I wanted to save my husband and his suicide resonates as a huge failure. Stop. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not my fault, only he could have saved himself. Doesn’t matter and this is not meant to be that kind of confession. It’s the truth that lives in my heart. I have been a dutiful co-alcoholic, co dependent and it was textbook. I wanted to lead him out of the murky waters of despair and have him turn his face to the sun. I knew he needed saving from the first moments I met him beneath the billowing Spanish moss. It was a beautifully muggy Atlanta night in the summer of 1998. He was on the verge of beginning a two year anesthesia rotation at Emory University. I literally saw him across a crowded patio at a party. His face shone from the crowd. Later, as fate would have it, he was standing next to me and we began a conversation. I have always adored asking strangers what they are most passionate about. It’s freeing to share with someone you hardly know what lies in the confines of your heart. So I asked. I recall he bit his bottom lip, like a shy toddler, wondering where the safe boundaries had gone. He shared with me, and I was hooked. We left the party together and spent the remainder of the evening in that most ethereal of spaces, erupting romance.
There were signs very early on that I would stand on very uneven turf with C. But I was instantly in love with him. Charming, talented, attractive, driven, funny and so very smart. Like a moth, I could not turn away from his flame. And even then, subconsciously, I wanted to save him.
I didn’t, save him. I couldn’t. It took a decade to realize I was drowning right along with him instead and my daughters were more often beginning to witness this. Even to his very last day I wanted to save him, or better yet I wanted to make it possible for him to save himself. I didn’t. I couldn’t.
The picture is from a coffee mug that I gave to C our first Christmas together. Money was tight in those days and gifts were challenged to be more about sentiment than price. I loved this gift. It was our picture. We both loved Klimt and had tagged this picture as ours very early on. I still love this picture, but over the years I’ve noticed something ironic. The tilt of the women’s head, the man’s grasp. They seem to be holding on to each other out of desperation and love. The couple appears at once in peace and torment. How fitting.
I didn’t even realize I was drinking from it this morning. Like so many ordinary objects in my home it becomes a reminder of the life I once had, the person I once was. I look forward to the day when I will look upon it and smile a bit. Remember how beautiful that first Christmas was with him. I know that the time will come. But it’s not here now. That’s ok. It’s not supposed to be.