I looked at death tonight. I’d like to say I examined it like you would a textile, holding the weight of it in your hand, feeling the surface. But of course, it wasn’t like that. No one touches death, we only picture it until it embraces us.
It was more like admiring something in a catalog and thinking “I wonder how that would be. What would it be like to try that on? Is it too expensive?”
In my twenties, I used to think about suicide on a fairly regular basis. I’d imagine the aftermath. I’d consider it as a solution, but not for long. If you’re thinking about the “after” you’re only kicking the tires. For a month or so, when I was 26, I slipped way below the surface and really thought I wanted to die. I was in so much pain that I didn’t see the point in going on living.
Luckily I had health insurance. Because I had health insurance, I had a psychiatrist, a good one, who kept me alive by making me sign a contract every day that I would not kill myself before I saw him the next day.
I don’t have a psychiatrist anymore.
But this evening, I looked at death again. And I didn’t think about “after.” I looked at it like one looks at a deep dark pool. Some alternative state. And what I thought is this: it would be so nice to rest. This would stop all of the things that are hammering in my brain. The last box to tick on the last to-do list.
I have too much on my plate.
I am supposed to be writing a book. I haven’t done a damn thing for it since October. That inattention weighs me down. I have been busy with volunteer efforts. I have been busy helping friends. I have been busy spinning my wheels. The days start and end in the dark.
When I tell my friends that I am out of hope, they suggest chocolate. They say they feel the same.
At my house, the television goes constantly. My husband is wonderful in many ways, but he starts the day with “Paternity Court” and falls asleep on the sofa to “Rachel Maddow” on Tivo. I am not in the same room with it, but I hear it throughout the house. A friend of mine used to share the complaint– her husband had a particular fondness for “The Price is Right.” When her husband died last winter, “The Price is Right” was on across the room.
Our twenty-year-old son lives with us. He’s a good kid, but he and his father can’t communicate. As a result my husband nags me all day every day about the things he wants Julian to do, since direct communication between the two of them so often ends in shouting.
Every plaint, every pundit, the queries by phone and email, the tasks left undone, each of them another stone in my pocket.
Today I met a friend for lunch. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was out of sync, not quite keeping up. Afterwards, alone, I sat in the car in a parking lot in silence. For twenty-five minutes, just staring out at the December sky. I felt strange. I ran some errands, picked up dog food and toilet paper.
Driving home through the city streets, I didn’t even feel like I was in the car. I felt like I was in some other place, perched on a diving board, my toes curled around the edge.
And then I came home. And the television was on and the dogs swirled around me. In the kitchen, my husband notes that I have tears in my eyes. I just nod. I don’t know why I’ve been crying. I don’t know why I feel so down. I don’t know why I feel so tired. I only know that I’ve been into the dark and out again.