It Took Me Over Two Years To Write This Post – Part 5 “Conversations & Regrets”

The story is true (some details omitted for privacy)the names are fake.

Content Warning: Suicide

***

Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4

There are so many conversations that I wish I could have had with you:

You’d be happy to know that I (eventually) took your advice and started therapy. I would have loved to talk to you about that experience. How strange it is to build trust with a therapist. I would have asked you how to go from the natural tendency to want to appear likeable to actually sharing the relevant dislikeable shit that you’re supposed to talk about.

Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels.

I would have loved to talk to you about struggling with Shabbat, about deciding to quit, and also about leaving the door open to come back. I know you quit Shabbat, yet remained connected.

Actually, better yet, I would have loved to finally do that low-key Shabbat dinner we talked about doing – low-key with respect to food expectations (you knew I sucked at hosting and became a stressed-out lunatic whenever I attempted it) but with high-energy z’mirot (traditional Shabbat table songs). I’m sorry we never did that Shabbat dinner. Or that I never took you clubbing. I just always thought we had more time.

I would have opened up to you about the problems in my marriage. I would have felt bad about sharing this with you; I mean, you hosted my Shabbat Kallah to celebrate my then upcoming marriage, and you (and everyone else, myself included) thought Husband and I were a perfect match. I would have talked you about what it’s like to contemplate ending a relationship with someone you really care about – you’ve done it, so I know you would have understood. You also had a knack for remaining impressively good friends with your exes. If it came to that, I might have asked you for tips.

You’d be happy to know that I (eventually) ended things with Crush-Turned-Emotional Affair Guy. Ending it was easier than I thought it would be, although it took me longer than it should have.

***

There was the time I got drunk enough to tell Husband how depressed I really was. That conversation went about as well as one might expect. It was an awful conversation, almost comedic in its awfulness and awkwardness, and the whole time, I had the strongest urge to go over your house and talk to you about just the experience of having this conversation. I just sensed you would have understood it in a way no one else would have. I had to remind myself that you were gone.

I had to actually remind myself that you were dead, that’s how strongly I felt an urge to talk to you. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

***

I wish had been a better friend. I would have told you how good your poetry really was, from your clever Purim rhymes, to the poem about your cat on the day your father died that was absolutely stunning. I feel like I was always a little too self-absorbed in my own poetry to give yours the attention and praise it really deserved.

I’m sorry I was a shitty listener when your cat was sick and when he had to be put down. When your cat got sick, I was so shocked by his appearance, I forgot to be a good friend and comfort you.

I wish I would have been a better listener. I remember the time several years ago, when you became emotional over not having had children of your own. I hugged you, but I didn’t really identify. I wasn’t a great listener then because at the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted children and if I changed my mind, I was confident they would happen because I was young. Now I do.

I would ask you how you came to embrace the role of “Aunt Joyce” to your nieces and nephews and friends’ kids. I’m still stuck in angry rage and jealousy stage of hating aunthood like it’s a crappy consolation prize, and cutting off friendships with friends who become parents. “Miriam” mentioned how you played with her kids and made finger puppets with them. How her daughter, who had made aliyah, and was now a tough IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldier, had to bring a mutual friend to the shiva call at your mother’s because she would have broken down completely – you were that close.

***

It’s really these “conversations we didn’t have” that I regret the most. Not to say that I don’t regret not having done enough to prevent you from killing yourself – I do. I don’t pretend to know whether suicide is a choice or whether its consequence of an illness that is not a choice, and that to say “committed suicide” is the wrong word. (And thank you to Ashley for posting about this question on her blog, Mental Health @ Home). But I can acknowledge that there was probably a limit to how much I could have realistically done to prevent you from dying. So that’s not really at the forefront of my regrets.

What I do regret though, is not having made the most of the time we had when you were alive.

All these missed conversations, regrets, and feelings. Photo by Brock Wegner on Unsplash

Part 6

31 comments

  1. This speaks to all of us. We all regret the conversations we didn’t have than even the unpleasant ones we had. This series is quite painful to read. I’m glad you’re getting atleast somewhat of a vent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing and for sticking around. It was good for me to finally be able to share about this experience, although I also find myself ready to finish this series. The good news is that Part 6 is the last part, and it’s more redemptive and positive, if that makes sense.

