For Now, Love
You’re probably asleep right now, dreaming of old loves and Greece and Italy in the 80’s. You hate the sunlight and the kitchen light and the light from the hallway. Illumination of the perceived ruins of your life is thoroughly unacceptable. So, you shun it with eye masks and darkness and fanciful dreams. Dreams you wish you could escape into forever. Dreams to make a home of—a safe haven, if you will. That is why suicide is appealing. It poses the potential for infinite dreams and with it, the permanent erasure of all existent pain.
“Outstretch’d he lay, on the cold ground, and oft / Cursed his creation; death as oft accused / Of tardy execution.”
When I was 18, you sat me down and for the first time, asked my permission. I was distraught—to say the absolute least. I couldn’t bear to understand. But the tremor in your voice and defeat in your eyes yearned for me to try.
In the hazy, all-cylinders-firing process of attempting to comprehend any question that is perhaps fundamentally unanswerable, I found the tiniest sliver of clarity. A vision of you relieved of all physical and mental torment.
What a magical sight that would be. My beautiful, once joyous guardian angel, joyous once more. Free.
“But death comes not at call, justice divine / Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries.”
You called me “the town crier of despair” the week I broke the news that both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had taken their lives. Your own conviction to end your life, which often vacillates between dormancy and near-certainty, was re-awoken.
Suicide hotline: called. Anti-depressants scrips: unfilled. Withdrawals followed. I gave you a list of therapists to try, the same list I gave you a year prior. You refused to call. What can therapy do for you, you asked. You only need meds.
I cry out of frustration, out of guilt, out of fear. I wonder whether forcing you into a rehabilitation center is the proper move to make. I settle with no, too expensive. Maybe you’ll come around to therapy one day. Maybe.
But the world continues to crush you under its weight. The thin wire linking all the cracked pieces of your soul could snap at any moment. And who is to blame if and when the wire snaps. All the cracked pieces of your soul will cascade down on family and friends. Blame and misery will pervade. The cycle continues.
I can only take uncomfortable solace in a line you’ve repeated many times. “I don’t think your brother could handle it but I know you could.” Which perhaps is true but I resent that you think I’d be okay without you. I remind you that I have treaded close to the depths of where you struggle to stay afloat. Shaken hands with the temptation. Befriended the myriad justifications. Found peace in the prospect. But I digress. You have an anchor. Whether it’s me or not is beside the point. Anchors are a good, if temporary, solution. You cannot stake your whole life on anchors, however. You’ll have to make it back to shore eventually but for now, the anchor exists and it’s not rusted yet.
“But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame/ Each other, blamed enough elsewhere; but shine/ In offices of love, how we may lighten / Each other’s burden, in our share of woe.”
You talk about love as if it’s a dream you had the night before and after a few hours of lucidity, you’ve forgotten most of the details; all that remains is the faint idea of it and a question as to whether anything you remember happening occurred at all. You wish you could grasp all the brightest moments of love in your life and re-live them over and over.
In vivid colors, you tell me about the time a former lover stood on a ladder to grab a book from a shelf and when he turned around, he gazed at you with the purest love in his eyes. You lament the loss of that moment. You lament the loss of him. He was after all, the same lover who took his own life last summer. He was the love of your life who you always thought you’d see again. Maybe, you believe, if you do the same, you’ll get that opportunity. Perhaps there is more life in the afterlife than here on earth.
At my young age, I cannot say whether the memory of past love is enough to sustain a broken soul. But I remind you always, there is still love left on this earth for you. Perhaps it’s not the same love and perhaps it’s not the cure-all but there is love.
I realize there exists an aspect of depression and trauma and suicide that is infinitely inexplicable. That elusive, darkest part that cannot be cured by more love or therapy or praise. And trying to fix something unseen is near impossible.
But we can continue to try with small acts—with love and compassion and patience. I can make sure your prescriptions are filled and picked up on time. I can remind you to call therapists. I can even call them myself on your behalf when you can barely stand to wake up and face the light.
It is true that I have no authority on the matter. Only what I know. And I know that I love you. And I know that I don’t want you to leave. And I know that if I could take all the happiest, most beautiful moments of love in your life and put them in a box that you could open up every time you feel like sinking and giving up, I would. But as it stands, I cannot. I can only continue to love you. And try to forgive myself if a times comes when love is no longer enough. But for now, love. And for now, possibility. And for now, future, and for now, for now.