Shattered Silence: Inside the head of a suicidal person

I would have wanted all of this to stop. Wouldn’t you?

A Message to Lovers of Gossip

Yes, having spent decades in the pursuit of good stories I understand that the tragedy that has befallen me, my family and friends really does have all the elements that would make a successful tell. As my old mentor used to say, our story is a “good get” — there is drama, intrigue and albeit horrifying, great visual imagery. How interesting it surely is to tell the story of how a young, handsome man in the prime of his life suddenly ends it in a public spectacle, and even better, that the reason for his decision was unbearable anguish and pain caused by a marriage gone south. It is the stuff movies are made of: Perhaps you’ve heard of the philandering husband caught by a heartbroken wife. Or perhaps you’ve heard of the strong-willed woman who cast her husband out because he refused to follow her every command. I am surprised at how many versions I’ve heard of the story. Well it is OUR STORY. He is OUR LOSS. It is WE who carry the burden this story has left us.And yes, I AM THAT WIFE.

To me this is not just a story but the reality I must face. I suppose I cannot blame those of you who speak out of ignorance, especially those who I am sure are full of good intentions and who in fact, grieve along with us. But I ask you please, if you know little more than the fact that Beau took his own life, then please do not even speculate on the reasons as to why he did it.

Unless you have grieved a death by suicide you have no idea of the anguish, guilt and the unending circle of questions that have no answers. Everyday I wake up wondering what it is I could have done to save him or what it is that I have done that pushed him to the edge. I question how it has come to this, searching for answers while also dealing with the loneliness and despair that comes with any death. Intermittently I deal with a crisis of faith — questioning the existence of God, the meaning of life, the truth of life after death. And for the minutes that I do not spend thinking of all of the above I wonder what purpose this serves in my life and in the path that is laid out for me.

Your unvalidated notions bring me shame and embarrassment. It burdens me with more questions. Would you like to be asking yourself if the blissful years of your married life were all make-believe? Would you like to be asking yourself what was so terrible about you that your husband would rather end his life than to spend a lifetime with you? Your ignorant gossip puts me on the defensive. I want to lash out and tell the world that our love was like no other. Indeed, what you do not know may not hurt you, but it does hurt me.

You have no idea how difficult it is to not understand what Beau meant when he spoke of a pain he cannot escape. You have no idea how painful it is to ask yourself over and over if you are the cause of his sadness.  You have no idea how much time I spent trying to understand an irrational anger directed towards me by a man who had done nothing else but love me so much.

You were not there when I cradled him in my arms while he cried like he had nothing else left to live for in this world.  You were not there to hear his confusion when he asked me why I thought he said hurtful things to me. You were not there to help me understand the chaos of his thoughts and his emotions while I struggled to keep my heart from falling apart.

To those who speak of our tragedy with little knowledge of truly what came to pass, I beg you to keep your silence. Stop talking about our marriage as if you knew how we loved each other. Please relieve me of the blame and guilt that I already torture myself with everyday.  If I who spent almost every waking hour with him until the last horrific months of his life cannot fathom the reasons behind his death then how can you?  You were not there to save him. My only request is that you shut up and allow me to save myself.

Random thoughts a few weeks after

Death may be universal but my losing you is intensely personal. No words can describe this pain that I am feeling. Perhaps, I understand now how unbearable it can be. For you not to be able to describe the torment in your soul, to be able to speak and yet know that there is no understanding. But knowing is not feeling. And speaking and writing has ceased to be enough to comfort me. There is finality in what you’ve done and yet for me there is still eternity left to run.

Guilt. Anger. Shame.
Grief. Sadness. Blame.
Nothing will ever be the same.

