How to Survive a Successful Suicide!

Completely overhauling and thoroughly cleaning a room is difficult enough: What stays, what's trashed? Is there room for this stupid thing I really wanna keep? Which boyfriend gave me this memento and did I like him enough to keep it? Size 2 jeans can go straight to the donation box! Etc., etc. But then come the pictures and letters and oh, to hell with this.

Five of the loveliest, most beautifully designed greeting cards sent from Daddy throughout the last year of his life2011 through spring of 2012and one Saint Jude prayer pamphlet blessed by his local bishop, imploring his God to heal his chronically ill daughter. While he was slowly dying a prolonged, agonizing, tortuous, memory, mind, and dignity-robbing death, he just continued sending these cards, as if I was the one in that god-forsaken nursing home 1500 miles away, alone and terrified.


"Just another note to let you know...I'm thinking of you. All my love, Lily Glirl. Get well soon! Daddy."

I could barely make out the handwriting in that card, as it was his last and his penmanship had deteriorated to scrawls and scratched-out first attempts. The cards had been boxed up, hidden away, forgotten. During the time period he sent them, I was such a mess they likely weren't appreciated when received. So, it's actually like... I don't know. Waxing poetical, it's like the skies rained down the most precious gifts I didn't know I needed, right when I needed them most.

There were cards from Mom, too, ancient (my first birthday!) all the way up to now. They're each perfect, as Mom is a greeting card master, always lasering in on the best ones. During my early days at Publix, she started quietly leaving bright, encouraging cards on the kitchen table, the foot of my bed, or by the coffee maker. That was a tremendously precarious period. Not only was I petrified and anxiety-ridden over returning to work after a five-year lapse, but as a cashier, all I did was stand for 6-8 hours a day: it crushed my knees, ankles, and back and the pain was unbearable; was unfathomable. Tack on that I was also fresh as a delusional daisy from the nutty greenhouse and we had all the ingredients for another breakdown. "Here we go," I thought. "Chalk up another failure."

A few days later, I came home to a darling card with four little ballerinas lined up at the barre, but the fifth one's hanging upside-down on the barre looking bored stiff and ready to cause trouble. The cover print: "There are two kinds of people in this world—YOU and everyone else." Mom filled out the inside with:

"Never forget all the ways you are different are what makes you so special. You are NOT ordinary—you are special because of those very 'differences'! Never settle for anyone who cannot appreciate that, my extraordinary daughter!
Love—Mom."
After the cards, I found Mom's handwritten notes. All are from 2012 onas in, post-suicide attempt and the period of rebuilding my life (very quickly), getting a new job, and adjusting to this new thing called living...and happiness? But Christ, please believe me, it weren't no cakewalk. So if things got particularly stressful or I still felt like the ultimate failure, I'd come home to these handwritten, block-lettered notes on my desk:


"You are special and I am PROUD of all that you have accomplishedand that you WILL accomplishone day at a time. Love, Mom."

There's also a note about fixing the bathtub on the back of that paperbecause that's my Mommy, and why waste scratch paper?

Christmas, 2012 note—6 months post-suicide attempt:

"There was not a single card that even came close to saying what I wanted to tell this Christmas of 2012.

You have been re-born this year in every way that matters.

You have taken everything that was broken and, piece by piece, step by step, you have repaired what was broken in ways that make the broken places stronger.

I am proud of you in ways I cannot find words to express...

I love you always—I will always want to kiss the broken places and make them better, but you have learned how to do that yourself. Love, Mom."

This is the last, I promise, and it's very short. Here's a pic of the cover:



This one arrived during another attempt at getting clean.
The inside Hallmark greeting:

"Hey, whatever gets you through the day."

Mom:

"Scream, yell, punch the pillows, it's all okay—anything to get healthy! I'm here for you. Mom."

