You haven’t lived if you haven’t sat opposite someone who wants to die. Three different ways Darren says he has of committing suicide, all violent. Step in front of a train, the tracks are two minutes from his place, step off the pedestrian overpass at the Austin Hospital, at peak hour so if the fall doesn’t kill him the traffic will, or slash his wrists, and if it’s not happening fast enough, slash his jugular, bleed out in his lounge room.
I’m holding his hand, when he tells me this. We’re sitting in a café drinking cappuccino and it crosses my mind how remarkably calm we both are. I should be crying, I think, but instead I’m thinking about how the hair on Darren’s hands and arms is soft, longish, and it reminds me of my dad’s.
Maybe calmness is due to experience. This isn’t the first time Darren has talked about killing himself, and I know for sure, that if Darren believed just a little bit more in Heaven he’d be there with Libby, twin scooters in the sky.
But it’s not Darren’s suicidal thinking that’s set the tone, it’s Libby’s. She made more than one attempt, more than ten probably, and she often talked about ‘not being here anymore.’
It’s fucken sobering to sit in your parked car with your little sister and discuss ways in which it could be done. To offer the beautiful woman some help because if she has to die, if she can’t handle one more god-awful, stinking day, then please don’t let her go out alone. I pictured myself holding her hand. And I pictured myself dealing with the police because we aren’t allowed to help people die.
What I want to know is, why should people be made to stick around. For us? For their family? For their friends? Plenty of people who commit suicide, or attempt it, have people who love them and who’ll miss them, people who’ll shake their fists at the sky in their powerlessness to explain it.
Isn’t it more loving to let people go?
Of course, Libby didn’t commit suicide. She was robbed by a heart attack in her sleep. We were robbed. But it feels better for us that she planning to get up and make dinner for herself and Daren, her Honey Bear, and that though she had big health issues she was, at the time, happy.
There’s the rub. Getting happy again is the fly in the ointment.
Libby wanted out several times, she had the scars to prove it. I still have her razor blades to prove it.When she was suicidal she couldn’t think of when the next good day might be. But there was a next good day, another and another, and if you’re dead you don’t get to experience them. Hang in there, things could improve. Hang in there, up your dose, see your psych, give it time, things could improve. Often things improve.
In nearly three years since Libby died Darren has slept in the bedroom they shared twice. He can’t bring himself to sit on ‘her’ couch. Libby’s jewellery is still on the table the way the paramedic left it. Darren has been brave, kept up his medication, talked to professionals, gone to family functions, plugged in and looked able, but he’s sad.
Darren wants to die. He says he’s been writing letters to his loved ones in his head. He wants to ‘be with Libby’. Be with Libby, might mean in Heaven or it might mean dead, but that’s what he wants.
I asked if I could contact his brother – he said yes – but a big part of me wanted to leave it. Let him go. Does Darren need people trying to drag him through a life he doesn’t want?
Still, I texted his brother.
I remember, with Libby, becoming exhausted by her desperation and sadness and the suicide attempts on repeat. I remember driving to one of them and not breaking the speed limit once, if she wants to go I’ll give her a little time. If she’s gone by the time I get her there, it’ll be a relief for both of us.
Can I let you in on a not-secret?
Having her gone is not a relief. It’s Hell. Everyday it’s unbelievable. Everyday I have to re-remember she’s fucken gone and I can’t do one fucken thing about it. Well, nothing that will get her back. I can cry and I can write, I can listen to Madonna, remember the funny things she did, how she hated the Pope with a passion that was ridiculous. I can love that she and Darren loved each other so much. And I love that, it brings comfort to know Libby was, is, loved.
If Darren commits suicide I’ll miss him. He and I are close, we’ve held each other through this, we understand each other. I could say ‘at the moment’ Darren sees no better days, but that’s my ‘moment’ not his and I have my loved one, I have my kids. He has a vacant couch and an unused bedroom. Darren sees no better days.
no rays of hope for darren