Since the day that he passed, I have carried around an insurmountable amount of regret and guilt for not verbalizing the red flag that occurred inside my head. For not noticing that the silent demons he was facing and not being able to save him.
In the days before he ended his life, I could tell that something was wrong. He barely smiled, he did not crack his usual dinner table jokes, and he talked with a pain in his voice that I had never heard before. I brushed it off as if he were just tired from the trip he had taken and his lousy sleep schedule. I asked him why he was in such a pissy mood, but all he did was shrug and walk up the stairs.
He has been gone for over a year now, but I still get angry at myself for not picking up on the signs that he was struggling. I should have said something, should have done something. I should have sensed that there was a deeper problem than just a lack of rest. Believe me, if I would have known how depressed he was, I would have taken his hand in my own and I would have conjured up every bit of strength I had to help him conquer his agony.
People have told me not to think this way because if he wanted me to recongzie his emotions, he would have said something. How can I not think this, though? How can I not wish that I could have done something to change the outcome? How could I have failed him? How?
To anyone who feels similar emotions, let me remind you that there are others who feel them too. They are okay, they are normal. They may not always be so healthy, but that does not make them uncommon. It is easy to pick apart every little moment in hopes of finding answers to your questions. The “What if’s” are like a black hole, just waiting to suck you in.
It has taken many tears and sleepless nights to realize that there was nothing I could have done. My father had hit rock bottom and no matter how hard I could have fought to pull him out from underneath the wave of sadness he was trapped beneath, it would have been too late. He was faced with a decision and he made it. It would never have been a choice I would have let him follow through with, but I did not live inside his head. I did not feel his pain or his anger or experience the need to find happiness elsewhere.
Never blame yourself for the unfortunate events that may have occurred in your life because they are not your fault. Losing someone close to you does not mean that you have been a terrible person and you need to be punished. Somewhere, out there, our fates have already been written down and decided. We cannot change the future because we cannot change the unknown. I know it sucks, I know it hurts, and I know that the pain, unfortunately, never really goes away. We can only learn to grow and adapt to our new found reality.
If you ever want to reach out to me, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org