Some days my heart allows me to dream. He’s still out there somewhere. Maybe in Idaho or Montana or Arizona - somewhere alone with his demons, but liberated from his guilt that they were also haunting others - the ones he loved. Alone, maybe thinking of us, free in his suffering - if not of it.
My brain knows better than my heart, but often in April - even before my brain realizes it’s April - my heart can sneak up and insert this vision. His birth month. His death month. A beautiful day. A big sky. A beautifully unsettling storm. An image of my Dad in some big country, feeling as small as he needs to, expanding as large as the day will let him.
I’ve said to many who knew my Dad that he probably should have lived life as a drifter, someone alone, detached, and free to move on when he needed to wrestle with or run from his demons of Depression, sexual abuse, and religious shame and guilt. I tell them that his choice to settle down with a family, in a place, to build a neighborhood was the hardest personal path he could have taken. But, he took it - until he couldn’t anymore.
He committed suicide on April 27, 2006 - a day before his 62nd birthday.
Suicide was the only way he could silence his demons. He was tired. He felt old. He had M.S. I sat with him, wringing his hands, scrubbing them, staring hollowly and telling me how awful he was, sobbing, un-human, not my Dad. He believed deeply that he was the worst thing that had ever happened to his family, to me. “I love you all, but I hate myself.” His final words scripted in his elegantly violent handwriting.
I don’t know if my heart’s dream actually makes me happy. I don’t know if I find it comforting. It just appears in April. I guess for a fleeting moment it makes me feel slightly less alone - a selfish indulgence. But, quickly, I’m glad he’s no longer suffering. I’m glad he’s not here - not even out there. The contradictions of living with suicide.
Some days my heart allows me to dream, and for a moment the world is different - slightly warmer, a little bigger, but not necessarily better.