am now crying because suicide leaves its mark on those left behind.
I should mention that his death came just ten days after my 25th birthday. I will forever mark my life by the date of his death. However, I remember him every year and honor him. I do this not because he killed himself but because he was alive. We had shared a life, no matter how brief. Suicide robs everyone of that life and those of us who are left behind need to talk about the consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The Veteran’s Administration indicates there are anywhere from 20 to 22 suicides a day among Veterans, National Guard, Reserve, and active-duty service personnel. This is a mental health issue but also a public health issue. Twenty years ago, when my husband was suffering, I did not understand what was happening nor did I recognize the signs. Please take the time to inform yourselves. Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic for suicide prevention material.
Before you think I am going to leave you all with just the sadness, let me tell you about my shortest milestone so far. I am a second-year doctoral student in disaster science and management. Back when I was a young immigrant to this country, I did not know what I wanted or what I could do. I also did not know how I could serve others. I have these answers today and as a Ph.D student, I feel almost as fresh and new as I did back in 1978. Thankfully, I have my 2018 knowledge with my years of experience, but I am grateful for living long enough for these milestones.
Thanks for reading and be blessed.