I have been putting off writing this article for a very long time, yet I know I need to write it. Today I feel like maybe I can.
This is about grief and suicide. It’s about life after death. Most importantly it’s about love.
The reason I have been absent from the blog for so long is that last year I found out that my dearest friend, Russell, committed suicide. Even though he is my dearest friend, we had not spoken since December of 2012. I was in a bad place, once again experiencing major depression, chronic pain, and entering into a dark night of the soul. He tried so hard to pull me out of it but his words hit me wrong, so I walked away.
At the end of that month, I moved in with my parents temporarily. Being in a safe place and having some of life’s stress removed from my care, I began to get better. Every now and then I would leave a voice mail or send an email to Russ, inviting him to contact me.
In January of 2015 I had a major shift in my spiritual belief system. Being that he was an atheist I wanted to discuss my questions with him. So again I left a message and sent an email. About a month later it occurred to me that since he had not returned my calls for a couple of years maybe he really was done with me. In the past we could go a couple of months without talking and then pick right back up. But he wasnt responding this time.
So, I sent one more email telling him that I loved him, telling him that if he really was done with me then I understood but that I wanted him to know that he was important to me , that I knew he would be with me everywhere I go.
I hit send, turned off my light and settled in to sleep. Only I couldn’t. My mind was racing with thoughts of him, thoughts of trying to find out for sure if he really didn’t want anything to do with me.
We met in 1983, when I was 23 and he was 38. For me it was love at first sight. We dated for a few months but then he decided that my mindset was too serious and he wanted to just have fun. So he broke up with me. I listened to what he had to say. I left his apartment and went to my car to go home but I just sat there. I really really didn’t want to lose him. I was hurting so much and I didn’t want to have it end this way, painfully. So I got out of the car and went back to his door and knocked. When he opened it I simply said ” I don’t want it to end this way”. He opened the door wider, I went in and we talked.
Over time we became the best of friends and lovers. We had hours long conversations on the phone. We shared each other’s music and books, I could name every woman he dated and what he liked about them. But underneath this cover of friendship, I was still in love with him. I was waiting it out. Sometimes it was painful and difficult to listen to him talk about other women. We often talked about what qualities existed in his idea of a perfect woman and relationship, a topic we called The One. I always believed that I was The One and prayed that one day he would recognize that. Other days, we would argue and fight, I would drop to my knees and thank god that I had not married him!
We had our own magic. There were times when we were so intimate that he could look in my eyes and read my mind. I could call him on the phone when I was having a meltdown and he had the perfect words to pour over my head like warm honey, calming me and helping me change perspective.
I was there for him in his other dark times. After he stopped working due to disability, a time came when he ran out of money. He was close to suicide. He called me and asked me to find some way to help him, so I did. I gathered information he needed to apply for early Social Security. I obtained the funds from a church to pay his rent. I found out all the community services available to help him financially and emotionally. I made appointments for him, I handled his check book and saw that his bills were paid. I made arrangements with his other friends to bring him food. I coached him on how to handle people at his appointments in order to get the desired outcome. This went on for months and it was very draining for me. Sometimes he would take his frustrations out on me and I would want to step away from all of it but he would beg me to stay. I loved him deeply, so I stayed. He trusted me more than anyone else in his life.
And we got through it.
Russell did things to help me in my life as well. He possessed a wealth of information. Before the days of Google, if I needed to know something I could always get the best answer from him. He never failed me. He helped me practice my public speaking. He was always interested in my personal growth and tried to help. He was always my cheerleader.
After the ordeal he went through he became more interested in what makes me tick. He knew so much about me already but now it seemed that he wanted to understand the why of how I thought.
One day he thanked me for being who I was because, he said, I taught him more about how to love. He perceived that I demanded that he love me and express that love in a way that I could feel and relate to. He tried harder to do that. Many times he nailed it. No one else in my life could get into my thoughts and emotions, no one else could read my mind like he could. This was so important to me because due to a childhood trauma I had a hard time letting people into my life to love me.
That night in February I started searching for him online. His various social accounts were all active but when I searched his address through the white pages I found that the listing for his address showed the previous resident was deceased.
“Ah”, I thought, he must have had that heart attack that was always just around the corner. I had to know what happened to him. Several more searches and I found the listing for him with the Medical Examiners office. It stated the cause of death was suicide in April of 2013. Well, shit!
I contacted the Medical Examiner’s office and they gave me a copy of the autopsy. Russ had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
The details are just too grisly. I felt stunned. I was so shocked; I felt my vision blur and my chest tighten. I read it over and over because I simply could not believe it! I remembered then that he had always told me this would be the way he died if he ever became seriously ill. Well, that was a thought then, maybe he had been sick.
