Saturday, January 18, 2014

JAN 18, 2014 - Truth can set one free...

* Song of the Day: Alice & Chains- Don't Follow

        It's been almost 8 1/2 years since I was in my last relationship with live in boyfriend, Brad of almost 5 years.  It's been almost 8 1/2 years of withholding a secret from my daughter, Audrey, about the circumstances surrounding his death.  It's been almost 8 1/2 years of continually dancing around questions about why I cry every November; and why I absolutely hate seeing, passing, and going to our old house which we live 1/4 mile away from now.  Finally 8 1/2 years later I decided it was time to tell her the truth.  That time was yesterday. 
        I believe this may be a beginning of a new understanding and relationship between Audrey and I.  I couldn't take it anymore... skirting around her questions and suspicions year after year.  
       I'll never forget that day.  It has impacted my life for almost a decade, and continues to. We lived in a second house my parents own and rented out.     We concluded that it was time to move our separate ways, but remain friends.   
      We woke up that cold November day, shared breakfast, and watched TV for about an hour together.  His moving truck was set to arrive 3 days later.  He had purchased a duplex he planned to live in on one side, and fix the other to rent out.   

       Later that morning he had a PCP appointment scheduled around 11.  He returned very upset, stating the doctor had given him antidepressant samples.  He said he didn't want to take medicine daily to be "normal," and adamantly opposed SSRI's.  I told him it would be okay, plenty people do, and he'd be fine. 

       I said I was going to visit my friend Jeanne at Sunoco in Seven Fields, where I worked part time, and I'd be back in 20 minutes.  He followed me out the door, and said goodbye.  I got into my car, waved and said I'll see you soon.  I left, visited for 10 minutes, and returned.

        Upon entering our house, the first thing I saw was a bottle of scotch sitting out on the counter. This was unusual, however I knew he was upset when I left so really thought nothing of it.  I walked through the living room, and all I heard was white noise coming from the computer.  I called out for Brad, and there was no response.  I called again as I turned the corner to go up the stairs toward our bedroom.  Again there was no response, and only the hum of white noise filled my ears.
         I started up the stairs, and saw him sitting on the top stair.  I said, "Brad, what's going on ?"  I continued walking up the stairs.  I started to see red spots on the carpet and on the walls around and behind him.  I continued up the stairs, and as I got closer I realized he was shirtless, slumped slightly towards the right, but still mostly in an upright position. 
       I was almost 2 stairs away from him when my mind finally registered seeing a gun laying in his right hand, a small whole in his chest, and spots of blood on his face.  I didn't understand what had happened at first.  My brain then slowly wrapped around exactly what I was looking at; Brad had shot himself.  I touched his lips with my finger and they were cold and blue. 
        I immediately went into hysterics.   I called 911 and was screaming into the phone.  The dispatcher could hardly understand me, I kept saying, "I think he's dead, come, hurry, I think he's dead, he's not breathing."  I gave her my address, and told her he was still holding a small hand gun.  I let her know I didn't touch anything but his lips, and they were blue and like ice. I starting to hyperventilate, becoming more hysterical as the seconds passed.  She then instructed me to start giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation.  I thought are you fucking kidding me ?, saying I was pretty positive he was dead.  She insisted, and I attempted for what seemed to be forever.  In reality it was probably only a minute and a half, but nothing seemed real at that point.  I then heard my door open and footsteps running up toward me.  It was my neighbor Jeff, who is a volunteer fireman.  He grabbed my arm, pretty much carried me down the stairs, and sat me in a chair outside.  
         He heard the 911 dispatched on his scanner, and since he knew we had Audrey in the house who was about 6, he thought maybe she had accidentally gotten a hold of the gun.  The police and ambulance arrived within seconds after being sat outside, and all I could do was sit, cry, and just stare at what seemed to be nothing.  The police entered the house and it took them 2 minutes to determine it was self inflicted. They brought the gun out in a brown paper bag.  I continued to sit, stare, and was still in disbelief. 

       I then thought shit, Audrey is going to be off school soon and coming home.  I called family friends and asked them to pick her up from Alpha directly, which they did and kept her for hours.  Coincidentally, my parents had left to drive to Florida 4 hrs earlier, and I called them crying, telling them what happened.
        My mom said she would take the first flight home, and that she would call her sister, her brother, and my brother to come directly to the house.  While waiting  for them, I called Brad's mom at work.  I was again hardly understandable, but got some words out.  She then just asked, " Amber, is he gone, is he gone, Amber?"  I said, "Yes," and then total silence on both ends.  She then composed herself, and told me she was to go get Laura, (Brad's sister) and would be at our house ASAP. 

      They arrived, but by then the morgue picked his body up, and my uncle and brother pulled up the carpet on the top stairs, and tried to wipe most of the blood off the walls.  
       I told Audrey that Brad went camping with his dad for a couple days, while waiting for my mom to return.  Finally 4 days later my mom got back, and we told Audrey he had accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun.  

        This was the only father figure she had known for almost the last 5 years, and was there through the cancer and dog bite. It was devastating to her. I didn't want to tarnish his image with her;  or have her think that Brad was so hopeless that this was his only option.

          Fast forward 8 1/2 years, thousands of $$ of therapy, medication, and 2 hospitalizations later, the guilt still has not let up one bit.  
         If I would have only stayed home those 20 minutes, if I had only tried better at our relationship, if I only had...   

        My life will never be the same, the guilt hasn't disappeared; but tomorrow I don't have to lie to my daughter which brings some relief.

        In memorial of Brad residential housing has been donated in his name to Clarion University by his father.  Some days I'm incredibly angry I can't see straight, some days I'm so very sad getting out of bed is not an option, but most days I just miss my friend.