Goodbye, Barbara

Blind-sided. Saw something coming when the caller ID showed her son’s name. Please let her just be in the hospital. He found her yesterday. She’d been laying there for days. Took some pills and slit her ankles.
Thinking, “I should have been watching her more closely. I should have called her while I was out of town. I should have…”

Spring weather came today, a few days late. Can’t we just fix it… rewind?

She was here last week, so sad and depressed, wilted, gray, just wanted me to rub her feet. Ahh, a little life, a little tiny hope. I had been having her over every week or so to cook a stew or soup for me. She loved cooking, and it got her out of the house. And I got some yummy food! Normally she loves what she cooks. This time, she wouldn’t even taste it. Not hungry. I should’ve seen it…

Spring weather came just a few days late. She liked to garden, loved puttering and cleaning and LOVED compost, she had the best fuckin’ compost anywhere, made with love and lots of garbage. Please, can’t we just rewind?

She never took shit, and was happy to tell you you were full of it, but she was real, bottom line, honest as fuck. Lots of folks just saw that rough side, and not how she really cared, and how she didn’t want to bullshit her compassion. She was 100% un-PC, no bullshit honest. She was refreshing in a deceitful and superficial world. And I didn’t have to prove anything around her.

Please, please, can we just…please! Why? Why??
Please come back. I’ll be here for you. I’ll try a little harder. I’ll try to see beyond my own selfishness. I’ll try to see your pain more clearly. Please…

She had tried this before, and only succeeded in drowning her pet rat. She went through counseling and was on meds, and in general was doing OK. But recently, she began to sink again, into the hole of darkness, where the only light is a little dim flicker far above you, but the only way to get there is to end it, the pain the despair, the darkness, so then there’s only the relief of the light.

She had just gotten a job, after losing several because of her blatant honesty about everyone and everything, and also because of her foul mouth. She was working in the deli of a Fresh Market that just opened. They were totally disorganized. She told me they didn’t even have employee training. She pointed out some food safety issues, like under-cooked chicken, but her superiors didn’t like being upped, so she was summarily moved to the cold and thankless job of cutting fruit starting at 6AM. A few days later she quit. She said it was HELL. Spiral down.

The Spring weather came a few days late…

Please come back. Please let me comfort you, rub your feet.

She was dicked over 4 years ago by her lover of 20 years, who had become her husband the last five. Pretty much as soon as they got married, he started pulling away, insulting her, using racist slurs (she was Jewish, but didn’t practice any religion), calling her ugly, fat, pitiful, then he had an affair, and wanted out. Sometime in the middle of this chaos of emotional confusion, he had her sign something, lying about what it was. It was a legal document which promised him half of the fairly large inheritance she had gotten from her father. Then he said “fuck you very much, bitch” and ran off with his new lover (whom he has since dumped, after ruining her marriage). In other words, this guy was a piece of work. But she felt a unique connection with him, perhaps thinking she could save his deranged soul. She thought she was the exception. She never recovered; from what he did, the way he did it, and the way he cut her off, even after she forgave him and hoped for a little contact. This guy had a stone heart.

Please, can I just give you one more hug? Feel your plump round body? Listen to you spout off about how fucked up the world is? Watch your big mouth heave it’s righteous truth toward me? Have you tell me you love me again? Please forgive me, Barbara.

I’ve been where she was, and a close friend just happened to notice the signs, and took me to the hospital. I spent a week crying and learning to forgive myself for being sad, hopeless, lost. I came around. I have a busy , fulfilling life, which buoyed me. I have many friends and family who love me and forgive my weaknesses. Could I have done better for Barbara? I was her only real friend in the end. But that wasn’t enough. The hole is deep and dark, and the pain unbearable, and the light so hypnotic and alluring. Once you’ve been there, it’s even more alluring, enticing, hypnotic.

She tried to call here Saturday night. I was practicing. I was here. I was here. I was here. I was busy getting ready for an audition. She didn’t leave a message. Deadly silence. I never knew she called until my house-mate told me her number showed on the caller ID for Saturday at 10PM.

Please, Barbara, call again. I’ll answer this time. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please, give me another chance.

We live our lives never really knowing what comes after. It is the unanswered question. We have no choice but to GIVE meaning to our lives, to invent it, make it, create it, find it, share it. Because the real answer to the question doesn’t exist. I’ll never know where she went, but I hope it’s peaceful, and I hope she can forgive me. And I hope I can learn from her untimely death, and change my life to reflect her tragedy. I hope to gather my friends and family a little closer, see them more often, listen more carefully, give more time. What else can I do? The rewind button doesn’t exist.

Here is a poem by Josephine Jacobsen called “The Suicides”

There is much confusion about
the suicides: those who reject
us. It is those who take dark as an end

in itself who have that claim. They put
the finger of darkness on all motion
toward or away, and on the changes

of blood or sun. They have conquered
nature, where every insect, tiger, crab
fights death, this being the sole passion

shared absolutely. Which best
rejects life? The hound, grieving
to death is only craving fresh

life for his master. And we call
suicides those for whom the tunnel
of possibility has narrowed, closes

before them. A gracious couple
enamored of life came to that tunnel’s
end, and like Etruscan figures

lay side by side. They wanted
nothing so much as life. No;
the suicides belong to each other,

fraternal in solitude–
A rage of hunger for the void,
a shared lust for zero.

Being exclusively human, this is
like all humans, mysterious.
Without inducement the beasts live

to live. Often “he/she had everything
to live for,” we say. This is the thing
itself, exclusively human. Authentic.

Goodbye, Barbara.
Thank you for your life.
Mine feels hollow without you.