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On the 10th anniversary of Gretchen’s suicide, I am reading Kay Redfield Jamison’s book Night Falls Fast. I admit that my quest for knowledge is somewhat of an equivocation. Although I seek understanding of my stepdaughter’s struggle and its impact on her father and brother, I am eternally grateful for having been spared. I never met Gretchen, and pray that I will never experience this kind of torment or loss.

Still, there is the silence of the empty chair, the conundrum of Ives’ Unanswered Question. Whose voices did you hear, Gretchen? Why did you choose Folly’s ancient path of death? What is the meaning of your life? Seven times, the solo trumpet persistently calls and agitated woodwinds impatiently mock with increasing desperation. Offstage, soft, slow strings drone eternally, never changing from beginning to end.

I used to play the flute, believing that I was in control and had the right answers. Now that God’s infinite consonance is center stage in my life, I can choose to set aside meaningless chaos and, like a trumpet, ask questions and listen for Wisdom. With courage and effort, perhaps I will gain some insight in God’s time.

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