Who does this?! What kind of parents DO this? I gave up the caps-lock a few years back but Christ, who DOES these things? I've fucked up in almost every goddamn way possible; I was a horrible daughter, horrible child. Even in my mid-30s, there were times I'd get so frustrated, so...annoyed when my dying Daddy called me every hour, almost on the hour, every single day, rambling on incoherently about how the nurses were trying to kill him and his second wife was evil (factsorry, had to say it) and I had to get him out of there or he would die. All I needed to do was steal a Hyundai and drive from Florida up to where he was—Wisconsin—and bust him out! But to be sure to bring a coat, maybe a red windbreaker, because it was very, very cold up there right now. Can't I please do this? Can't I save his life? Because he'll die in there if I don't do this. Annie, please get me out of here!

When I'd carefully point out that the rheumatoid that had been eating away at the cartilage in his knees (his entire body) for over 20 years had recently rendered him unable to walk, he would pause...then brightly respond, "Sure I can! These doctors don't know a thing!" My estranged older brother had told me how Dad tried to stand recently and immediately hit the deck. He would never be ambulatory again—but I'm supposed to steal a fucking Hyundai (a Hyundai?! The guy was a Cadillac man his whole life! That, dear friends, is dementia), drive to Wisconsin, shanghai him by way of wheelchair, I guess, windbreaker zipped to the collar, and off we'd go, back to safe and warm Florida, where those who loved him best and most so desperately wanted him.

I'd see his number on caller ID sometimes and ignore it. It was too much. Fuck, it hurts. He didn't call another person: certainly not the estranged brother who lived about 4 miles away from him, as he honestly didn't seem to care; he did call my little brother about half as many times as he did me, which I'm sure was so difficult and stressful for such a young guy trying to finish college and start a life. But I was Daddy's operator...and I let the fucking line go dead. Who—you tell me who in their right fucking mind—would do such a thing, commit such an atrocity, to a man who not only thought nearly singularly of his ailing daughter as he day-by-day wasted away like a rotting fruit carcass, but who also spent 68 years acting as the greatest daddy any daughter could ask for, could love? Who?

Me, this human being right here—that's who.

*****

My mother and I have had a bipolar/borderline disorder relationship since time immemorial. Seriously, before I was even born, there was conflict. (Ask her about being in labor with me and how I ruined her bladder.) It heightened in my twenties, simultaneous to the development of my bipolar and, later, drug abuse, which escalated things just a tee-bit. Mom was the easiest target for my rage—because I knew she was absolute living, breathing, walking, talking, unconditional love, and no matter how fierce our fights—even the one that led to the suicide attempt, which was the fault of issues, not people—she'd still love me. She'd still sit at my bedside for three days while I was in a coma, a ventilator snaked down my trachea—just like you used to see on E.R., with the silver tube rapidly but very, very precisely shoved down your throat into your pharynx and suddenly, oxygen. Then she sat there for another week or so while I recovered; while I babbled like a 3-year-old, unable to get the right words out of my head and into my mouth; while, as the nurses and Mom tried to sponge bathe me, in a delirious fit I screamed that Mom was trying to stab me in the throat and send me to a padded room. She just continued scrubbing my armpits, completely unphazed. However, my outburst startled one nurse who perhaps thought I was backsliding, so she asked me what year it was and who the president was. I remember screaming, "Noy shtoopid! 2012! And Olabama. Obadama. Obamamama." Pause. "The black guy."

She found me dead in my bathroom. Dead. Not unconscious or comatose, but dead. My mother saw her baby girl dead on the bathroom floor, right before her eyes. I don't know how I ended up in there, considering the veritable prescription panacea I'd eaten a day-ish beforeand we're talking heavy duty psychiatric drugs and, oh my god, so very many of them—significant triple digits in total number of pills taken is my wager, knowing what I had at-hand and my sincerity to get. it. over with. But somehow, at sometime, I pulled a temporary Lazarus and toddled to the bathroom—where I proceeded to eat all of the OTCs I could find and successfully unwrap. (I can't open those damn blister-packs when awake and aware, but it would seem I function better mostly unconscious.) No recollection of any this...or of Mommy looking for me, calling my name, opening the bathroom door, or feeling it thud against my motionless, insensate head. I don't recall the paramedics' arrival, or if it was one of them or a physician who left the giant, fist-shaped bruise on the middle of my chest (which makes me think the administration of pre-cordial thumps followed a lot of CPR).

