Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of Angeline’s father’s death. His suicide.
I’ve been avoiding thinking about it. Today my plans for avoidance were thwarted by one of his friends who contacted me on Myspace.com with a simple “Hi, how are you?” I knew this blog post was coming. I knew it, and I turned my back on it until someone spun me around and unknowingly gave me the push I needed to write it.
Its been two years since he committed suicide. When I got the call, I was so overcome with tears that I couldn’t speak for a moment. Have you ever found that your words won’t come out? I had one of those moments, I was literally crying so hard that I couldn’t speak.
Angeline was visiting her father’s parents for a week with her cousins. After his mom told me what happened, she asked me if I wanted her and his father to tell Angeline what happened or if I wanted them to wait until I was there to tell her. I couldn’t face telling her. I asked her to break the news. I still feel guilty about that decision, but I know it was best for her, to hear it from his mother.
I immediately began calling my family to tell them the news. Everyone rushed over, but my husband and I had to leave to start the three hour drive to go meet his parents to pick up the children. That drive was possibly the longest three hours of my life, and I cried the entire way there. It was like something out of a bad dramatic film. I sobbed, I leaned against the window staring out into the empty fields zipping past. My husband probably didn’t understand why it hurt me so much, but he consoled me, constantly touching my hand, rubbing my shoulder, telling me it would be okay.
My first reaction to his suicide wasn’t shock. It pains me to say that, but it is the truth and anyone reading this passage may agree with me. Cheston was what some would refer to as a tortured soul. He threatened suicide on a regular basis throughout his short life. Whenever we would talk – and we did talk often – I would always hang up the phone, shaking my head…he was a rambling mess.
In the first few days after his death, people began to piece together the things that happened leading up to his death. He had just been arrested for his third DUI, which meant he would lose his job because he was unable to commute to work, and his ex-girlfriend whom he thought he might reconnect with was moving away. This, coupled with his already volatile emotional state, was enough to push him over the edge.
He must have been planning it for at least the prior week. He sold all of his tools – which an electrician must have in order to have any sort of livelihood – and sent me a long overdue child support payment of $500. He went to dinner with his parents and Angeline the night before and bought all of the kids little presents.
The night he took his life, he went to his parents house and had some sort of conversation and told them that he was going to kill himself…but you must understand, he did this throughout his entire life. After a while, he texted his mother, telling her to tell Angeline and his ex-girlfriend that he loved them. At that point, they became worried and involved the police. They ended up finding him later that night in a storage facility. He had managed to suffocate himself.
I still keep the envelope that his last child support payment arrived in. I received it a few days after he died. For a long time, I kept in my purse. I didn’t want Angeline to see his handwriting. It was over a year before I deleted his phone number from my contacts in my cell phone. Letting go is difficult.
People have asked me why I took his death so hard. I’ve tried many times to put into words the feelings I have associated with his death. At first, I was angry. I was angry that he ended his life as selfishly as he had lived it. He hadn’t even left his 10 year old daughter a goodbye letter. I felt that he had acted out against his family in one last act of selfishness before he died. I felt that he was trying to make his family suffer for his mistakes. I felt that he ended his life by taking down as many people as he could along with him.
When we went to the memorial service and I saw photos of his childhood, of him and I together (I was one of the few serious relationships he had in his life), of him with Angeline, I immediately began to feel differently. It struck me during the service, listening to everyone give testimonies about their relationships with Cheston – he wasn’t entirely bad. These people loved him. To them, he wasn’t the monster that I had known.
We were only together for a short while. It was a teenage romance, born of hormones and boredom. It was the most unhealthy relationship I have had in my life, and I pray that my daughter never encounters a man like her father. We dated off and on for 6 months before I got pregnant. Our short romance was a tornado of drugs, lust, manipulation, emotional abuse and violence.
When it ended, it ended catastrophically and I had never forgiven him for what he had done to me and my family. For so long, even though we smiled and laughed and “got along” when we saw each other or spoke on the phone, I hated him. I maintained a calm exterior for the sake of our child, but inside, I had a hatred for him that penetrated every fiber of my being.
Seeing the childhood photos, one in particular, opened my eyes and softened my heart…and I remembered that he was more than the guy that had done so many horrible things to me. He was a son, a brother, a friend, a human being, separate of the relationship he and I had shared ten years ago.
And then I began to grieve. I grieved for Angeline, who would grow up without the benefit of his maniacal sense of humor and his hysterical laughter. I grieved for his mother, step-father, father and step-mother, for his sister, brother, nieces and nephews, his cousins, who would live the rest of their life with an empty seat at the dinner table on Christmas, where he would normally be sitting – being completely and undeniably obnoxious, but lovable. I grieved for his ex-girlfriend who would probably go the rest of her life wondering if it was her fault. I grieved, knowing that when he saw her last before he died, he probably told her that he was going to and that it was her fault. I grieved for his friends, who knew that there was a monster of sadness, sickness and depression inside him, eating away at his soul, yet saw him laugh and cry and make the best of what he could.
And I grieved for myself. I grieved for the day I will sit at my daughter’s wedding, knowing that there is an empty seat where he should have been sitting.