The Light at the Other End*

“Keep passing the open windows.” – from The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

Does this man ever fucking blink?

I lay there on the cool white sheets and tried not to look directly at his face.

His presence made me want to squirm. The fact that he seemed to think he had walked into a staring contest that he would be damned if he’d lose made it even worse. He was there to assess me, which meant I was going to have to speak to him.

Answering to people has never much been my strong suit, but there would be no way around it this time.

He seemed a no-nonsense kind of guy, and I didn’t feel like bullshitting him. But, this was a forced encounter, and my options were limited, so I told him exactly what I thought he’d want to hear:

“I won’t do it again. I didn’t really want to die.”

This was true in a sense. I didn’t want to die. But, had I felt more inclined to talk, I might have offered up that I didn’t want to live either. What I wanted was to sleep. Just sleep and never wake up.

He seemed satisfied with my answer. When he was done interrogating me, he pretended to forget I was there and said to my mother, “She’s a smart girl. Can I speak to you in the hall?”

If he had some magical secret that would make me want to live, why couldn’t he tell it to me instead of my mom? That’s honestly what went through my mind at the time. Pretty silly, huh? But, in my defense, I was more than a little groggy from overdosing on my newest anti-depressants. The sad irony of anti-depressants is that they make very effective suicide drugs.

Of course, there is a reason I’m telling you all of this. Today is the ten year anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and I want you to understand that what I’m going to say is coming from someone who has been there.

The ugly fact is that I had to shit out the charcoal they fed me to absorb the drugs. That’s what they do when they pump your stomach. They feed you charcoal.

But, I was lucky – lucky I didn’t blow my brains out the way Cobain did and lucky to have had someone there to drag me to the hospital. I was doubly lucky to have someone there to fight for the life that I wasn’t willing to fight for. My ex-husband saved my life that night. Of all the fights we ever had, I’m glad he won that one.

I was humiliated and as depressed as ever after they pumped my stomach, but at least I was alive.

A couple years later, I gave birth to Charlotte, and I decided she was worth living for until I found a better reason. I still haven’t found a better reason than her, but I do have a long rambling list of additional good reasons to live. (It starts with apple danishes and ends with the zippers on my green jacket.)

So, when I think about Kurt Cobain in the sad lonely place he was in just before his death, I wish he had reached out and found that baby of his instead of the gun. Maybe he’d be alive now and that child would have a father. His daughter has only a tragedy to fill the space where her dad should be.

You have a big responsibility when you have kids. It’s your job to feed and clothe them and to try your damnedest to be there for them. In that split second, Cobain failed as a parent.

There’s a certain point in that downward spiral of suicide where you can catch yourself or let someone else catch you. If you find yourself there, please reach out and be caught so that the people who love you can celebrate your birthday once a year instead of mourning their loss on the anniversary of your suicide. If you give yourself a little more time, you might even find something to smile about.

*After reading this through a few times, I’m fearful that I come off as judgmental. This was not my intention, and I want to clarify something without actually reworking the post. /lazy

When you are living in that moment where you think you want to die, it’s hard to see beyond it to a brighter fu
ture.

Kurt Cobain had an illness. Depression is an illness, and I’m not handing out a judgment. I just wish he had been able to do what I couldn’t do and see past his own self-loathing to what might have become a happy life.

Comments 5

  • Oh my God, a terribly, terribly moving piece of writing, Deb. I can’t believe I am the first to comment. Thanks for sharing something so personal and honest and scary.

  • I never went as far as you did, but I thought about it a lot at one point. The thought of my kids crying always stopped me before my thoughts got too far. Good for you for talking about it.

  • I’m at a very low drama point in my life now, and I finally have peace of mind. Those are two things I never thought I’d be able to honestly say.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had those thoughts as well, but I’m glad you were able to talk yourself out of it.

    Dying young is romanticized on television. But, the reality is that there’s alot to be said for survival and staying around to fight the good fight.

    I’m going to grow old and wear my wrinkles proudly like battle scars. Or, I’ll buy some of that good wrinkle cream. Either way, I’ll be here.

  • Well, you’ve now made me weep, along with the creepy *charcoal* shiver of memory. All I can think to say is “thank you”. You don’t know how much I mean it.

  • Thank you for sharing your moving story. And I agree that people who are attempting suicide should consider the feelings of those who are left behind. That is all.

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