Dad: I hope you have a good day. I love you.
Me: I love you too.
I remember texting mom saying something was up. Dad never texted me and told me he loved me, not first anyway. And if he did, he never spelled it out. He usually just put “Ly2.” At lunch (it was my senior year of high school) I remember just cracking up about it with all of my friends and making jokes and basically dissing my dad. I didn’t really know if I was worried, excited or what. It was just weird and different-out of the ordinary and not normal.
I went about the rest of my day like any other day.
That night, I was going to dinner with a friend and her son. Mom had called me and asked where I was and told me that I needed to come to my grandma and papa’s house that Mike and Jennifer were there (my dad’s sister and her husband). I don’t know why I didn’t think anything of that at the time. Probably because I was high and when I was with Her nothing else mattered-not even my own family (hate to even say that now).
When I finally got around to getting to my grandparent’s house, as soon as I walked in I knew something was wrong. The tension and hurt was overwhelming. I don’t exactly remember how mom started to break the news but I think it was something like, “I need to tell you something” or “something has happened.” Before she was even able to actually tell me what happened I, somehow, already knew. I was screaming, “tell me, no don’t. Tell me, no, don’t” just over and over again. I wanted her to just tell me but at the same time, if she didn’t utter the words, it couldn’t be true, right?
When she was finally able to muster in a, “Your dad killed himself” between my screaming of tell me don’t tell me, I lost it. I took off running down the driveway to get in my car. My first reaction was to drive to his girlfriend’s house. I wanted to kill her. This was all her fault from my perspective.
Next thing I know, I’m being tackled by my brother. Thank God he did because if he hadn’t and I had made it to that woman’s house, I’m not 100% sure what would’ve happened. It probably wouldn’t have been good though.
The next few days were blurry.
The funeral arrangements were awkward. My dad’s parents were finally in the same room together, which was all he ever wanted. And who knew the last time that actually happened. They wouldn’t even come to things at our house if the other one was coming. But that’s beside the point. The girlfriend (who had just kicked him out prior to him killing himself) was there like nothing had gone south with them, claiming to be his fiancé. All of them-my dad’s parents, his dad’s wife, and his gf/ex-girlfriend/fiancé-were sitting at the front with the guy making the arrangements. Then me, mom and Jamie were sort of in the corner and then my aunt, uncle and cousin were against the wall. When they asked for dad’s social security number nobody knew it. From the corner, mom just as plain as day sounded it off like it was nothing. Everybody turned around and looked at her like she was crazy. “I was married to him for seventeen years. I was the only wife he ever had,” she said.
The visitation was weird. Jamie and I were standing near the coffin with mom in between us. His parents next to us, then his girlfriend and her two kids at the beginning of the line. People coming through shaking our hands definitely got a redneck visitation. Neighbors of my dad’s and his girlfriend would get to mom, Jamie and I and would say something like, “we were neighbors of Mike and Sharon.” Mom would say, “Oh. Well, I’m the only wife he ever had and these are his two children.”
It was weird how separate his life from us was. His neighbors didn’t know us. Mutual friends that him and Sharon had didn’t know us. A lot of those people probably didn’t even realize he had kids until the visitation or funeral.
The funeral was like sitting through a funeral of somebody you didn’t even know. Of course I knew I was at my dad’s funeral but when people got up there to talk about him, it wasn’t the man I grew up with or knew.
The whole situation was surreal and I just became numb and more numb. This is when the downward spiral in my life really started to take a spin. Things definitely got worse from here before they got better.
Dear Lord, Oh how I didn’t understand why this had to happen to ME, in MY life. I didn’t see You amidst this tragedy as I was living through it. I was mad at You. I couldn’t understand how You could’ve let this happen. If You are in control, how could You let my dad kill himself? I wrestled with so many questions. And still, I don’t have the answers to some of them and probably never will this side of eternity. I ran from You. I ran to anything and everything but You. But, I’m so thankful that I eventually found my way back to You. I’m grateful that Your love never fails and nothing I do could ever separate me from You. I’ve learned that doubts and questions are ok. You don’t shame me for those. I pray that as hardships come my way, I give my burdens to You so that I can rest my weary should in Thee. In Your name I pray, Amen!