Updated: May 12, 2020
I was in my second 7 days to Soul challenge with a favorite Instagram friend. I was learning how to put myself first. I was unearthing this woman who was buried long ago. I was figuring out who I am without my daily companion, partner, best friend, and co-parent of 17 years. I was making plans, goals, and venturing into my new world. Part of this challenge was to journal first thing in the morning. More of a brain dump of sorts. Some mornings it would happen, but most days was just a miracle if I got showered, dressed, and in the car with my two kids and only being "sort of late" for work. So the brain dump journaling became a part of my curriculum with my students. I thought, if it is good for adults, it must also be good for kids too. We all need to get our ideas, messy thoughts, lists, drawings, and all the feelings out on the page.
I started what became a daily ritual with my students. We would either read around the room independently or write in our journals. Both tasks were not graded, they were not going to be judged, they were only for the purpose of enjoyment and growth. It had become our favorite part of the day.
As only an elementary teacher would, I often plopped right on the floor with them to read or write. That Monday was a writing day. I was laying on the floor of my classroom writing in my journal and looking around the room at my students doing the same. I was damn proud of myself as a newly single working mom. I was doing it and I was also doing it well.
There was a knock on the door and when a student opened it, I saw my boss and friends. My first thought, laying there on the floor, was, dear lord, what did I do? What parent did I upset? I was wracking my brain trying to think of what could possibly have happened to get these folks at my door. No one would say anything to me. They just told me I had to come with them. I remember this fleeting thought of, "this is what it must feel like to walk with bodyguards." I just didn't know what they were protecting me from.
When we got to the main office, they led me into my boss's office and handed me a phone with my mom on the other end. She was crying. Immediately, I thought something happened to one of my kids. And when she said no, I knew. I had known all along. I knew it would happen. The thing I had been worried about most for the past 17 years, f*cking happened. I stopped trying to prevent it. I stopped putting my hands all over it, pulling as many strings as I could, breaking the falls, and carefully orchestrating his life. It was suffocating him and he desperately wanted me to stop. I loved him enough to let go of the strings. It was the only thing we hadn't tried. He wanted to do life on his own terms. I told him over and over, " We will be here when you are ready." I trusted the universe to handle it without me controlling the pieces. Only instead, my worst nightmare became my reality.
The rest is a blur. I fell on the floor. Screamed, cried, kicked, and rocked back and forth. It might have been minutes and it might have been hours. Time had stopped. I wanted to know every detail. I had so many questions. How did it all fall apart so fast? Is the permanent, like forever? How do we even know, could it be a mistake? How do I tell Lily and Avery? How do I even move off of this floor?
I only remember moments from there.
The moment I asked Lily to come to my room after she got home from school. When we sat down on my bed, she wanted to know if we are having a party. "Why are all of your friends here mom?" I told her that I had something really hard, something really sad to tell her. She said to me, "Dad died, didn't he?" And my heart shattered.
"I knew this would happen one day, but couldn't he wait until 5th grade graduation...or...my wedding? Mom, who is going to walk me down the aisle?" I have read other accounts of daughters whose dad's die by suicide. Apparently, it is common that the first thing they say has to do with their wedding day. It must be something inherent in a little girl's heart about the day Dad walks you down the aisle. Mind you, Lily has always told Scott and I that she has bigger plans than that. Maybe marriage one day, but only after Harvard, graduate school, and some sort of world domination. What has happened is that her best friend is gone forever and she jumps to the biggest Dad moment she can think of--walking down the aisle. She wants to know how she will get through life's big and small moments without him. I look at her blankly because I have the same damn question.
This was the last picture Scott sent us. Caption read: "Did you just get this super cute picture of me commuting to work? (eyes need work)." He was in New Mexico loving the blue skies. There was a freedom he felt there that mostly worked for him. I don't have very many things of his because I honestly do not know where they ended up. He lived so many places those last few months and was on a minimalistic kick so I believe he gave most of his earthly possessions away, but that sweatshirt he has on in this picture made its way home to me. I keep it at the top of my (his) closet. It was a new purchase during his journey west so I feel like I have a piece of that part of his life.