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It’s day one since I buried you babe but I see you everywhere. I am surrounded my your family and that gives me both comfort and pain. I see your face on your brothers’ faces and I hug them desperately, looking for an anchor to steady me through this. I now know what true sorrow means. I am angry that it had to be you that was taken, but thanful for the realization that the pain is so great because I had loved you so much.
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For three months I was unable to workout because everything reminded me of you. The last three weeks I felt I could never do it again. But tonight I ran 8 kms. I ran until my lungs felt like bursting because no physical pain could match the pain in my heart. I felt you in the wind pushing me forward. I felt you in the sky, stars shining brightly. I knew then you wanted me to live. And no matter how painful each step will be, living a future without you, I knew I must move on. We will run my love. I will make you proud.
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My friend Jake said something interesting this morning. He said that there is something about endurance sports that helps those who grieve. I believe it is the stillness… time to be alone and yet not alone. When pushed to our physical limits we have an acute awareness of our mortality. As I ran under the stars last night I felt like a speck under that vastness. How arrogant would I be to think that the world revolves around me, and that my pain is any different from those around me? It is humbling and yet comforting. To know for a fact that there must be something greater than myself. And yet no matter how human our physical limitations make us feel, there is also a feeling of transcendence. That once your body has breached what used to be impossible athletic agony, you know that yes you can overcome. And overcome we must.

A BEAUTIFUL SOUL

I have always wondered what I would say at a time like this. I’ve never believed in forever. But I never imagined this time would come so early – or that I’d be speaking about my husband.

Beau was 36. Way too young. Way too handsome. Way too healthy to suddenly be taken away from us in this way. In the weeks before his death he constantly talked about his passing. He asked repeatedly: What I would do if I were to never see him again or if the night we spent together would be our last? I told him I would grieve of course and be sad, but that he should not speak of such things. I would tell him how much he was valued and what joy he had brought to the world. I wanted Beau to realize how much love he had, how much he had to live for.

Just three weeks ago, I had asked him what legacy he would like to leave. Beau said he wanted to be remembered as a fun loving, happy person. He wanted to help people with their health and fitness. I told him it was a great goal and that he was on his way to achieving it, with his personal training certification on the way and our plans of building a weight loss camp. He wanted to be remembered as masayahin and matulungin sa kapwa. That is why I chose not to have a public viewing of his body because seeing him that way would not leave a happy image for all of us who love him.

In the beginning I had battled over what to say about his passing. Then I realized that I owed it to him to let everyone know of what must have been a long fought struggle – the suffering he was too macho to share with anyone else, except me.

He was actually selfless, not selfish. He refused to burden other people with his personal battle. Not even me. Though I begged and pleaded for him to allow me to fight it with him. In the last three months he became increasingly frustrated because he could not figure out what it was that was bothering him. He would lash out in anger at something that seemed trivial to everyone else. Then after a day or two a deep scorching sadness would overtake the anger and he would seek me out desperately searching for an answer, anything to explain the darkness and pain he felt.

He would tell me of this inexplicable pain, of feeling like a candle slowly melting away, of knowing he was powerless to stop it. Anything I said brought him to extreme bouts of anger or to his knees, crying, both of which broke my heart into a thousand pieces. It was through this struggle that we actually realized just how much we loved each other. When the peaks of pain and anguish plateaued, there was nothing else to say except that we loved each other.

We loved each other with a passion beyond rhyme and reason. So much so that when this illogical darkness began to creep into our lives I was bereft of understanding. How was I to know that just like our love, this too had neither rhyme nor reason. Despite all the pain I was going through during this trial of emotions, we had always been together. I am burdened by guilt that my human weakness had for a time driven us physically apart. But I needed to be strong for both of us and I know Beau understood. I had been asking him to come back to allow me to hold him through these dark times but he refused, believing he could deal with it himself. “You are not the problem” he would say, “I am”. “Do not try to understand me he said, because it pains me even more to see your frustration. I do not even understand myself.”

He said he could not deal with my tears, did not want me carrying any burden – especially not him.
What a joy it would have been to have him as my cross to bear in this life. But I suppose it would have been too easy. Only now that he is gone do I feel shrouded in the deepest Lenten sorrow.

