Sad Superman

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I have been called a hero.  I’ve been called strong, amazing, heroic.  And I can say without the slightest of hesitation, I do not feel any of these things.  It’s mystifying to me that anyone could ever identify me as a hero.

And why, you might ask, have I been identified as heroic?  What feat of superhuman rescue did I perform?

I loved my daughter. 

It doesn’t get more complex than that. 

Perhaps I should give you some context.  Because calling someone a hero for doing what they are supposed to do as a parent, seems just a little odd.  My Father, after the death of my daughter, tearfully praised me for all I had done for her in the months leading up to her succumbing to the depression that ate away at her soul.  That I had taken the time off of work, had stayed with her, walked with her, tried to help and heal her.  He said it was heroic.

My friend called me amazing, and heroic, because after all our efforts to save her failed, I stood up and delivered her eulogy.  I planned her funeral, I walked behind her casket, and I didn’t fall down.

Yet another friend called me heroic for being able to walk in to her room, and begin the process of sorting through her things.  To seek people and places to donate my child’s belongings, just as I know she would want them to be used.

And even another called me Superman, for doing all these things, and for not falling apart completely.

To me, these are things that I can’t accept.  Trying to help Amber through her depression, trying to save her life, that was nothing more than what I SHOULD have done as her father.  Delivering her eulogy?  She deserved nothing less than her father being willing to stand up and tell her story.  And the rest?  That’s just the sad aftermath, that all who lose a loved one must ultimately undertake.

But let’s pretend for a second, doing all of those things make me heroic.  Let’s perpetuate that illusion for a second.

The only thing it means, is that I’m a failed hero.  I’m the sad Superman, who despite rushing in to rescue, watches as his efforts fall apart.  Hand desperately outstretched, trying to catch the falling victim, and missing. 

The Superman who can’t fly, so he has to run to try to keep up with what he can’t catch.  No super hearing or vision, no inhuman strength.  Just a bent man in a crumpled cape placed on his shoulders by other people.  Face in his hands, living with the regret of not being the superhero that he needed to be to get the job done.

Do I blame myself that I couldn’t save her?  Do I cast fault at my own feet that my daughter chose to end her own life?  No.  The depression that consumed my beautiful child was something that even the real superman couldn’t defeat.  It was the kryptonite of mental illness, and all efforts to change it met with failure.

But oh, how I wanted to be Superman.  I wanted to stop the speeding bullets of her self-hatred.  I wanted to stand in front of them and have them deflect off of me like nothing more than crumpled up pieces of paper.  I wanted to have super vision so that I could see when she was harming herself, and I could swoop in to stop it.

I wanted to be able to travel “Faster than a locomotive” like Superman. Faster still, than the train that brought me home on that fateful day, so that I could have been there in time to stop it.

I could do none of those things. And although I don’t accept the fault, I don’t shoulder the blame for it, I live with the regret, that the enemy was stronger than me, the super-villian was too much, too powerful to be defeated.

I can’t wear the cape.  I don’t deserve it, and capes are useless when you are unable to fly.

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5 responses to “Sad Superman

  • RartT

    Your last three blogs gave me goosebumps til I broke into sweats.

    I never got to say what confidence you give me considering how you handle and can analyze through your emotions.

    I like spending my time to learn from you, and on a separate note, your daughter.

    Just wanted to say thanks.

    • Cheddarmelon

      If you are learnining from me, you’re learning from her, she was my greatest teacher. My “handling” of emotion has been mostly flailing away at it, but I’m glad it has helped in any way. Thanks for your comments, they are meaningful!

  • multiplemonster

    Cheddarmelon,

    After reading your comment this morning on my blog, about losing my father to suicide, I came here to read some of your story. I want to first say that I am so so sorry. I can’t imagine the pain that comes with losing a child to an invisible to disease such as depression. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and I am just so incredibly sorry.

    Secondly, yes, you can be called a hero, Superman if you will. Because according to a friend of mine, “God only gives crosses to those who can bear them…”, well if this is true, if there is a god, and he does this, then he must see you as a superhero, you would have to be to carry such a cross. I don’t mean to preach, because I don’t even know what I believe myself. But I digress. Also, it takes a special man… not just any man, but a very special one to be a daddy to a little girl. It’s not like raising boys, where you can relate and whatnot. No, being a father to a little girl is different. Because it is just asking to have your heart broken at some point. My dad used to tell me that for 18 some odd years, that he would be my main man, the greatest thing on the Earth, my hero. And this is so true. But then… one day, he would lose me to my new main man. Just the thought of that can break any father’s heart. And it makes you a hero in my eyes. All of you… men who have little girls and are there. There for all the drama and dresses, attitude and lipstick.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog, and I wish I had more cheerful things to say here, but I don’t… all I know, is that you dear sir, need a cape made of the finest materials, to represent the hero, the superhero that you truly are.

    • Cheddarmelon

      What jumps to mind, is if there IS a God, why he would throw these “crosses” on us in the first place. But I don’t want to get in to a theological spiral in my own head at the time being, so I find myself focusing elsewhere.

      Thank you for commenting, and thanks for the kindness. I still can’t see myself wearing the cape, but I appreciate the encouragement. You are not alone, and I know I am not as well.

  • Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective

    I remember once when my husband, several years after our son was killed by a drunk driver, breaking down and sobbing because he felt like he should have been able to protect Jason. He felt like it was his job as a dad to protect him, even though there was absolutely nothing he could have done. Our son made wise choices; the drunk driver who hit him did not. It was not the fault of our son or my husband.

    People call bereaved parents strong…partly because that’s what they want to think, partly because we are so numb and go through the motions and it’s interpreted as being strong. We keep going because that’s what we know how to do, what we have to do.

    You are not alone…thank you for your honest writing.

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