“I am calling to say goodbye. I am not coming home. Tell the kids I love them”
I thought it was a joke. A sick joke, but a joke all the same. How could my husband, a man who adored me and our two young kids, be leaving? Where was he going?
“What?” I sputtered.
“I am driving off a cliff.” He said matter-of-factly.
Now I knew it was a twisted joke.
“I am a failure. I am worthless. You and the kids are better off without me.” As he spewed negative annotations about himself my brain was whirling, trying to make sense of it all.
“What are you talking about? None of those things are true!”
He had just learned he failed his second semester of nursing school. He couldn’t bare the thought of anyone thinking he was a failure. In his mind it was better to end it then to face reality.
He couldn’t bare the thought of anyone finding out he failed nursing school.
“What are you talking about? You didn’t fail nursing school you failed a semester. People do that all the time. You just have to retake the semester.”
But reason wasn’t getting through to him. He was determined he wasn’t coming home.
I tried rationalizing with him. I begged and pleaded with him. I cried to him. Nothing was getting through. He was headed for the cliff and it was coming up quickly.
I finally started screaming through the phone,
“You can’t leave me with two kids to raise on my own! They need you! I need you!”
“Goodbye. I love you.”
“Kiss the kids for me.”
I lost all sense of reserve. “You are so SELFISH! You are going to give up everything over FAILING A SEMESTER?! What about your kids? What about me?”
For whatever reason my losing it and screaming through the phone got through to him when nothing else had. He pulled over, stopped the car, and let me talk him, quite literally, off the ledge.
We made a plan for him to change campuses since he couldn’t bare the thought of seeing his fellow classmates, and them knowing he had failed. We would tell our friends and family he switched campuses so he could take summer semester to “graduate early.” I would work overtime at the hospital so he could quit working to focus on studying. No one had to know…
It was a great plan. He came home, we went on living our happy life as if nothing happened. And we never talked about it again. I thought that solved it. How was I to know that wasn’t the first, nor the last time he thought about suicide. How was I to know one day he would follow through…
What does someone who is suicidal look like?
They look like you and me.
Shouldn’t we know when a co-worker, a friend, and especially a loved one is thinking of harming themselves? Shouldn’t we be able to see the warning signs? Shouldn’t we be able to stop it?
With the recent awareness surrounding suicide in the news after two well known celebrities both made the decision they, and the world were better off without them in it, I have decided to open up a piece of my heart that I have kept under lock and key, to protect my children, to protect the memory of their father, and to protect my heart. I have finally healed to the point where I am able to share this sacred piece of my (heart and) soul. Bringing stories like these to light will help others to see the warning signs. I hope me sharing my story, will empower you to share yours.