Monday, May 15, 2017

Eight year anniversary

Eight years ago today, May 15, my mom called at noon and said Dad was gone.

Most of me knew that we would never see him alive again. He was not likely to survive a seventh suicide attempt, when the prior attempts nearly killed him, and the last one diminished him greatly.

His body was frail. His spark was gone. His smile was forced, barely a pull-back of his lips. His eyes were flat.

But a tiny piece of me held out hope. We'd saved him so many times. He was excited about my first baby; surely he wouldn't leave us with just three months to go.

I needed him to meet my baby. I needed him.

Surely he wouldn't go when I needed him so much.

---

We got Dad's goodbye letters out of the blue, a year after his death.

They'd been sitting in some file in the 3rd District Precinct.

A kiss with a fist.

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It took me five years to stop obsessing about my dad's suicide.

I'd wanted to secretly microchip him, you know, so I could always know where he was. You're not allowed to do that.

It took me five years to understand that not only could I not save him, but it wasn't my responsibility. None of us can save anyone else, not long term. No matter how hard we try.

The instant I understood this, I felt absolved.

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Eight years later, I still cry sometimes. I get sucked into the ugly "what-ifs" even though intellectually, I know they are pointless.

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I still wonder if Dad died on the 15th or the 16th. His death certificate says the 16th, but I learned recently that the time of death is determined by when the DC official sees the body and records the death.

Did he walk around DC one final time? Did he have any hesitation? Both days were spectacular, drenched in sun, luxuriating in azaleas.

I remember after my mom called, looking at the riotous blue of the sky, the kiss of the sunshine. And I thought, Dad couldn't choose today. It's too beautiful a day to die.

So was the next day.

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For a long time, I was angry. How could he abandon us? How could he do this to me? Didn't he love me enough? Didn't he want to know my baby?

And I felt so guilty about my anger.

Now I tell people to allow themselves feel whatever they feel. All your feelings are valid. No shame.

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If you can forgive, you will feel better.

You might need to forgive yourself. If you do, start there. 

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I've decided that if you are someone who can see the bridge, sometimes it looks so easy to just step off. Coming back from that point and living is what's painful and hard.

I have heard the mermaids sing, each to each.

Living every day on a semi-even keel, when you're not a semi-even keel person, can be exhausting.

---

Laughter and hysterical sobbing are not so far apart.

It's shockingly easy to swerve back and forth in grief.

Always run with laughter, no matter how inappropriate it might feel.

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I know that Nick doesn't understand why my dad's death is still a big topic for me. He's not outwardly critical--to the contrary, he's supportive--but I know he genuinely does not understand.

I'm not vying for the worst loss award. But suicide is different.

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It's a relief for me to be with others who have lost loved ones to suicide.When I do the Overnight walk, it's a crowd I'm at ease in, no matter how few people I know.

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The other day Betty said, "Maybe you can finally stop writing about death."

I said, "I don't think so."

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Some days are better than others. Most days are better than others.

Some girls' mothers are bigger than other girls' mothers.

What?

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I have a dear friend who annually sends *hugs* on this day. It is perfect.

He is one of my heart people.

I would never have met him if I hadn't started writing about depression and suicide.

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All loss hurts.

I selfishly want those I love to live forever. Or at least longer than me.

Whatever I feel is valid. I should allow myself to feel it, be honest, and let it go.

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After years of lying when saying, "I'm fine!" I am honestly, actually fine.

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Anniversaries are hard.

And that's OK.

2 comments:

  1. We've never met (although I hope to change that soon!), but every year I remember the gut-wrenching pain I felt for you in those days when he went missing. I've lost a close friend to suicide, and while that's far from a father, I'm surprised that 15 years later it can just punch me in the gut out of nowhere. I'm glad you're feeling less day-to-day pain now.

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    1. I hope we meet soon, too, Tia! I really appreciate you sticking with me through all that. I'm so sorry about your friend. You know the punch in the gut. It's so shocking when it comes out of nowhere and just crushes you. Big hugs.

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