In 2004, I was pregnant with my daughter and at a job I enjoyed with a morally corrupt boss that I hated.
But I was fine.
When I was 32 weeks pregnant, my father came for a visit. Dad lived two hours away from me, so having him show up suddenly for a visit wasn’t unusual. In fact, I loved it. I’d wake up to the smells of breakfast cooking, coffee brewing, and my Dad whistling happily to himself as he took over as caretaker in my house.
There was something very comforting about my Dad’s presence in my house. My father was a six-foot tall and solid man. So when he hugged me, he enveloped me. The feel of his embrace, the scent of his cologne, the unmistakable him-ness, could give me strength and faith that no matter what, I would always be okay.
My father loved me. My father was my friend. My father was a fabulous grandfather to his grandson. My father was my foundation. My rock. My stability.
And that morning, my father showed up and made breakfast. Blueberry muffins. He spent the morning talking to my son and I. He helped my son tie his shoes for school. I could hear them laughing and talking and whispering to each other as Dad helped his grandson fix his hair for school.
When it was time to leave, my son did not want to go. He wanted to stay home and spend the day with his grandpa. I remember saying to my son, “Come on, I’m taking you to school. Grandpa will be here when you get home.”
My son hugged his Grandpa goodbye. His grandpa told him he loved him. He told his Grandson to have a great day.
I told my Dad I’d be back in about an hour; I needed to stop at the store before I came home. My Dad told me to be careful. He kissed me on my forehead and told me, “I really love you, kid. I’m glad I came to see you.”
As I drove out of the driveway, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my Dad taking out my trash and for one moment; one tiny moment, I thought to myself, “Maybe I can let my kid skip one day of school. We could all just spend a nice day together.”
But, my son had a spelling test, and his gifted class that day and I didn’t think he should miss those. I looked at my father in that mirror and I felt so good that he was there. I was so glad to have my father show up that week.
I remember thinking, “Time with Dad is just what I need.”
It was early spring here. The morning was slightly chilly but the sun was shining brightly. The day was bright with promise. After dropping off my son and a quick stop at the store, I headed home.
I got out of the car and grabbed my few bags of groceries and went into the house. At 32 weeks pregnant, I had an awkward sense of balance, but I managed to get to the door in spite of the dog and that’s when I thought, “What’s the dog doing outside? She doesn’t stay outside by herself.”
Much of what happened that day after that is burned into my brain and I will never, ever forget it. Some things are gray and fuzzy and lost to the haze of my grief and I’ll never remember them.
What I do know is that my world, my foundation, my entire sense of who I am was taken away in one moment by the one person who was supposed to keep me from ever feeling like that.
I’m doing okay with it.
So why am I telling you this story?
Because suicide is bullshit. And it’s aftereffects last a lifetime. In our case? Two lifetimes. It’s shaped who I am today and who my son is as well.
Because if there is anyone here reading this who thinks that suicide will end pain needs to know that it causes a lifetime of pain. Pain, confusion and hurt.
Because no one wants to talk about it.
When someone loses a parent to an illness, an accident or at someone else’s hand? People are there for them. They listen to them. They commiserate. They form a support for them that is so goddamn necessary to heal. Not so when someone you love takes their own life.
Suicide is a topic that no one wants to be connected to.
People don’t want to talk about it. They can’t hear about it. They don’t want to comfort you because they don’t know how. It’s not something that they want to believe can happen to you. They don’t know what to say. They don’t have the answers either, and that makes it difficult for them. It’s because of this that my father’s suicide has made me the loneliest I have ever been.
I’ve been isolated in so many ways because of it. So isolated that I don’t know if I will ever not feel like I’m separated from everyone else again.
I could sit here and tell you all the ways this has changed me. All the ways I am stronger. All the ways I am scarred. About crying in absolute emotional pain and just wanting my dad when just a few weeks later, I gave birth to my daughter. About all the irrational fears I have. Someday, I may tell you about all of it.
Today, I want to show you that my Dad was a real person, just as I am. I love him today just as I always have.
The day my son was born, my dad wasn’t able to be there. I can’t remember why. I believe my dad was cooing to him. But the obvious joy at having that boy makes this photo one of my most treasured memories. I wanted you to see it.
My Dad was a real person. He existed.
Today, I tell you about my Dad because this community is amazing. I read your stories and I am humbled by your courage, your tenacity and your amazing support for each other.
I’m so proud to be a part of this project, even in a small way. I’m so proud of every person who has posted and who has commented. I’m so proud to know that this community exists.
You have no idea how much you would have helped me in 2004, but I do.
I tell you my story because you’ve told me all of your stories. Your stories, in your voices, about your experiences have made me feel like people don’t suck as much as I thought.
I need you to know that if you have lost someone to suicide that it’s time we start talking about it and making it okay to talk about it.
I need you to know that if you are thinking about killing yourself, my story is a very good example of what you will leave behind. By killing yourself, you will have caused more pain than you can imagine. Pain that will never go away. Please, please, don’t do this to everyone in your family. Don’t do this to your parents, children, and friends.
I need you to know that for six years, I’ve stopped believing that anyone would love me more than they love themselves. I don’t know that I’ll ever believe that again.
I need you to know that I am sharing my story because I trust you.
Thank you all for inspiring me.
Thank you for making BB2G the community what it is today.
Thank you for being here.
If you are feeling desperate, alone or helpless, or know someone who is call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Here is the Band Back Together Suicide Prevention Resource Page