I called the manager of the apartments. He told me that Russ had been in a lot of pain. When I talked to his sister-in-law she told me that a prescription for prostate medicine had arrived at the apartment after his death. Ok, one and one is two, Russ must have done this because of the pain he was in and a fear of cancer. Contrary to popular opinion I respect a person’s right to end their life. I only wish I could have been there for him and that his passing could have been gentler.
I also found out when I talked to her that they had not claimed his ashes. Almost 2 years had gone by and they had not claimed him! The thought of his remains sitting on a shelf in some warehouse was heartbreaking. So I claimed him and brought him home. He is in a box in my closet now, and a part of him is in a silver heart I wear around my neck.
The shock wore off after a couple of weeks, I cried a lot. I began grieving. I talked to him, I wrote letters to him and I cried some more.
I had never lost someone this close to me and in this manner. I didn’t know what to expect or how to process it. I made a playlist of songs that reminded me of him, of us, or how I was feeling about him or how I had felt about him. I played it constantly for a while and it gave me a release valve for my emotions. I felt very guilty for not being there when he needed someone. He didn’t leave a note. It was 3 months from the time I had stopped speaking to him in December 2012 to his death on April 1st, 2013. I wondered what would have happened if he had felt he could talk to me. I wondered if I could have been a better friend. Would it have made a difference?
I laid awake in bed many nights telling him I was sorry.
One night, incredibly, he paid me a visit! This was the first contact he made with me since I found out he was gone. ( I believe now that the urge to find him came from him). He came to me in a dream. In the dream we were in his apartment and his ex-wife was there too. Russ was sleeping on the couch and she and I were cleaning his kitchen. We talked about how sick he was. Then I was in the living room and I was standing behind him as he sat on a footstool. I had my arms around his neck, my face buried in his hair. I could feel the silky softness of his hair and I could smell him. I was telling him how much I loved him. I was giving him reassuring words that everything was going to work out and that I was there for him. I was telling him all the things I wished I could have said before he died. When I stopped talking, I was flooded with his love.
It came over me like a soft cloud, emotions cascading over and through me. I felt his love for me! I felt his happiness at being healed, I felt him reassure me that he is ok now and he is truly happy. He is safe and well. Again and again he told me how much he loved me too, not with words but a sharing of the knowing of it. The quality of this dream was such that I believe in my heart and mind it was real, that he really came to me to tell me these things. This wonderful man who could read my mind found a way to reach out from the spiritual plane to touch me again.
I found myself talking to him off an on, in my mind. I invited him to visit me in my dreams. Now and then I will hear a song on the radio that expresses something about our relationship so perfectly and I know that this is one way he speaks to me.
Several months later the most marvelous thing happened while I was driving down the highway. I was thinking of Russell and then I heard him in my mind. He told me that in this lifetime he had learned how to love me and in our relationship in this life I had learned to find my voice. He told me that this was the reason we had both been here together in this life, after having been together in so many lifetimes and experiencing so many tragic relationship failures. This time we had learned the lesson and our karma had been answered. He promised me that in the next life we share together we would indeed have the relationship that we had longed for.
Believing in reincarnation, having discussed that belief with him many times, I felt nothing less than absolute joy at this revelation!
Karma is such an elusive idea, most of the time we just wonder and hope to figure out why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing. We follow our hearts or expectations and hope for the best. I feel extremely fortunate to be allowed to know this one aspect of my karma, to know that I am successful in answering it! What a gift indeed.
I know there are many reasons why I am living this life, at this time. My relationship with Russell is a big reason, but not the only one. There are other reasons that may be just as profound. Knowing now what I know about my relationship with Russell informs me about the beauty of life.
The biggest insight of all is that life goes on. Clearly there is no heaven or hell, life is eternal right now. Life always has been, and always will be! We don’t have to earn an eternal life, we don’t need to be saved from anything in order to enjoy a positive outcome after living a life here on earth. As humans, we come from life, we live a life, we return to the source place of life, and again and again, because we are life and we have manifested ourselves in order to improve our experience.
I am grateful. I am grateful to have known Russell in my life at this time in the cycle of my many lives. I am grateful to have heard from Russell after he left this earth and grateful to know he is alive somewhere and that he wants to and does speak to me. I am grateful to know without doubt that he loved me and still does. I am grateful to know that we will be together, in fact that we are never really apart.
I am grateful for love!
Have you lost someone to suicide? Have you been visited by a departed loved one? What have you learned? Please tell me!