The conversation about his death always follows a predictable pattern. I guess it's good for me because I've practiced the same pattern of responses so many times that I can say them now without feeling anything. Similar to my PTSD therapy, once you've gone over and over a memory enough times, it loses it's power.
However the questions is asked, however the topic arises, the question that follows is always the same.
"Didn't you know something was wrong?"
The answer, sadly, is no. When we think of suicide, we imagine sad people sitting in a dark room with no friends to turn to and no life to live. In reality that is only a stereotype. Most people that kill themselves are like my man, full of life. He was the center of attention all of the time. At parties, he was the one that made sure everyone else was having fun. During our travels he made friends with everyone. There was always laughter when he was in the room.
I've decided against using names because I think anonymity gives me the freedom to be truly honest. So I will not use his name, but he was the brightest star in the sky, and his laughter was violently contagious. I belong to a support group for other widows of suicide, and we joke that we were all with the same man. This is the other reason that I will not be using his name. The man I love is (was) no different than these other men. For all the pain in my heart, I wish that my story was special. If my story was singular then all these other people would not know how much I suffer, but this is a universal truth. My man, our man, was full of laughter and love. If he was in a room, then it was a party.
Few people ever saw the other side of him (them). No one cared that he drank too much because they didn't live with him. I was often viewed as a kind of care taker. I was the woman who brought out pitchers of water for drunk people to drink. I enjoyed the party, and I went along for the ride. As the years rolled on I wanted to settle down. I did complain, bitch, whine and moan, but instead of changing him, I just decided to accept that loving such a wild and creative creature meant dealing with certain eccentricities. I just assumed they would fade with time...
In retrospect, of course I saw it coming. For a year before we got engaged I was so jealous of our friends that were getting married and having children. He didn't want that. He didn't want children because, as he said many, many times, he didn't want to have been born and he would never force life on anyone. How could that not have been a clue?
He also told me, many times, that he never wanted to grow old. He told me that he'd put a bullet in his head before he got old. I thought he meant 90, not 28.
A few weeks before he died I walked in on him reading an article about assisted suicide. We even had a brief conversation about it. I said it was only okay for dying people, he said that anyone had the right to choose whether they wanted to live. The conversation lasted only a moment, but in retrospect he was telling me that he believed he had a right to end his own life.
He was depressed. There is no question that he was depressed, but don't we all get depressed? I had seen him worse off before and he always came out of it. It sounds stupid now, but we were only a few months from our wedding and I thought the depression was an expression of his fear over marriage. I must have been worried, because I did call one of his close friends to tell him that he should visit.
But suicide? No, I never saw that coming.
Even when he looked me in the eye, and laughing, told me that he was killing himself, I didn't believe a word of it.
I used to work very late. One morning I was doing yoga in our living room before I went to work. He opened the door and told me that he wanted to have sex before I left. It wasn't an unusual request. Even though things had been very difficult for us I gladly obliged, told him how much I loved him, and left for work around 3pm.
He didn't call me for the rest of the day. I remember thinking it was weird, but I just assumed that he was busy and forgot to call me before he went to sleep. I left work at midnight, relived that I managed to get out of the office on time.
When I walked into the apartment there was blue glass and food all over the kitchen floor. I was shocked and asked what happened, he told me that he'd microwaved some food, and the plate was so hot that he'd dropped it. He was obviously very high so I asked what was going on. He started to laugh, "I'm killing myself," he said. Then he fell on the floor, still laughing.
I called a friend to ask what would happen if he accidentally took too many pills (Valium, klonopin etc). I was told that all I had to do was make sure that he was awake and coherent. As long as he was conscious then he was okay. If he lost consciousness, or stopped making sense, then I had to call the police. I did some research online and found that this was true.
People just don't kill themselves right? They cry for help.
So I kept him awake for the next 30 hours (give or take).
I only saw it coming Wednesday morning, and by then it was too late.
And if I had seen it coming, what could I have done? If I had known that he would do this in our future I still would have stayed. Maybe I could have saved him forever, or for 10 years, or 1 year? Afterall I did manage to save him for one day. Even if I had seen it coming, how could I have stopped it? How could I have lifted all his pain?
One reason I want to tell my story is so that people know that suicide is real. I don't want another person to mistake suicide for a cry for help. Most importantly, I want to make sure that to all the other survivors of suicide out there stop blaming themselves for not being able to stop our loved one.
Together we can break the stigma of suicide.