Nine years ago yesterday, I went about my business, never knowing that, a couple of hours after midnight, my life would change forever.
When Brendan and I found Jim outside, I couldn't even touch him. He was breathing, still, but I could see the hole in his head and there was blood everywhere. I was afraid, I think, of being sucked into the maelstrom with him. And afraid that he wouldn't feel like my Jim. There was no comfort I could give him. Comfort is, after all, for the living.
I've tried to remember him like this wedding picture, rather than that mental image I just described, and I usually succeed. Like this, or in motion. Teaching a class. Directing a show. Building something. Painting something. Writing something, and chuckling at what he had written.
At such times, I have to get a firm grip and remind myself that his suicide was about him. How could it be about me? Still...There are those moments that come unbeknownst and stay forever. One such is the look in Jim's eyes as I kissed him that last night. At the time, I couldn't figure out what was going on, and it bothered me while I was trying to go to sleep. In hindsight, it was anguish. Would it have helped if I had asked him what was wrong?
He wanted me to get the house back the way his mother had kept it...but I couldn't. He had hurt his back a few months before, when we moved into the house, and the place was crammed to the max with antiques. Not to mention that he had given away her contemporary furniture (and mine...and his) to make room for all the things he could not bring himself to sell or donate to a museum. He felt like a failure for not looking after all the things the way his mother, grandmother, great aunts and every ancestor back to the Civil War had done. Every single piece held memories for him, and he hoarded the memories the same way he hoarded the furniture.
I have said before that it seemed he cared more for the stuff than he did for me. His letter instructed me in the disposal of all of it, but the law had other ideas. I did the best I could.
Yesterday, I was thinking about the way I had gone about on that day, with no inkling it was my last day with him.
I'm glad I told him I loved him before I went to bed.