Mom doesn't know, either; too much chaos. What she did get to experience during the week or longer I was hospitalized was being told—repeatedly—there was zip-zero chance of survival, but hey! If I did live, I'd be a vegetable! Mercifully, and because my mother knows me, she begged whatever universal forces power this planet to either let me survive and come back whole—to come back as meor to let me die rather than exist and not live.

Once I got out of the loony bin (only a week's stay, but the best experience of my life—and that's not sarcasm), Mom and I didn't speak much for about two-ish months. Then one day she asked me to lunch and when we came home, I stopped dead in the middle of the family room, grabbed her by the shoulders with all the ferocity a newborn daughter withholds for her life-giving mother, buried my head in her delicate clavicle, and sobbed, "I'm so sorry, Mommy. Oh, god, I'm so sorry!" until all of the strength left my body. And my mother held me, soothed me, rubbed my back, held me so tight my arthritic joints ached but I didn't care.

"Oh, sweetheart girl," she said. "I know you are—and it's okay. It's all okay, and it's all going to be okay."

And for two years, it really, really was.

After being fired from my job one year ago (don't even ask about it), I slipped into a funk, as anyone would. But as a bipolar being, depression is my go-to setting, so the funk easily slid into said depression...which has gone full-throttle mixed-episode of depression and anxiety. This is how that goes:




That's it! Literally, this is what I've been going through for the past, I dunno...eight months? Well, all my life but for now, it's active. Once in a blue moon, I'll visit like, a friend I'm extremely comfortable with. Otherwise? Sorry, I'm slouched in the recliner in my pajamas binge-watching the new season of Longmire. True, I feel like shit physically and the nausea is unfuckingreal and now I'm passing out due to weight loss and—you got a problem with it, too fucking bad—if it weren't for marijuana, I'd easily be fifteen pounds thinner and much, much sicker, not to mention I would have hospitalized myself at least 6 weeks ago due to the excruciating pain and nausea, as well as the inability to eat, which the weed helps with somewhat. Come arrest me, I don't care. The shit has kept me going for three months. Irony is, I hate the stuff. Regardless, thank Jebus I don't have to lie or make up excuses about not attending said invites: I'm sick, I can't make it. What I haven't told them is yeah, I'm sick, but the idea of leaving this house gives this fucking ulcer about 12 more ulcers.

How the hell did I get here?

Well, it is one of my writes, after all; no one expected anything more than my standardized stream-of-conscious-mess. But, honest to the confounding, profound, unending love of my parents, you could offer to grant me the greatest writing talent ever known and still, I wouldn't change my style. Nope, not even for Faulkner's ability and supreme talent. Not even for Ms. Virginia Woolf herself. Oh, you heard me. Juvenile and unpolished and poorly crafted as it is, I wouldn't write Annie other way. Because whatever talent I do have—what tremendous talent I once had that promised a future I cannot even conceive of, cannot even think of as it was filled with everything bright and proud and all I always wanted most and couldn't be further from, it hurts too much to consider—all of it came from my parents.

However different, extraordinary, special, "special" oryeah, "accomplished" I just can't accept at this point—my parents may have thought I was or think I am, I'm not. I became infuriated and annoyed with my father when he was dying; I ignored him. Those could've been precious words exchanged, but I'll never know. I suicided in my mother's house after giving her decades of unbearable grief and turmoil, then potentially terminated any future with her, with us, with me, with you.

That's the very definition of selfish. But I do not believe suicide is a selfish act—not always, anyway. But that's an argument—I mean, bookfor another time.

Aw, fuck it. We're goddamn human. I know this. But it doesn't change my feelings on the past. It doesn't make slinking out of bed in the morning any easier:



Then there's anxiety and body dysmorphia!




Ever.Single.Day. When the depression/anxiety is active, that is. Which is pretty much ever.single.day, just to varying degrees.
Side note: That's me at the computer each day, in love with you all...then after being asked to go outside and interact! With people!! But I digress.

