Five years ago, you carefully planned your exit from this earth.
You threw out most of your photos and belongings, and sent me a letter two days before your death.
I read in the police report that you took some stereo wire and attached it to a kitchen cupboard, climbed up on the counter, and wrapped the cord around your neck. Then, you leaned forward, creating a noose with the wire until you took your last breath.
Although this was your plan and your suicide, you weren’t entirely alone on that kitchen counter.
I was there too, thanks to the picture you left me with.
That is the image burned forever in my mind. Sometimes at night, or in the morning, or afternoon, I see your face—lifeless, blue and then colorless. That is the picture I will have etched in my brain until the day I die.
If that weren’t enough, on the day I found out you died, I found your goodbye note in my mailbox. It was written on yellow steno paper, two pages long.
You talked about some things in that letter that I can’t erase from my mind.
Growing up, you were never a very affectionate father. You moved out when I was 10 after the divorce, so you quickly became a weekend dad. You rarely hugged me or kissed me or complimented me, but I accepted it.
In your final words to me, though, you told me you were proud of me—that I was a good daughter and mother.
That you loved me.
I wept reading those words, because I don’t think I had ever heard them when you were alive. I’m glad you wrote me a goodbye letter, but you had to realize how one-sided it was.
You got the last word, telling me how you felt, and I was left to just read and absorb them.
I couldn’t reply or respond. I just sat there staring at the words, sobbing. Sobbing for what could have been but never was. Thinking how nice it would’ve been to have heard those words in person, and how that would never happen.
Why don’t our friends and loved ones tell us how they feel now?
What’s the hold up?
With suicide, you don’t get a re-do, it’s just lights out—poof—finis. No goodbye, thanks a lot, nice to know ya, I love you—nothing. Those who commit suicide are not alone in the practice of waiting too long—it’s a rampant trend, it seems, with all of us focused on ourselves, social media, and our iPhones rather than interacting with real live human beings.
If there’s something we want to tell someone or should tell someone, we should do it—so that they hear it and know it, and they don’t have to wonder about it.
It’s taken me five years to respond, Dad, but I’m finally doing it.
I’m not sure if you can hear me now. I’m guessing not.
No matter, though. It was time for me to say these words to you: why did you wait till you were dead to tell me I was good? That I was okay? That I was loved? I will never know the answer to those questions, Dad.
It just makes me sad that we had this heart-to-heart conversation, and I wasn’t even there for it. Thank you for telling me, though. Better late than never.
Author: Laura Hipshire
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: William Wootton/ Flickr