His 14-year-old son, Jeremiah, died by suicide in 2008, and in Jeff's soft, clear voice, he tells us "the grief never goes away ... the guilt, you'll always have." I certainly get that. But even so, I hear in his words evidence of a man who is fighting the good fight, who -- in the very act of saying what he is saying -- is coping with his grief and dealing with his feelings.
"I was Jeremiah's parent," he says. "I was supposed to be his protector, so I'm the one that's responsible for that action." His declaration conjures up -- in the real voice of a real parent -- the tension between what caused his child's death and the responsibility he feels for his child's welfare. In those few words, he touches the heart of countless bereaved parents who struggle with what they did or didn't do. For me, the statement is not about fault or blame -- but about identity: I am the boy's father.Jeff's closing lines reject the passage of time as a simple balm for grief:
You know, people say, "Well time heals everything." Not when it comes to this.I understand his rejection of that trite saying, but it also makes me wonder how Jeff sees time now: What does the passage of time mean to him? Some measure of healing is evident in his work on the foundation he started in his son's name. Surely, other forces have healed him -- for he had the courage one day to step in front of a microphone and share a few hundred words of wisdom with the rest of us.