People do not know this, but my Beau was a deeply spiritual man. Whenever I would go to mass during this period he would ask me to pray for him and for us and I would always assure him that I pray for him daily— for healing, for peace, for enlightenment and understanding, all of which I now am searching for myself. I am in anguish, trying to understand WHY and HOW, the countless MAYBES and WHAT IFs. This is how I know that my Beau was a brave man. If we were frustrated by our failure to understand that chaos of his emotions, how much more frustrating would it have been for him? To not understand why nothing makes sense, why you feel nothing but an intangible blackness driving you to the limits of your sanity.

I wish he had sought help. I wish we had done more, although what “more “is, we can only imagine now. We can think of a million things we should have done, think of a million things we shouldn’t have and never understand why it had come to this. Perhaps he was fighting demons strong beyond our understanding. Perhaps it was some rogue chemical in his body left unchecked. Perhaps what was afflicting him was an illness not unlike a cancer that spread too quickly. Whatever it was, it was something beyond our control and definitely and sadly beyond Beau’s. To this day all those who love him struggle to find an answer. And while the pieces have already begun to fit, and our mental anguish is soothed somewhat, it does nothing to fill the hole in my heart that his passing has left behind.

He told me last week that he was sorry he couldn’t be the same person who married me three years ago. He was right. The man I married would have stopped to smell the roses. He would have thanked God for blessings received. He would have realized just how loved he was,not only by me but by family and friends. The man I married would never have felt alone. The man who was defeated by depression is not the man I married. But the physical body is but a home for his soul and what a beautiful soul he is.

He was a soul made happy by simple joys. The feeling of freedom when the wind would cross his face while climbing his beloved limestone crags. The adrenaline rush of finishing a marathon. The determination that fueled him whenever he set his mind to do something.

He loved life. Had he not been struck blind by this depression he would have been with us traveling to new places or finding beauty in places already seen and re-discovered. We will never forget how he loved to dance “out of tune” or how he struggled to sing a duet with me when the only line he had to sing was “turn around”. We will never forget the cheesy jokes that he loved to repeat over and over. We will always remember how he loved to tease our nieces, playing the cool uncle that made their poor parents look dated and boring in comparison. I will never forget the way he felt in my arms and the tender way he took care of me before all of this madness began.

What a beautiful soul my Beau was. Housed in a beautiful body with a beautiful face. Perhaps this is the complete freedom you wanted, my love. Rest your weariness and then fly… Fly to places you only used to imagine. Explore the nooks and crannies your mortal self had not been able to see. And most of all be at peace knowing we who were left behind would continue the dreams and hopes that were denied you in life.

While it cannot be helped, I know it is useless to dwell on the reasons why you are no longer with us today. I would rather make sure that you live on as we continue life for you. It is just fitting that we look to you for motivation as we did when you were alive. To those who loved and cherished him and for those who love me, now is when I ask for your help.

The climbing community will make sure our passion is kept alive for years to come. Your brothers and cousins will continue to train for the marathon they wanted to run with you, although perhaps at a pace closer to mine than yours. They have committed to continue the run in your honor and I will get many more to join us in tribute to what you had dreamt of achieving. To inspire people. You were such an athlete and you inspired so many people to believe that they can reach greater heights and exceed their limits. A student of yours and dear friend said you had made her believe in herself at a time when she had lost all hope. So much you had given and it pains me that you were defeated this way when you still have so much more to offer.

If my physical body will permit, I will endeavor to finish your greatest dream. You know how much I hate running. And how I cannot negotiate a turn on the bike. And how afraid I am of open water. But I commit to attempt to finish an ironman in your honor, if not next year then the year after that because I knew you had set this as a goal for yourself. I invite any of our friends and family who would like to join and support me in this quest to train with me and bring his dream to fruition.

You will continue to live in us and in our hearts. No matter where my life brings me, you will always be my Beau. The last time I saw you I mouthed through the window of the car: Promise me you will come back to me. And you nodded with a hollow stare. I know we will meet again. I love you and I will never truly say goodbye.

Thank you for all of those who share our loss and who are praying for Beau and our family. Please continue to be there for we will surely need your support in the difficult months to come when his loss would be truly apparent.