      Like

  2. I think this is such a brave and beautiful thing to do. It may help you (a most excellent outcome) but it’s also a singing tribute to a most special friendship. I don’t believe in an afterlife but it’s when I read things like this that I wish I did. Of course you have regrets. That is human (painfully) but it doesn’t change the beauty of your thoughts about your friend or your honesty and deep seated goodness. It all shows in your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for these kind words. I think human nature is such that I’d feel regrets whether there is or whether there isn’t an afterlife. I’m actually not sure what I quite believe re: an afterlife.
      Thank you, also, for saying this about my writing in this reflection. It took some re-reading, reflection, revision, and re-writing to get this series from pure brain dump to a cohesive story that captured all the elements of the experience. I definitely appreciate your feedback.❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There is always so much you could have said. Any of us could have a wanted to say to friends who have passed on. For people with severe depression I think suicide becomes the right solution to end their pain. I saw a good friend about 18 years ago who I knew had severe depression. He was the happiest, most coherent, in an “everything is alright” state that I had ever seen him. It seemed like he was finally getting better. Was I wrong. He killed himself a few days later. That peace, and happiness was his coming to terms with the idea that ending it all was the right solution. It might have been the right solution for him, but for his wife and three young daughters? You can’t imagine what they went through. His ex, Becky, married another good friend of mine, Tim, in 2019. I photographed their wedding. A huge part of the ceremony was the girls, now in their 20s, finally accepting Tim and allowing their mother to marry him. They had had started dating a few years after the suicide, and the girls could not come to grips with their mom seeing and marrying another man. Tim, who is sweetest guy ever, finally won the over, but it took years and years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel for everyone in your story. Your friend who was struggling so much that he saw suicide as the only means to his pain. His wife finally finding love again. Her new husband trying so hard to form a relationship with the girls, who were also struggling with their own grief and finally allowing themselves and their mother to move on. I imagine it was a beautiful wedding.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Both of them are. I’d known Tim for many years, Becky for much longer. They had know each other before she got married and were attracted to each other, but they lost track of each other in different cities and circumstances. They happened to run into each other a couple of years after the suicide. I think there was more than chance going on after the long separation.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s good and cathartic to work through these emotions. There’s no timeline for grief or a special way to grieve. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. Someone mentioned the word afterlife, I happen to believe in one, and I know you’ll see her again. And it’s not a platitude, a pat on your shoulder, when I say that, but a firm assurance that the dead are with us and take an interest in us and that they’re simply on the other side of this veil of reality yet to be torn. And we can help bring them peace too with prayers. I don’t know enough about Judaism to know about praying for the deceased. As a Catholic we take it seriously. I can’t figure out the status of the books of Maccabees in Judaism but we look to them for the story of how prayers were offered for the dead soldiers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has been an interesting experience writing this series. In some ways, I think it was good to do it some time after the fact. It really was too weird and distracting so close to the wedding, and then the pandemic, etc. Also because Part 6 (The last post) took place later and it was when I finally felt a sense of closure that I really didn’t feel immediate after her death.
      We definitely have this idea around doing good deeds in the name of the deceased to give their souls a spiritual boost of sorts. And in Part 6, I really felt the presence of my friend’s soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope this series helps you process your feelings and move on. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose someone this way. Having been suicidal myself, I don’t think you would realistically have been able to do much to help your friend, but it’s natural to feel regret and even (unnecessary) guilt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have been going through a truly emotional process. I am glad that you have felt this is the place to expose all these feelings. We were never promised perfection but we struggle when this kind of pain comes to us. Suicide always leaves so many questions for those of us left behind. We examine our relationships with them minutely trying to understand and question where we could have done something to help. Unfortunately, there are no concrete answers and it leaves us forever questioning. Just getting all this out is so good and I hope it will bring you some peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – it is very hard to keep yourself from wallowing in the regrets, particularly in the case of suicide.
      It’s been an interesting experience – the exercise of writing and posting this series (originally, it was going to be one post, but it was just too long). It’s been nice to have a supportive blogger community. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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