For many that have been left behind, suicide is the beginning of self-recrimination. It is the beginning of self-doubt and self-blame, the beginning of anger and feeling shame at being angry. Suicide is the beginning of a profound grief with never-to-be-answered questions. I know this because when I first met my husband and told him I have bipolar disorder, he said “My best friend had that.” His use of the past tense and the small hitch in his voice told me everything I needed to know.
The end of despair was what I thought suicide would be. Less than a year ago, my planning began. For months I planned every detail, refining and perfecting until it seemed the “best” way for all concerned. Thoughts of my beautiful grandchildren, my daughters, my husband, my family, and my friends had no room to flourish in the inky darkness that had consumed my brain. My body was filled with real pain, centering in actual heartache. I just wanted a lifetime of fighting this pain and despair to end.
And then I was in the woods, barefoot, shivering, doubled over with that unbearable pain, and my husband’s arms wrapped around me. All he said was “I love you,” no matter how many times I begged him to let me go. He helped me back to the house, holding me up when my knees would start to buckle. He gently washed the mud off of my feet, lay down next to me in bed, not letting go until my sobs faded into sleep.
In the years that we’ve been together, I’ve often wondered if falling in love with me was a second beginning for him. Was it a beginning of fear and worry? All the times he says “When I look back, I should have known;” “I should have been there;” “I should have stopped him;” I wonder if he applies those things to me. Does he try to end his past grief by finding a way to avoid another beginning of his pain? Over the past few months he’s returned my medications and the blades I use for slashing bread. To me, that shows a beginning to a hopeful end.