What a gorgeous autumn night, thought Stephanie as she gazed across the shimmering water from her spot on the retaining wall of the large pond. The pounding in her head eased up slightly, but the fogginess in her brain hadn’t dissipated and her heart still felt raw. Is there any point of it all anyway? the voice in her head echoed.
The sunset was a gentle one, with lovely shades of rose and coral streaking a powder blue sky. The colors of the sky were reflected in the rippling water where three ducks were playing follow the leader. A warm wind was blowing and the yellow wildflowers that encircled the pond danced in the breeze. It was peculiar that Stephanie noticed these things given her state of mind.
Rodin’s sculpture Fallen Caryatid and Jubal Hershaw’s words from Stranger in a Strange Land came to Stephanie’s mind:
This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl—look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.
She felt the exhaustion and emotional pain right to her marrow. The almost daily occurrence of crying was driving her out of her mind. She could not take another day of tears that spilled out, even during activities that used to bring her joy. She felt the weight of her past crushing down on her. It was the sorrow and remorse and the responsibility of raising children with this infinite sadness she carried that she could not bear anymore.
Stephanie wondered if the vision of the sunset over the water was prettier than she expected because she’d given up on it all and this night might be her very last. She had the pills and the booze in the car, waiting for her, a decision she made on while her body was on autopilot.
Her mind was very busy, just as it was earlier that evening when she was preparing her supplies. She was scribbling on her note pad, not really a suicide note, but her thoughts that were coming to her and they tumbled out.
She wanted others to know what was going on in her mind because she didn’t want to leave those she loved wondering and she wrote fast and furious, anything and everything on her mind. And as she wrote, she replayed events in her mind.
Stephanie walked in the drugstore, wondering where to find what she was looking for, wondering if the pharmacist kept them behind the counter.
How many people in the world besides she had given up tonight? How many people might be making plans, selecting pills, or guns, or getting their favorite cutting instrument lined up?, she thought as she walked up and down the aisles wondering if people could tell she what she had planned, or how much she hurt?
How many people are calling suicide hotlines?
How many should be calling them but are not?
How many people are reaching out to friends and loved ones with the secret hope that they’d understand but NOT try to stop them?
Stephanie asked herself these questions as she squatted down to pick up the large bottle of Tylenol PM. She straightened up again, feeling oddly guilty and feeling oddly puzzled by how easy it was to procure the tablets for the off-label purpose she was going to use them for. She also wondered if it would be weird to ask the pharmacist what a lethal dose was for a woman her weight. Fearing being turned in to the police, she decided against asking. Instead, she made her way over to the checkout counter with the young cashier totally oblivious to the purpose of the pills.
Stephanie left the drugstore and drove over to the nearby liquor store. She felt uncomfortable walking in, despite being plenty old enough to be in there. She paused in the parking lot, unsure if she should go to the grocery store across the street. Liquor stores were always a little bit shady to her, as if nice people never shop at liquor stores.
She shrugged her shoulders, who cares? It’s not like anyone I know will be seeing me. It took her a while to find was she was looking for, a bottle of Seagram’s she’d had once before. She found it weird that she wasn’t even carded. She must have looked mature or they just didn’t care.
After she left the store, she drove to the park, sat in her seat, and pondered what to do. She decided the liquor came in handy. She opened it up, took a deep swig, and let the copper liquid slide down her throat. She sat a moment, looked at the people walking their dogs and riding bikes, in front of her car. When they passed, she took another deep swig. By now, the warmth was spreading in her belly.
She took her notepad and a pen…and got out of the car. She went for a walk around three quarters of the pond and sat down by the retaining wall and started writing.
An hour later, the raw feeling in her heart was still present but at least she didn’t feel quite so anxious. Feeling not really here but not really anywhere either…and realizing that for all the writing she’d done, she hadn’t made any clear decisions. She still felt the sharp ache in her heart. The walk and the booze and the pretty scene did nothing to take away the searing pain she felt in the center of her chest. Her cellphone rang and it snapped her out of her thoughts. When the call was over, she had made at least one decision.
She needed to go home and say good night to her family because her children were almost ready for bed.
(to be continued…)
for suicide help
the suicide paradigm – it’s not really suicide, but penacide – the end to pain