Originally written on September, 18, 2016..
Tomorrow is never promised. Tomorrow may never come. Tomorrow brings so many unknowns. If I knew that May 15th, 2016, that tomorrow would never come for my husband I would’ve sent the text I had written and re-written ten thousand times since he got his cell phone in March. The message that begged him to go the hospital and get help. The one that told him I believed in him, and the kids needed him. The one I deleted over and over again, because I didn’t want to pressure him. I was scared of how he’d take the message and scared because I felt I was walking a fine line between finding stability for myself, and the kids, and having difficulty letting him go. I loved him unconditionally. But unfortunately, after he went off his medication, my relationship with him had to be conditional. It tore me apart inside. Sending that text or not sending that text became a nightly battle.
I was still angry at the situation… and yes at him. Not for being ill, not for what he’d done when he was ill, but for making the decision to go off his medications in the first place. I hadn’t forgiven myself for not knowing he had gone off his medication. I hadn’t forgiven him for leaving us, I hadn’t forgiven myself for not being able to stop the damage or fix it.
I can’t say that if I knew there would be no tomorrow for him, that I would have made my decisions differently. I often move back and forth between yes an no. The decisions I had made in regards to the children were based on the facts I had at the time. And, based on those facts, I hadn’t sent the message. But if I knew he was planning on taking his own life, I would’ve done anything to stop him. I just hope he knew how much we loved him.
Both my son and daughter have had to learn hard lessons much younger than the rest of their peer groups, and many lessons their peers would never have to learn. In her mourning, my daughter no longer views the world as a safe happy and carefree place and my son is internalizing and personalizing the world’s negativity.
My son and I have had many conversations about his dad since he died. While my boy was struggling with his own depression over the summer, he had a lot of negative thoughts and self blame. ” Do you think he knew we loved him? Do you think he thought I hated him after I sent him that text?”
Not all, but most teenagers, including me, have spat venomous words towards our parents out of anger, frustration and hormonal changes without thinking about the consequence. And if there was a consequence to consider, it would be a long grounding or some sort of loss of privileges. My son spoke his feelings after a year of feeling abandoned, watching his father make poor decisions, loosing his home and feeling isolated from his peer group because of the mental illness that was controlling his father. Ya. He was angry. He spat venom. And his dad killed himself days later. To him, this was the consequence. What my son couldn’t see was this was not linear, and his words were not the cause of his dad’s death.
“If, he didn’t before he died, I believe he knows now how much you loved him. And if he didn’t, the illness lied to him and made him believe this. Not you, or anything else. He knows now” I don’t know if my reply was good enough. I don’t know if it helped to ease the pain and guilt. He nodded and went back to reading his book.
About two months ago, I found an eyelash on my daughter’s freckled face and held it between my pointer finger and thumb. “Make a wish!” I cheerily said. We’ve done this many times, and each time she would immediately close her eyes so tight it looked like her face hurt; as though the harder she focused on squishing up her nose and locking her eyelids tight would ensure her wish would be granted. But this time, her face fell, her eyes didn’t light up and she ignored me. “You don’t want to make a wish?” I asked concerned. “No mom, none of my wishes have ever come true. And the one thing I want isn’t possible. So there’s no point.”
The other day while cleaning my daughter’s room we blasted the Annie classic “There’s always tomorrow” and sang the words at the top of our lungs. The words to the song must have got my daughter thinking. I realized I was the only one singing and looked up to find her sitting on the bed with a thoughtful, but sad look on her face.
“Mom, this song is wrong” she said. “There isn’t always tomorrow. Daddy didn’t have tomorrow.” Instantly tears filled my eyes. She was right. There isn’t always tomorrow. What do I say? There was nothing, no words. I went and gave her a hug and let the tears fall.
I tucked her into bed a few minutes later. I was still struggling to hold back the tears. For the last several months I’ve been trying to teach the kids to be grateful for what they do have and not to just focus solely on the losses. I couldn’t find words this time. But to my surprise she piped up, “No mom. I was wrong. Dad did have tomorrow. He is in heaven with god, and god has tomorrows with him!”
“Yes baby, he has tomorrow in heaven.”