by Connie Kennemer
Birthdays and holidays can be tricky business for suicide survivors. My sunshine boy Todd would have turned 37 last summer. On his birthday, we celebrated with a trio of fellow survivors that were ready to party; in fact, they had a plan in mind. They came to the table with love, laughter and a list. The list changed everything for me.
We picked the party setting, a favorite taco shop in Hillcrest called Tacos Libertad. We referred to it as Tacos Libertodd, just for the celebration. The chief party planner informed us that all conversation had to comply with the afternoon’s theme: Todd. Plain and simple. A friendship circle who’d never met Todd in real-time wanted to see him through the lens of his parents.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? We want our lost loved ones to be known and be remembered for their lives, not for their exits. The list was the tool our friends crafted to bring Todd to his own party. As Rex and I went down the list, some repressed memories resurfaced as we recounted some of Todd’s childhood escapades, something sadly absent in our last decade. Laughter, surprise, delight, curiosity, even shock happened. Todd was in the room!
This list was crafted by a parent for a parent and reflected questions my friends wished someone would ask them about their loved ones. They left Tacos Libertad with a brief and engaging biography of our sunbeam.
My advice? Give a list to a survivor you know and love. They need the list and you need to meet someone they dearly loved.