Boy: The Story of My Teenage Son’s Suicide by Kate Shand is one of the most heartbreaking, stirring and unputdownable books I’ve read in a long time.
I’ve been curious to read it ever since my friend Melinda Ferguson, who published it with Jacana, started speaking about the story and the processes, and each time we discussed it, we both had tears in our eyes. I can’t imagine any mother reading this and not being moved by one mother’s pain after her son’s suicide, and the process to try and pick up the fragments after.
While I was expecting a compelling read, I didn’t anticipate such a well written book, and I read it in hours – wanting to find answers and conclusions just as Kate did when questioning her son JP’s suicide.
One of the most powerful extracts goes as follows, about the time just after JP’s suicide:
“We sit in the dark and then in the early-morning light. We smoke. We talk. It is a gentle time. The world is asleep. The night sky and the quiet provide a protective blanket. A buffer between what has happened and the stark light of day still to come. The moon and the stars gently watch over us. They are in their place. The cosmos remains as it always has. Watching over this sad, broken family. Reminding us that the earth will move around the sun and the moon will move around the earth and the stars will come out and twinkle at us. This too is just another moment, a moment that barely registers in the enormity of it all,, in the timeline of eternity.
We are just another family – one of millions of families through time and space – who have experienced tragedy. But through the night and into the pink dawn we are the universe. Nothing else exists, except this movement and our confusion and loss – the full impact of which still awaits us.
And then the sun comes up, and those who are still awake go to sleep as those who have just woken begin to keep watch. I stay on the couch that night and for weeks to follow. I never want to do again anything that I have done before – nothing familiar – and although David and I are kind and respectful and attentive, we are on our own. I can’t reach out to him. I don’t even think of it. It is enough to keep myself together. Grief is lonely. It cannot be shared.”
I can’t stop thinking about this book, about one boy’s battle and his family’s anguish. And how we can never anticipate what will happen, nor keep our children close enough.