He came in like a tsunami. From the surface he was admirably placid. Beautiful in his movements, his ability to roll along unaffected, the vastness of his strength. He pulled all of me in with him to ride the last swell before he came ashore and drowned me in his darkness. The depth and the power of what was swirling under the surface rose up, filled every inch of space and all the light was extinguished. His final sweep of everything that stood in his path was fatal and final. As he retreated back from whence he came, he left a path of destruction that was beyond anything I ever could have fathomed. The anticipation of a beautiful adventure tainted by a rupture in the lowest layer, causing a breathtaking rise of something to seemingly perfect and calm that brought death and destruction into every crevice of my being, leaving me with the task of cleaning up a mess that was made virtually impossible by the injuries I had sustained from being thrown into the eye of his storm.
He was gone. And there I was, standing over him, getting an insider’s view of how much pain he had been in. All of the pain was on the outside now, represented by his oddly crumpled body, his forehead on the ground in a position of hauntingly grateful penitence, the 45 caliber big-game rifle that was left leaning between the nightstand and the bed, his own fingerprints on the trigger.
His darkness was still lurking over him when I walked into the bedroom that night, hovering over the body that had so recently freed itself of this parasite. When I opened the bedroom door and stepped into the room, I unwittingly became the new and perfect host for the darkness that had lived inside of him for so long. It sensed my naivety, my ridiculous idealism, and quickly swooped in and took over my world as I put the picture in front of me together and realized that my husband, my best friend, my missing piece, the man with whom I had taken vows, now lay dead on our bedroom floor.
I stood there in paralyzed silence, six feet away from him, slowly piecing everything together. His body position, the placement of his bare feet, the lay of his hands, his dark gray shirt I had watched him roll over his shoulders that morning, his gray shorts, the rifle, the hole in the ceiling above where he laid. It could have been 30 seconds that I stood there, it could have been three hours. I don’t know. I called his name, knowing that he too, along with his parasitic pain, had exited his body and that he was no longer inside of the desperate and empty shell I was staring at. I didn’t expect him to respond. I don’t know what I expected.
I didn’t take a step closer to him. Somewhere in my mind I knew I had seen too much and getting any closer to him would only have made it worse. I had seen more of him in that moment than he had ever shown me while we were together. I believe I saw more of him in that moment than he ever would have shown me had we been together forever like I had planned. I turned and ran out of the door from which I had entered into that alternate reality. At that very moment, I was no longer myself. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know anything.
They say that right before you die your whole life flashes in front of your eyes. I can honestly say that even though I didn’t physically die, everything I was prior to finding my husband dead on our floor died a sudden and traumatic death in the few seconds it took me to traverse the 25 feet between our bedroom and the front door. Every minute of my life that led up to that moment flashed in front of my eyes. A movie reel of pain and pleasure culminating in the proverbial death of its main heroine. The pain that transferred from him to me that night now sat in the director’s chair, smirking, reveling in it’s new position of power, re-blocking the scene at hand, motion by single motion. By the time I was standing outside with my phone in my hand to call the police, the person I had been was dead and gone with him. In place of her was his dark, black, writhing pain that didn’t die with him but just found a new home inside of me, making itself comfortable knowing that I would serve as a steady and faithful servant for a very long time, if not a lifetime.
That’s the thing about suicide. It doesn’t take away or kill the pain. Yes, the person who dies is free of this pain (we hope) but the pain doesn’t disappear or die. It is only transferred to the people who surround their deceased loved one. The closer to the fire, the harsher the burns. And I stood at the center of the pyre, next to my husband, taking the brunt of it in the early hours of the morning that I found his body, broken, as I had become.