[Trigger warning for suicidal threats.]
Last Saturday, Jenna’s husband threatened to kill himself…again…for the fourth time in their 15 year long marriage. He was a good man most of the time, when he wasn’t drinking. Caring and loving. Jenna could never really understand what compelled her husband to act this way. Of course, she knew this time and felt really guilty for her part in it.
When he went downstairs and lingered a while, and that made Jenna nervous. The gun safe was there. She knew that every time he got this upset, that’s where he’d go. They’d gone through this scenario before, and Jenna had to expend a lot of energy and ingenuity to try and talk him down. She had to show that she cared, while attempting to be detached from it, a task she was ill-equipped for.
She never knew she needed training for suicide intervention when she walked down the aisle.
By the time she got into the room, he’d pulled out two of his many handguns and tried to find the corresponding cartridges. He had so many and he was irrational, and couldn’t find what he was looking for.
She begged him to stop. And he declined, saying, “No, this is the only thing that’s going to make anything better. You’ll all be better off without me and you know it.”
She blanched and then remembered the agreement she drew up and presented to him after the last time this happened. It said if he went to the gun cabinet again, she was going to call 911 for outside intervention. He’d read the agreement, and verbally consented to what it said.
She forced herself to go back upstairs to find a phone and returned to him, still at the gun cabinet trying to find the right cartridges. She dialed 911 into the phone, and said, “if you don’t stop right now, I’m going to hit dial and call the police out here.”
Jack replied, “I can pull the trigger before they’d ever get here.”
And that’s when her mind just froze.
Jenna was paralyzed while she tried to process what he just said. From a faraway place in her head, she declared with in a monotone way that belied her growing panic, “If you have to do it, then take it elsewhere and not at home because the kids are sleeping”.
Jack put the guns down, and left the basement and went upstairs. He fumbled around upstairs, and something crashed in the kitchen as he went out the back door. He left the house, without his keys and without his jacket.
She went upstairs and saw the garbage can knocked over, a result of Jack’s hasty escape.
Jenna thought about leaving it, with all the contents spilled all over, but then didn’t want the children to ask questions in the morning so she set about cleaning it up. She locked the door and returned to lay in her bed and wept, certain she sent him to his death.
She laid in bed for a few hours, sick with worry. She didn’t know if she should have called 911 anyway, knowing the state of mind he was in when he left. Maybe he’d find a bridge to jump off. Maybe he’d jump in front of a train. Maybe he did have a gun when he left but she just didn’t see it.
She wondered if she should call the police, but didn’t know if calling the police would have done any good. What if they didn’t believe her that he was a danger to himself? Or alternately, what if they did and went after him, would he have behaved threateningly and would they have thought he was dangerous and they shot him? She had heard of suicide by cop before.
She didn’t know what to do. She felt the worst thing for him to do was to send him away, but since his agitation was escalating and he was increasingly irrational and loud, she felt she had no other choice. She was not about to have him erupt at home, and wake up and traumatize the children again.
While she wrestled with her conscience, she heard something strike at the window, at first once and then twice before she got up to check what it was.
Jack was on the grass outside their bedroom window, with small rocks in his hands. Momentarily, Jenna thought of all the romantic movies in which this scene was a common one: The love-sick modern day Romeo beckoning his Juliet at the window. It would have been lovely if it wasn’t so terribly tragic.
A red-eyed and remorseful Jack said, “I want to come home. Will you let me in?”
Jenna replied, despite the knot of anxiety in her stomach, “Yes”, even as her mind whispered, this could be a mistake.
But whatever black mood plagued him passed as mysteriously as it came on.
Copyright 12/23/12 Casey @ The Sprightly Writer