Recently, I sat at dinner with my friend Fred discussing a writing project that involved using my high school journals and the lessons I learned from my years of running competitively in cross country and track. I said something about the difficult relationship I had with my dad and how I debated including that. Fred looked puzzled and asked, “I thought you and your dad were good buddies?”
At that point, I realized that Fred didn’t know about those years with my dad, the…
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 8, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments
On my second trip to Australia, I was in a Melbourne restaurant with several friends for dinner when one of them, an Australian, went with me to pick out a dessert. There was this gloppy mess of a cake and I asked Susan what it was. “Oh, that’s very Australian,” she said. “It’s sticky date pudding.” As she would later say, it’s mostly made up of butter and sugar (plus some dates). While looking quite like a messy cake, and obviously very sticky, it’s a wonderful dessert that I…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 6, 2011 at 9:00am — No Comments
Several days ago I had a birthmark removed from the side of my head. While the chances of it becoming cancerous are relatively small, the dermatologist was concerned because I turn forty later this year and the incidence of cancer in these particular birthmarks goes up at that point. Although my hair covers up the shaved spot and my Franken-girl stitches, I didn’t sleep that first night. Everything was turned around from my usual routine. I had to sleep on one side the entire night, they…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 2, 2011 at 4:55pm — No Comments
I was raised in a family where military service was praised and celebrated as part of our history. My maternal grandfather, a general practice physician, served in the South Pacific during World War II and my father spent several tours in the Navy, one during the…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 28, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments
Early this morning on my run-walk with my dog Chaco, I asked that I not miss any signs that my deceased loved ones are with me in my daily life. After taking Chaco home, I went back out with Nestle and Hattie (mornings are a succession of all four dogs getting their run-walks after my run without them) and as we were running along, my thoughts completely elsewhere by that time, I happened to look ahead and saw that I was about to step on a butterfly. I stopped short and managed to miss the…Continue
While I spent three years in Muncie, Ind., attending Ball State University, I never drove in the town until the past three days. And for three days, I constantly missed my turns. While I realize I don’t remember much of my last year there (following my sister’s suicide and then the death of my maternal grandmother seven months later), it was baffling to me that I consistently remembered things opposite of how they really are. This included where the bathroom is in the home of “adopted” mom…Continue
I pulled out the blue spiral notebook where I journaled from 1991 to 1994, my Ball State University years. Tomorrow I will drive the 239 or so miles to Muncie, IN, where I did my undergraduate work in journalism. I haven’t been there in almost ten years, shortly after 9-11, when I lectured as part of the journalism department’s Professional-in-Residence series.
I’m not sure what I was looking for when I opened up the journal but it was much more painful to read than I…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 16, 2011 at 3:34pm — No Comments
After dropping off some books at a local bookstore here in Naperville, I had about fifteen minutes with nothing to do before my next errand. I thought I would take a walk and headed over to Riverwalk. At what was once the east end of the Riverwalk, there is a fountain. Earlier that morning on my run I had found a penny and now as I walked by the fountain, I found another one. I knew that this penny belonged in the fountain although I’m not sure if someone missed when throwing it in or if it…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 14, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments
I grew up swimming in a former limestone quarry. Centennial Beach in my hometown of Naperville, Ill., had been converted from quarry to oversized recreation area in the 1930s (to celebrate the town’s centennial). Just over a mile from my childhood home, it was better than any neighborhood swimming pool because of its large size.
I wasn’t much of a swimmer in my younger years. While I had swimming lessons, I just wasn’t very strong and taking the deep water test…Continue
For many years, the sign of my sister’s presence was the song “Rodeo” by Garth Brooks. In the last months before her death, she had given a speech in class and had sung part of that song. It’s the only video we have of her.
As long as I listened to country music stations, I usually was assured I would hear the song. Eventually, though, I returned to Top 40. Then, several summers ago as I was driving through Malibu, California, along the ocean on Pacific Coast…Continue
I was struggling with something on Saturday, debating whether or not it should remain in my life. It was one of those times where I couldn’t figure out on my own which way it should go. While I believe that faith is essential for us to trust the unknown journey ahead, I needed reassurance about something. When I went to church that evening, I asked for that help. I wasn’t sure what kind of sign I would get to let me know how to move forward but I asked anyway.
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 8, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments
Mother’s Day with my family wasn’t just about Mom. It was about Grandma Linn and Grandma Zurawski, too. Because my grandparents lived at the opposite ends of Chicago, we usually saw Grandma Linn on Saturday and then gathered with the other side of the family and Grandma Zurawski on Sunday. My sister Denise and I often drew cards and pictures for our mom but also for our grandmothers, in particular Grandma Zurawski simply because we saw her more often.
But I didn’t get to know…Continue
The American Association of Suicidology Conference in Portland, Ore., two weeks ago was a busy time for me, to put it mildly. But it was that good kind of busy. It was nonstop talking to people, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (I wouldn’t have it any other way), as well as plenty of presidential duties. The first morning I led the plenary session with my presidential address. I officially became president that afternoon at the business meeting.
Up until the…Continue
From first grade forward, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Several times between first grade and high school I debated becoming a psychologist or an athletic trainer but a part of me never wavered from a writing career. In high school, I began writing my first novel, a fictional…Continue
It’s Easter afternoon as I write this. I admit that I can’t remember the last time I went to church on Easter morning. Heck, I can’t even remember what I did last Easter. But this year something has been different. I trekked to church this morning and enjoyed the entire service, all ninety minutes of it. This year, more than ever though, I missed many of the Easter rituals that have traditionally been part of my life.
Holy Saturday in particular was an important day for my…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on April 25, 2011 at 10:10am — No Comments
As Lent approached, I considered something I could do for myself that would make me a better person. Growing up in a Polish Catholic family, every year in CCD we were instructed to give up something and I remember it almost always being candy.
My sister died when I was a college student. In the year following Denise’s death, my senior year, I was fortunate to have the support of the Ball State University Catholic community (it was the pastor of the church who pulled me from…Continue
I am not a churchgoing person. Throughout my life I have gone to church at times when I felt I needed a little support or maybe time to reflect. Last week I talked with the priest who had been with me in the first year after my sister died when I was a student at Ball State. He commented that I’m the type of person who feels a sense of spirituality no matter where I’m at; I don’t need to be in church.
This year for Lent, I wanted to do something that would ultimately make me…Continue
For as long as I can remember, each time I’ve moved, my high school jean jacket (adorned with several patches on the sleeves) and a formal dress from a high school dance have come with me. I knew I’d never wear the jean jacket again and obviously I’ll never wear the dress again. Actually, I was able to get it on the other day but I couldn’t zip it all the way up– apparently my rib cage has expanded since I was sixteen (I should admit that it’s been over twenty years although it…Continue
For years, researchers were afraid to approach survivors of suicide loss. Many were afraid they might say something to upset the survivors while the survivors, standing on the other side of the divide, wanted to talk to the researchers. They wanted to offer what they could about their loved ones that might help other families avoid having to cope with the pain of the suicide loss of a loved one.
Few studies today involve survivors of suicide loss and all of these are about…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on April 8, 2011 at 4:23pm — No Comments
It’s been ten years since my book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling , was published. And it’s been eighteen years since my sister Denise walked in front of a train just two weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday during my…Continue