Phone Call From a Friend
It was one of the worst nights of my life, that night when you called me from that bar. You were drunk, of course, and who could blame you? An unloving spouse who had, in spite of your best efforts, cast you out. You felt like a burden to your daughter, in spite of your immense love, support and hard work, an embarrassment was the word you used. It broke my heart. The depression you had been struggling with finally overwhelmed you when she said those four awful words.
I want a divorce
And now there you were, alone, drunk, and still drinking. And there I was, hundreds of miles away, helpless to pull you back from the ledge you were approaching. I knew your pain, had watched it unfold over the years, always bearing it with a smile. Now the weight was too much, and there was no one to help you hold it. You thought you were less of a man for it. You were wrong. You were human, with a limit, a capacity, for how much pain one heart could hold. As you poured out that pain over the phone, my heart broke again. I wanted to badly to be there with you. To hug you, look you in the eye and tell you it would be ok, to know you believed me.
You told me you'd made up your mind. That you had said goodbye to your only child before you left, had apologized to her and told her to remember you love her. Any pretense I'd had that you were possibly "just upset" disappeared. I began to realize my old friend, one of few true kindred spirits, my family, was serious. That he wanted to, planned to, and had dedicated himself to ending his life. I pleaded, I got angry, I was hard on you, I pleaded some more. I was so certain if I could just say the right thing, I could bring you back. Remind you how much you are needed, how much you are loved. I told you to picture your daughter's face as they told her that her Daddy was never coming home. I was sure the imagery would get through. Certainly no one could imagine such a thing and continue on the path to suicide. You were so sure you were doing the best thing for her by being gone.
When you insisted on hanging up because you could hear my own young daughter crying in her crib, you were driving...and so drunk you could hardly focus on your own words.I told you over and over to park your car. You told me you did, but I wasn't convinced. I made you promise to call me in the morning. As if somehow that promise would tether you to this Earth, this life. You answered me vaguely, I demanded your promise. When you finally gave it, the moment I heard you say "I promise, I will call you in the morning.", it felt like a lie. I wracked my brain for something I could do, someone I could call, realizing as I scanned through contact and friend lists, that our one mutual friend was unreachable. I cried, desperate, terrified that it was happening that very moment.
One of the longest, worst nights of my life ensued as I lay away watching the clock, tears came and went, and when the first light of morning began to peek through my window, I picked my phone up off the nightstand and waited. And waited. When at last I could stand it no longer, exhausted and afraid of what the morning had brought with it, I sent you a text.
You promised to call in the morning.
Waiting. Waiting. I took a shower, the baby woke, I fed her, and I nearly leapt out of my chair when the phone buzzed.
I want you to know that nothing short of my own wedding day, the birth of my daughter, seeing the goddamn Grand Canyon, has ever made my heart soar like those two words did. I don't know if anything I said to you helped, and I don't care. What I care about is my friend had made it through the darkest night and lived to see the dawn. And he will be ok.
No matter how bleak things are...remember you are loved, you are needed, and you, too, will be OK.