This isn’t some great piece of poetic prose. It is a raw accounting of the text I received last night and the emotions it forced from the safety of the corners where I keep them. I am physically ill. The tsunami of tears has been unleashed. I am sickened by how humans treat one another.
Last night his sister texted me out of the blue. I hadn’t heard from her since the funeral where, I was told many weeks later, that she had been talking shit about me to everyone there the whole time. This wasn’t a surprise. His relationship with his family was tenuous at best, toxic at worst. I thought I had her blocked, but turns out I didn’t. So, I was preparing to call it a night at the ripe time of approximately 8 O’clock when I get a text from this person asking for the wind chimes that were sent to the funeral home. She said they were meant for her and she forgot to grab them.
Sigh. So many feelings about that message. Perhaps I am over-reacting. Perhaps her question was, in fact, reasonable. But to me, it felt so far from the norms of decorum, etiquette, and basic human decency, that it took me some time to stop shaking so I could begin to craft my response.
My initial reactive response was to ask her if she’s fucking kidding. But that was quickly deleted in favor of a more measured response in which I reminded her that it is customary for the funeral director to give anything sent to the funeral home, to the person organizing and paying for the funeral, and that funeral directors are not parcel delivery services. They don’t distribute gifts to family members during a funeral. Anything sent is displayed, then packaged up and delivered to, or picked up by, the person who paid for the funeral. That person is usually the next of kin so it is assumed that any gifts are intended to go to that person. His sister didn’t like my response and to express her dissatisfaction, the tirade of texts telling me she hopes I die a painful horrible death and she hopes satan licks my burning skin while I’m rotting in hell began. This is why, perhaps, I am so reluctant to leave the safety of my garden. This is why, perhaps, my aversion to leaving the house is so strong. This is why, perhaps, I haven’t yet found the courage to really open the footlocker that holds his most cherished items.
The world is full of people who blame me for a man’s death and who, even worse, wish that the devil himself will lick my burning flesh as I rot in hell. That is not a world where it is safe to leave a garden. The circumstances surrounding my husband’s death are complicated. He wasn’t well. In the end, he wasn’t himself. That fact seems self-evident to me since anyone who makes the choice to pick up a gun, point it at their head and pull the trigger, is not well. So far you know the tragic event that brought me to this page. You know that my husband killed himself and that life is forever changed. But, as tragic and horrific as that one event may seem, the story that is woven into the seams and which led to this event, have so far not been shared. I loved my husband and he loved me when he was well or on the road to coming back to well. In the times when he wasn’t well, life was complicated and hard. He sought comfort in people who were toxic. Choosing to love him through that was a decision I had to make every single day. In the end, he was so unbalanced that I had to take a protective order out against him. He was living with a roommate down the road when he died. But, in the four weeks leading up to his death he started coming back around. He saw, for a brief moment, the life that was his and that brought him happiness. He wanted to come home. He wanted to get better. Cautiously, I agreed, although I had to set strict boundaries and expectations. He was so happy during those days and then one day, out of the blue, it all changed again. But I have been through this before. I knew the mood swings and the volatility so I gave him his space. Then the police showed up at my door and everything, in an instant, forever changed. Betrayals and lies and double lives were revealed. I saw the truth of the darkness of the world he had immersed himself in. I saw the toxic people he had surrounded himself with. But also I knew from conversations we had before he died that he wanted to get away from all of that. I just didn’t know the full truth of the life he was living.
My husband killed himself. That is tragic. Then the rest of the story was revealed. Wrap that tragedy in layers of crumpled up complicated secrets and betrayals and dishonest, manipulative people and somewhere in the middle of all of that lies the truth. That is the truth of what I have been living for the past 138 days. Add to that an entire group of people who send me texts telling me they hope I die a horrible painful death and that my husband didn’t love me, and he killed himself so he could get as far away from me as possible, and you have a very dark, twisted tragedy ripped from the pages of some sort of poorly written novel about love, lust and crime.
Truly I don’t care what anyone thinks of me or how they characterize my relationship with my husband. They weren’t around for most of his life. They didn’t know the demons he carried. They weren’t the ones here when he crouched in the woods out back in the dark ready to attack an enemy who he thought was me because he forgot he’s no longer at war. They weren’t in the seat next to him when he thought every car behind him was following us so we had to take three detours to “throw them off”. They didn’t live in a house where the manner of how a door was closed told you how bad or good the day would be. They weren’t the ones forgiving the lies and betrayals. They weren’t the ones protecting him from the users and manipulators. They were the ones talking shit about him and blaming me for the fact that he had trouble being around other people. They were the ones calling me one hour after he died to ask who gets the benefits and did he have a will.
I cannot find a space that allows me to find my footing and step confidently from a place where I am grounded and feel safe in the world because there is an army of people wishing I die a horrible death. This sounds like self pity. It is not. It’s the truth. Still, I go out into the world, I mingle with people, I log into work, I smile at the cashier and talk about her day. I go to my appointments and I live in this world but I know that in the corners lie the dark secrets people keep, and it sucks.