It has nearly been seven years since his departure. That is 2555 days without a Dad. I cannot illustrate to you the perpetual pain of my soul. However, I can share the story of my Dad’s suicide and how a single death managed to determine the future of many lives.
Suicide is a selfish act. This is something that we all know. In destroying yourself, you destroy those who love you. Nevertheless, I am not ignorant. I understand the adeptness of life and how a simple pull of a trigger, tug of a rope or handful of pills, can bring about immediate peace. Just because I understand it though, that does mean I condone it. I could never condone the behaviour of a coward. Especially when the coward fathers children.
I would be using the written word as a lie if I were to state that I am without anger. Trust me, I’m angry. I was only twelve when my Dad left and even with the innocence of youth, I still had bad thoughts.
It was my fault. I should have done more. I was not enough for him. He never loved me. There must be something wrong with me. I don’t deserve to be here. Maybe I should die too.
That is a mere sample of my 12-year-old self’s suffering. I took responsibility for my Dad’s death and punished myself accordingly. I abstained from eating, studied until my fingers bled, allowed myself no friends, and began to loathe mirrors. Ultimately, I became the very depression that took my Dad.
I am now nineteen. Time has done its duty and I now recognise that I played no role in the downfall of my Dad. Every morning, I look in the mirror, stare at my reflection and become a little more content with who I am. It is a journey that may never come to an end but that is okay. Simply being on the journey is enough for me.
I feel obligated to share one last thing. Although being aware of suicide is important, people need to understand the nature of it. By becoming familiar with its form, it can be stopped and believe me when I say that it needs to be stopped. The following story was written by my 14-year-old self.
Within this underbelly of the hospital lies those of the deceased; people who die from disease, people who die from injury, people who die from old age but it shouldn’t be people who die from suicide. We are lead further down the corridors of death. Each compartment we pass weakens me as I know what lies inside. I am so entranced by my surroundings that it takes me a moment to realise that we are standing right outside the room of destination. I slowly embrace the exterior; it is so modern, so elegant, so alive… the exact opposite of what is enclosed inside. The door opens. I see a figure lying under a chalky white sheet. Without hesitation I begin to take steps into the unknown when I get interrupted by Nana. “Are you sure you want to go in?”, “Do you think you should see him?” She questions. I think about it. Every part of my body is screaming for me to turn around and abscond from such a situation but something beyond this world is wishing for me to enter the room. I have to see him. I have to have some form of conformation, before I can even begin to contemplate what has happened. “Yes, I need to.” Without argument she retreats and withdraws herself from the hospital entirely because she can’t handle it. She leaves Mum, my aunt and I to set off into something that will indefinitely break all three of us.
“I am going to lift the sheet now, ok?” We all nod in approval at the hospital worker. She gently lifts the sheet revealing something that I regret seeing to this very day. There he lays, motionless, soundless, breathless… lifeless. The whole room and its contents experience utter heartache. My eyes widen at what lays before me. On the hospital bed is a man. A man who once thrived on life, a man whose heart was the warmest, a man who would have never given up; so I thought. It takes a while before the canvas is fully painted before me, but when it does, it is powerful. My eyes instinctively avert to his head. It is settled onto the pillow and faced to the opposite direction of our own. The lady once again with her sympathetic hands, positions his head towards us. His eyes. I feel so exposed, so vulnerable, so weak… so why do I continue to gaze into death. It as if he is trying to tell me something, with nothing more than a glance, but it doesn’t work. I feel as if a train is literally rummaging throughout my heart, and no amount of concentration would be able to help me understand what his is spirit is trying to say.
Without warning his mouth becomes overly apparent. It is wide open. Thoughts flood through my head, Did he suffer, Was he sacred? Was he screaming? Somehow the lady hears me contemplating and puts my mind at ease “Don’t worry, he wasn’t screaming, tubes had to be put down his throat on the way to hospital.” I feel some sense of relief, but not enough. I just stare. I realise that this image will never leave my head. A day will never go by where I don’t see him lying there lifeless, mouth wide open and staring straight into my soul. This image will forever haunt me and nothing in the world will ever cure my mind of that. We begin the first step of grieving. My aunt grabs me whole heartedly and wraps her arms around my body, covering me like a blanket. Slowly, she squeezes every tear of, anger, hate, misery and despair out of my heart… but they just keep on coming. I gaze onto my mum and she begins to step forward. Her face showcases as much misery as ours, if not even more. She peacefully grabs his hand and caresses it into her own. I can only imagine what it must feel like; to touch a body that soulless. More tears begin to run down all three of our faces as the next few words release from her mouth. “Oh Brett, what have you done…” Then it hits me; I still can’t even process what he has done.
I didn’t know this man as well as my brother. I only got to know who he really was in the last five years, but that was enough to embrace everything he had to offer. He had the biggest heart. In the poorer area where we lived, he would never sleep unless he was certain that our neighbours and their kids had eaten. He put his children before himself; making sure that they had everything he could possibly supply while he lived on nothing more than the most basic of necessities. That was not even the best part of him. He was the most humorous person I have ever known. His jokes and overall outlook on life sent anyone into hysteria no matter how bad their life may have been going. Another thing that captivated me was his wisdom. He would know exactly what to say to you when you were unhappy and he wrote the most phenomenal poems and stories all containing something of meaning. He had just the most remarkable allure. Everything about him would make you want to be a part of his life; his humour, his smile, his wisdom and love. Nobody could deny his soul and that is one thing that I don’t regret, the fact that I let him in.
I stand there with my aunt watching my mum being so affectionate towards the man. How she has the strength or the power to connect with somebody dead to such a scale as this I do not know but then I realise. Even though I can’t see him doesn’t mean he’s not there, even though I can’t hear his voice his words still live on and even though his heart no longer beats his spirit still does. I collect myself and begin to pace towards him. I stop at the side of his bed and gently lean down. I kiss him on the forehead softly and the connection of our two beings sends a thought straight through me. Be hopeful. I carefully direct to his ear and whisper, “Goodbye Dad, I will.”