Archive for the ‘silence’ Category

My daughter’s last hour was a silent one. Late on a Saturday night when my husband, son, and I had gone to bed in a quiet house, Mary took a bottle of Korbel Brut from a basement refrigerator, went to her bedroom, locked the door, and began downing the champagne along with all the prescription antidepressant medication she had on hand.

Hers was a stealthy silence. The suicide note indicates she felt “lucky” not to have been detected when the champagne cork popped and hit her bedroom ceiling. Yet, the truly dangerous silence of that last hour was not the absence of a sound that might have alerted the rest of us. It was Mary’s inner silence, the feeling of complete aloneness and hopelessness she described in her suicide note as she began swallowing the pills.

Unaware of what had taken place, my husband and I left the house early the next morning to spend several hours at a monastery in Washington, DC. We would be joining Catholic adults–Discalced Carmelite Seculars–who’d discerned a call to silent prayer in their lives and promised to practice silent prayer each day as a service to the Church and world.

So while Mary was alone and silently cutting herself off from community, John and I were silently praying in community. That reality has haunted me from the beginning, and its message remains unclear.

But one truth is clear: the inestimable healing value of silence after Mary’s death. “We must have the courage to become more and more silent,” writes John Main, O.S.B. “In a deep creative silence we meet God in a way that transcends all our powers of intellect and language” (Word into Silence. New York: Continuum, 1998, p.7).

When every imaginable detail and speculation about Mary’s suicide had been uttered multiple times, ending in heartbreak and frustration, silence became the only safe house.

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