My skin felt tight under the trails of dried tears. I'd sat for hours, writing my goodbyes, letting my tears sign my confessions. In less time than it took to walk to the corner of our crumbling street, my job would be done and I could get on with the business of taking my life.
I didn't know if it was misfortune or the selfless, unconditional comeradery he offered, but no one had won and lost so many companions to suicide as my closest friend. His heart was open to anyone who needed friendship or comfort, and in his arms I found some small amount of strength; enough to carry me through five years of unending misery. His was a friendship that offered me what I most lacked: unconditional, unassuming support. My family loved me, and offered me what they could, but Patrick understood me, because he had been down a road very similar to mine.
The guilt I felt when I thought of him consumed me momentarily and I laid my pen over my words, blotting out the last sentence under its crystalline sides. It had taken me many years to come to terms with what I was going to do. To him and to my family. For Patrick, I would be the fifth person to come into his life by chance and leave by devices of their own making. He had attended far too many funerals brought on by suicide, but that guilt could no longer keep the life in me.
My family would never understand. I thought that perhaps my sister might be able to glimpse the truth through the myths of suicide. I had spoken to her only once about what suffering consumed me, haunting my life with its silent presence. I knew she would not know what to say and would not know what to do, but I needed to make her understand. I could not let her believe that my suicide was her fault or was something she could have prevented.
My brother. I loved him. Wholly and unbearably, and for more than 17 years, his presence in my life had prevented me from fulfilling my deepest desires and casting it aside. Knowing what wreckage I would be leaving behind for him to sort through, angrily, resentfully, and, though I tried desperately to deny it, painfully, had kept me tethered, however precariously, to this world. I only knew the devastation I would feel if one of my siblings were taken from me in any way before they were old and spent.
So many insomniac nights passed with me drowning in these thoughts. I wanted to believe that my brother and sister would simply leave their pain in the open grave of my life, laying all of their tears atop the flowers by my casket. I deceived myself by thinking that they would be better off. I am and have always been a financial drain on my family, and I used that reasoning to divide myself from the truth of emotion.
The real deception came in the lies that I offered to anyone who showed me any concern. I would say that I was fine, that despite the depression, I would be okay. I was desperate to believe that. I knew, as well as I knew my own name, that some day, I would simply quit, and leave this world for something else. Nothing gave me more comfort than the unspoken promise I made to myself that soon I would be dead and I wouldn't have to feel anything anymore. Depression is oblivion, and the only escape is obliteration.
Sometimes, in the lies of day, I would allow myself to believe that things may some day be okay. That things could change, and I would be capable of feeling anything other than intense pain and regret. In truth, my soul knew only death and disease, and had long since shrivelled past the point of resurrection. I knew the feeling of a soul blackening as the pressure of a trash compactor on the lungs and sternum. Nothing in the living world could alleviate that.
What truly holds the depressed shells of humanity in the farce of life is the desire to protect and shield. To stand between the pain and those they love. In my life I have consumed all of the pain and misfortune that I could hold, begging that none would overflow to taint the happiness of my siblings. Disease, illness, heartbreak, mental health issues, physical health issues, unhappiness, and misery. They followed me from place to place, and day to day. Sometimes I cursed fate for giving them to me, asking why I was the one to carry their weight. Other times I thanked anything and everything that my siblings never had to experience what I did. I wanted them to be the happiest people on earth, to have everything they could need or desire. If all I could do to secure them that future was suffer, then so be it. For a very long time, that was almost enough for me.
Some weeks before my sister's birthday, in 2003, something overtook me. I cannot describe the feeling that smothered my consciousness and stood in its place to order my limbs about. All I can say is that it tried to kill me, and I wanted it. That was my first, and only, other suicide attempt. I think that even as I prepared my death, I knew that I wouldn't find it. Not that night, and not the next morning. But it was that night that suicide consumed me, offering itself as the only possible relief for the destitution I was so familiar with.
At 15 years of age, I felt old, aged by the torment in my heart. I was tired, and felt I had lived far too long. Hopelessness inhabited my skin. Though my attempt to leave this stage had failed, some part of me had perished, replaced by frantic desperation. From then on, my time here was meant only to allow me to say goodbye.
As I reread the lines I'd written for my brother, I felt fresh tears wash the old trails from my cheeks. No words could ever explain what he meant to me. Nothing I could say would ever let him forgive me. For the last 7 years, I'd felt guilt as if I'd already taken my life, owing my loved ones the pain I was experiencing as advanced payment for the crimes I was going to commit. This evening, I felt the culmination of that guilt as a palpable presence, sitting next to me as I wrote a different name on each envelope. I ignored the guilt-borne ghost as I collected the envelopes and buried them at the bottom of my purse, carrying them to my room in their own makeshift casket.
I shut and locked my door.
The only container in the room with a lock was on my grandmother's jewellery box. I had no precious jewels to keep within it. The box practically overflowed with paper. I knew that soon I would have to empty it again, burying the evidence of my heart's desire in glowing coals. Unlocking the box caused a cascade of paper and envelopes to pool in my lap. I collected them resignedly and added the freshly penned goodbyes to the top of the pile. My actions were monotonous in their familiarity, my own morbid, bedtime ritual. I forced the lid closed and reinserted the key into the lock, securing my secrets in silence.
Then I went to bed. I awoke the next day and repeated the process. All of my days devoted to planning to end them, and never quite arriving at the end.