Sunday, October 25, 2009

Writ in remembrance more than things long past.

Friday would have been my ex-husband’s 62nd birthday. Sadly, we lost him to depression almost 4 years ago. He chose to end his own life and my children and I still wonder what triggered him that day to decide he couldn’t handle it anymore. He had faced many adversities in life, what was the one that pushed him to his limit?

I met him when I was 18 and he was 24—we married 2 years later. Our artistic natures added to the initial attraction [he was a photographer]. But it was his generosity of spirit and strength of character that sealed the deal for me. And my instincts were right; he was a great father and a good husband. In spite of having scoliosis and having undergone a double spinal fusion in his teens, he taught our son how to play ball—and later how to surf. Even though he was in pain many days, he rarely complained and was at all of the recitals and school functions—cheering his kids on and taking photos. This continued with our grandson as well.

But something went wrong. The last six years of our marriage were very difficult as I tried to help him cope with major job challenges, alcohol problems and increasing depression. When it became clear that all of this was having a severe adverse effect on my own health, I had to get out. And I hated admitting defeat, as it were. I kept telling myself “He’s sick, you wouldn’t leave if he had cancer.” But I realize now, that nothing I did could have helped him if he wasn’t willing to help himself. And that is so sad. I miss the man he was before the illness took over.

So we were estranged at the time of his death—and I had a lot of guilt about not having made an attempt to forge a new type of relationship. I would ask our children about him all the time and they would tell me what was going on. And my grandson talked about visiting his “Pop.” Now I think my daughter and son may have glossed over some things—not to protect me, to protect their dad.

One thing our family has decided to do is to be open about the struggle—in the hopes of helping others understand. And ourselves as well. It never gets any easier, it just gets a tad more tolerable each year. I can recommend a wonderful book to anyone dealing with the issue. It’s called THE SUICIDE INDEX and it was written by Joan Wickersham oer the course of 15 years following her father’s suicide.

Sorry if I’ve bummed anyone out, but I needed to get my feelings out somehow. We miss him, but we know his pain is over now.

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