I am blessed to have a Tribe that loves me. The question I keep getting is, “What can I do for you?”. The reality is that there is nothing I need other than time. The one thing I want, the one thing I’ve wanted for a very long time, no one can get for me. And that is the way it is.
Justin breathed his last three months to the day after John. This house seems overridden with darkness. The world has stopped, but I’m the only one who seems to have noticed. I can’t sleep, but then I do for a bit. I was jolted awake this morning by an image of Justin’s boots, his motorcycle boots that it was my job to take care of, on a shelf with a tag on them and the thought that I had to get them. His boots aren’t here where they belong. And that is weighing on me.
Yesterday, I got a text from someone very special asking me to call as soon as possible. Before I could make that call, my phone rang. Another special friend wanting to make sure I heard the news from someone who loved me. The person who comforted me the most last week was gone. The person who was always Justin’s touchstone was gone. The woman I’ve held as my role model, who I hoped to be like, was gone.
I know this morning that Justin and Lady Beth are together now. Both at peace, which neither has felt for a long time. They are with Nefarious and John and David and Cheryl Marie and even boy bob. When Beth’s girl and I talked about that yesterday, she was sure Justin said to Beth, “What the hell took you so long?”. I’m sure she’s probably right. They are sitting in the garage that Beth had fashioned immediately upon arrival, complete with her chair, having drinks and smokes and talking about their escapades. And they are whole and at peace again.
Beth welcomed me with open arms because she saw the love Justin and I had for each other. Even while another person was saying cruel things to me out of his own grief this week, Beth was Justin’s champion. No matter the bridges Justin blew up, the difficulties he created in his own life, Beth was there. And she’s been there for me throughout the last two years, checking on me, reminding me to take care of me, loving me. Even in the midst of her own grief.
I’m waiting on a package from Justin’s dad that contains his wedding ring and my collar, along with those damn opposums. Anyone in Arizona who knows Justin knows about those opposums. I’m hoping that I receive the remainder of his stuff without a fight. I’ve battled whether to fight or not. Do I let it go and let others rewrite our history for their own comfort? I’ve decided it’s important enough to fight for.
It’s hard today to acknowledge that Justin is where he chose to be, where he needed to be in order to finally find the peace he’s been fighting for since December 2012. It doesn’t help my own sense of loss, but it does help to know that he’s found that peace. They tell me with time the world will settle and I’ll feel ‘normal’ again. I haven’t known normal for two years. I’ve been in limbo for a long time. I’m not sure I would know normal if it showed up.
I read through my Facebook posts from December 2012 through March 2013 this week. I have them saved in a document because Justin wanted to read them once he came home from that 12-week stay. I felt the urge to write our story down, and so started writing. It’s just for me, but it felt good to get it out and into words.
I can’t seem to reconcile it all, and yet, my head knows that this was the inevitable outcome. The attempt in May was just the first. I should say ‘this time around’ because Justin had attempted years before unsuccessfully. There were others that were unsuccessful in the last few months. Each time he told me goodbye in his way.
We talked about his need to die starting back in February. After the loss of the M/s contest at SW, he just seemed to lose all the fight left in him. And he told me he wanted to die. That my life and the lives of his parents would be so much better if he did. I asked him then what that looked like to him. What did he see when he looked at that? He told me that his parents would grieve for a long time since he was their only child, but that I would grieve and be sad, then I would find someone who was so much better for me than he was now. And that I would go on to be happy again and have the life I deserved instead of a life of taking care of him. I didn’t say anything, but let him go on talking, asking questions here and there. When the conversation came back around, I told him, you know, that picture you have isn’t the reality of how this will all work. The consequences for you dying are much greater than you imagine them to be. You need to be aware of that as you are making those decisions.
After that, there was talk therapy and medication changes in an attempt to get him out of the depression. There were constant attempts at getting him engaged in life. There was even a medicine ritual done with a Shaman. But the one thing I’ve learned through all this is that depression lies to you. And because of that, it ultimately lies to those around you. For a long time now, I’ve wished that Justin could see what I see when I look at him. Because if he could, maybe the depression would be lifted. But we can’t really show them that in the throes of depression. Because they come to believe the lies of the depression.
I used to be one of those people who believes that suicide is selfish and cowardly. Over the last two years, my beliefs about depression, my knowledge about depression has changed significantly. It’s not a cowardly act at all to find a way to ease the intense pain. I know that Justin couldn’t see a life anymore, particularly because of the brain injury. He sought some level of comfort, and I encouraged that for him. In our many, many talks over the last few months, I was happy to know that the decisions we made in May meant he was able to spend quality time with his parents. I grieve for the time that we lost, but I celebrate the time they had with him.
The last thing his mom said to me Sunday night as we were saying our goodbyes at Hospice was, “I’m so worried about you, Cheryl. We have each other to comfort us, but you’re all alone.” She’s partially right about that. Justin was my comfort and my shield between me and the outer world that I always have such difficulty with. He made it possible for me to seem like an extrovert and interact in crowds of people. I have my Tribe, and they do love me. They want to protect me from this grief, but they can’t. Beth was one of them, and she comforted me greatly this past week.
Today I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that they are both together again, whole and at peace, no longer in pain. I can pretend the world has stopped for another day before I have to go back to work on Monday so that I can continue to survive. I have a feeling that it will continue to be just survival for a while to come. It’s been that for the past several months, only now the hope is gone, too.