I know I didn't really want to hurt my father. It was just killing me, that I couldn't do what he actually wanted me to: steal a fuckin' Hyundai, zip up some magical red windbreaker, and haul ass to Pewaukee, WI! You cannot fathom how much I wanted to, how I dreamt of it, tried to figure out an actual plan, asked a few friends if they had ideas, talked to my family for ideas... I just wanted to see my daddy one more time. No, that's not true. I wanted to save him. And as the person he turned to for saving, I should have been able to do that one thing. This didn't mean I had to save his life; I just had to get him out of that fucking hell-hole and back home with us, safe and loved and tangible, within arm's reach; so close, I could reach out and stroke his crippled hand; so close, I could reach out and throw our cell phones from the driver's window of the Hyundai as I drove us back to Florida and freedom.

It didn't happen. Of course it didn't. I never saw him again. That's okay, though, because I was told he looked nothing like his former, vivacious, sparkly-eyed self. He was shrunken, bedridden, stripped of dignity: a barely-breathing corpse. Last I'd seen him, he'd been far from well, but he was still, mostly, and in all the ways that counted, My Daddy.

My mama is in the other room, moving extremely heavy furniture she has zero—prepare for the caps-lock—ZEEE-ROOHH business moving. And all around the house! The woman is 68! I'm 38 but because of my stupid rheumatoid, she won't "allow" me to help. Now she's mowing the lawn. This is ridiculous. More so because she's like, 28 times stronger than me. 128 times stronger than me. God, she's a wonder. And I cannot wait to write my first book...all about the fascination, the enigma, the marvel that is my mother.

"I will always want to kiss the broken places and make them better, but you have learned how to do that yourself."

Like hell. If I learned how to do it, I learned this healing at the hands of a medicine woman who never had anyone, ever, kiss a single one of her broken places—whether it was her body or soul that suffered, it was my mother who treated and disguised every bruise, blemish, and break. It is how she first came to know nursing; it is how she was born to know it.

And of course, Daddy taught me how to laugh through the pain, and to never—not even at death's door—forget those you love, and to, in whatever way you can, continue caring for them. As of today, that lesson has been learned.

My parents. God I adore and worship them. They'll never, ever know.


God honesty sucks. I mean hurts.

But after the pain, after the seemingly endless tears finally dry up or wash away and you can see the world—see everything!clearly again, then sweet Jesus, suddenly...you're breathing...on your own.

You beat every damn odd. They call you a miracle. You don't feel like one. 

In fact, you feel like a vegetable.

The most valuable lesson, which is also the most easily forgotten, is that whatever it is, honey, it's just one day—not forever. If anyone knows about looking forward to tomorrows, you can betcher' bottom dollar it's Annie. It's just today—not the rest of your life.


*****


"You have been reborn this year in every way that matters."
Two people brought me into this world and shortly after, baptized me. They lit that baptismal candle together. That light...gimme a sec.

That's their song below, Mom and Dad's. If you can't spare literally 2 minutes and 30 seconds to listen, it's okay. Really. Know why?
You're human. And we each make choices, good and bad, that can lead us to the most remarkable journeys. Yes, the depression/anxiety is...well, my hands are shaking just thinking about it, but I swear, I see the smallest light. Yes, two days ago I told my shrink I feel like the utmost failure and didn't see a future for me—and this is true. But I honestly do see the smallest of lights.
That light at the end of the tunnel...my parents lit it. And without a hint of religious overtone, I say that light is them, just waiting until I need them most, in whatever form they can present themselves.

Perhaps via cards and letters.

Christ, here come another flood of tears. They can dim the light so easily... As do the contrails of smoke rising from millions of churches, where the devoted and the keening kneel and donate their dollar for a candle rental and a useless prayer. It's the grey cloud in my skull that dims the exhilarating shock of nature and the preternatural power of the world. But goddammit, there's a light; their light.

And if it grows too dim, I'll just follow the ghostly, beckoning wisps of their candle...and see clearly again.




For Daddy: Our favorite singalong song.
I'm so sorry I didn't answer.
I only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn't real...but that's not the way it feels.