My husband and I have been together for almost 14 years. I thought I thought I knew him inside and out. Two children, a house, dogs, and cats-we had it all. That’s why when he told me in the spring of 2022 that he was suicidal, I was shocked. We had everything, why was he not happy? I would soon realize, that it was not simply that he “didn’t want to be alive.” It was so much more. The residual pain from his third back surgery made living life everyday almost unbearable. I know a suicide is extremely difficult for everyone involved, however when it happens, most of the focus- and rightfully so-goes to the person who made the attempt. But what about the families? The spouses, the children, the parents of said person? It is so hard for everyone involved, and I am going to let you in on my experience, so maybe someone will read it and not feel so alone.
Time Stands Still
August 4th, 2022. I walked out to the garage to find my husband, barely conscious with a wrinkled piece of white paper sitting next to him. “Marylynn, I am sorry that I hurt you…” My heart sank. I knew this was coming, the feeling gnawed at me in the back of my mind, but I had convinced myself everything was fine. How could everything be “fine?” He had been in pain for so long, three failed back surgeries and he could barely move. He had spent the last six weeks sitting in a zero-gravity chair, unable to walk, to move, to play with our children, to live. Of course he was not “fine.”
Everything from this point on feels like a blur, but I can still remember every detail, although sometimes I wish that I could forget. I remember the smell of the garage, musty sawdust, still leftover from the dining room table I had redone the winter before with him. We had had such a fun time making over our kitchen together. I wish we could go back. I searched frantically to find a bottle so I could tell the paramedics what he had taken, the cold metal of my phone in my shaking palm as I dialed 911. Pacing at the end of my driveway, willing the ambulance to pull up to the house, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. As the paramedics pulled up, finally, after what had seemed like an eternity, I handed them an empty bottle of muscle relaxers I had finally found. I would later find out that he had actually crushed up two bottles and put them in a Bud Light. My idea to put a mini fridge in the garage briefly crossed my mind as he later described it to me. I tried to help the EMTs get him up, yelling at him to wake up and stay with me. Panic and anger filled my chest. This was not happening. This was not real. This could not be my life. I closed my eyes and tried not to scream.
The days that followed were filled with tears. Tears of rage, of sadness and hopelessness, wishing the garage would just burn to the ground, as if that would somehow fix everything. I tried to convince myself that this was all just a bad dream, I would soon wake up and he would be lying next to me, and all would be well. Keeping life somewhat normal for our girls was the hardest part. Trying to stay strong when you just want to fall apart and stay in bed for days, weeks, forever is agonizing. I remember feeling weirdly proud of myself for being able to handle a situation like this with such strength. I wanted to die, but I also felt like a badass. I now know that I can handle anything and come out stronger than before.
To say that night was “life-changing” for me is an understatement. It made me realize how fragile time is, and how cruel life can be. As cliché as it sounds, I try to slow down, not take anything for granted and really take the time to notice and enjoy even the smallest of things.