You’ve been gone for less than a day now. All day long, I’ve been turning my thoughts and feelings over and over again, as if they were colored pencils that if arranged just right, could lead me to some clarity. I’ve gotten nowhere. I’m in pain. That’s your damn legacy.
I barely knew you and I didn’t feel comfortable around you. The first time I met you in our online group, it was after someone told me you scared them. See, I’m an admin, so I am responsible for fixing things that don’t go well. I was on-call that night. You screamed, “Fuck you!!!” So I cautioned you against cussing at people. It was what I had to do, Frank.
Guilty? I twirled my guilt around and knew it was not true, but I felt it all day nonetheless. I know I did the right thing, but no one knows that I walked away after that because your darkness scared me. Sickened me. When I saw your name pop up, I felt like a black widow was about to bite me, so I ran. I ran.
Tempted to hurt myself? Of course. When someone takes their life, it feels familiar, like the smell of a cigarette wafting through the summer air, and I would reach for it, until I remember that I am stronger than that. It’s not simple though. At one point today, I tried to tell my husband how much I was hurting, but he had a really bad day today too, and for an instant, the pain roared so loud that I felt like the only way I could make it stop was to hurt myself. It was too loud, and I needed peace.
I did not. I will not Frank. I reject your death as a beacon or a guidepost. When the pain and the guilt and the sadness sing too dissonant of a melody inside me, I search for the brightest light I can find, and I murmur a prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and I pray, Frank, I pray that He will watch over me. And he does.
Angry? All day. We only knew you for a little while. Do you know what your daughter said to us? When one of us told her that you said you loved your daughter? You know what she said Frank? “No, he meant his real daughter. She was very important to him. I’m just his stepdaughter.” Right. So you couldn’t treat the people you left behind with compassion the last time you spoke to them or about them.
I am not supposed to write this note. I’m supposed to rise above it and express my condolences to your family, but I can’t do that. I can’t be the responsible one tonight. I lost my chance to be responsible when I walked past my computer at 1:36 a.m. last night, and because my hands were shaking from my seizure medications, I did not check in one last time to see if you were okay. Instead, I crawled into bed beside my husband and I held him really tight and slept beside him–the man I love.
I don’t know where you are or even what form you take. Is your soul somewhere better, with a cold breeze blowing in from the trees overlooking a dark blue lake? Is it floating, higher and higher, like an out-of-control balloon released from a small child’s hand? Or did your troubled soul pass into an empty space, caught between being and not being, swirling, lost and still searching for a place to land?
I have no answers tonight Frank. My mind is no closer to finding a point to all of this than you were to finding peace of mind. I suppose we all must say farewell one day.
To those of you who read this, I pray that your final day does not come for a long time. I pray that when you must go, you fight like hell right up until the final moment, but that when you take your final breath, you breathe in hope for something better.
Fare thee well Frank. Fare thee well.