(Caution – Very graphic and may trigger PTSD)
February 10, 2016 is a day that will always haunt me. It started off early, my wife at the time and I have a 12 week old puppy. We went early morning shopping. From the moment I woke up I had a bad feeling, but I shook it off. My ex wife and I spent time at the apartment we lived in and even went to her grandmother’s. At 3:13 pm my mother texts me and asks If I’ve seen my step dad. I call her immediately, she sounds panicked. She said she was going to her apartment and asked if I would meet her there. My step dads sister, Joan was there. They were estranged but Bruce’s mother was worried since he hasn’t been to her house. We had a special knock when one of us come over. He was very cautious, almost paranoid but I didnt pay enough attention. I was wrapped up in my life. We knocked on the door, screen was locked. Back door was locked. Mom began to panic and I started to worry. I went next door to the handy man’s house and asked for assistance, per my mother’s request. He opened the screen door, I used my key to unlock the main door to keep mom back. I knew what was about to happen. I knew somewhere in the apartment was something that would create a vortex of emotion and fear, but I was not prepared for not ensued. I opened the door, immediately told the handy man to get my mother out of there and asked Joan to call 911. My stomach churned. That smell was something indescribable. I entered the apartment cautiously. Kitchen light was on, the TV was on to CNN but he wasn’t on the couch. I slowly turned to the hallway and the smell got worse. I tried to back away but I heard my mom fighting to go inside. I knew I had to locate my step dad before anything else happened. I opened the bathroom door, the smell worsened. I held my breath, closed my eyes and pulled the shower curtain just enough to expose his face. There it was. There was the inevitable I never honestly thought was possible. I quickly shut the curtain, closed the door and walked outside. My mother was standing there watching my body language and facial expressions. I couldn’t stop it. My mom crumbled. I heard an earth shattering scream. At that moment the apartment manager showed up and held my mom. I couldn’t function. I stood at the door of the apartment and stared. I tried to process, how in the world could my step dad, Bruce of all people do this. Why didn’t he ask for help? If I would have paid more attention I could have helped more. Maybe I could save him. The police got there, asked me about any problems with depression, any verbalization of contemplating suicide. I knew he was depressed, I would guess at one point or another he would have contemplated suicide. He lost his first wife to suicide. But I didn’t know if he ever actually did. The coroner finally got there. I had gone in and gotten his wallet and found his cellphone we never knew he had. I asked the coroner to cover him after they got him out of the tub. I refused to tell my mother what I saw. When I found Bruce he had slit large crosses into both wrists, nicked his artery in his neck and some how managed to stab two knives in his chest. I thought I had imagined all this. There was no way a person can ensue that much pain upon himself. The cops had us go to the station and we got asked questions. We were there for four hours. After we were released, I drove my mom to her best friends house. Aunt Lisa I call her. After I got mom inside I called my sister autumn who lives in Washington state. Someone had to tell her, I’d rather it be me. We call each other “best sister friends”. She happened to be at work so I asked her to call me when she got a chance. She immediately called me in tears. I couldn’t cry, my sister and mom needed me. My brother in law happened to be deployed to Qatar and I told him not to worry about coming home just to finish his job. I would take care of my sister. My mother refused to stay with me that night in fear of making it harder for me, I took her to a friend of ours, someone I knew cared for my mother’s well-being. I went home. Told my ex wife what happened and stared at a wall for the entire night. I got up that morning and went to the restroom. I stood staring at the bathroom door. My ex wife asked me if I was ok, I turned to face her and crumbled to the floor. As I began sobbing I remember saying I’m scared. I’m afraid of a bathroom. I called my sister though a video chat and she kept my mind set to one thing literally every time. All I saw when I would walk in there was moms bathroom and finding Bruce in a tub. I flew my sister in on my birthday,February 13th. I picked her up from the airport and just sobbed in her arms once she got there. That’s what I needed. My sister. My safe haven. Never considering that she needed me too. We buried him on February 20th. I couldn’t dreams of what would happen that day. Bruce’s family, they never cared much for Bruce, they labeled my mother as a “special friend” in his obituary. 17 years a woman gave her life to this man as his family threw him away, just to throw her to the side like they did to Bruce. After we buried him I returned to work. I saw doctors, support groups and friends when things got dark. It’s been months, the nightmares haven’t ceased. My marriage fell apart, frankly I’m thankful for that and I lost many friendships by shutting everyone out. Medications made me numb but didn’t take the memories away. Talking brought them back and today October 1st 2016, I’m telling the full story. I’ve never been brave enough to get through everything. It’s been rough, I find some days are worse than others. I’ve heard the day you cry is a good day. I do my best to allow myself to cry. I still have his favorite shirt. I hold it and cry when it hits the hardest. But I’m recovering. I am a survivor. It hurts but that reminds me I’m still human. I have finally been able to admit I am glad he committed suicide. He is finally free from pain and judgement. I miss him every day. But I know he’s free.
This is my story, I know it’s not much; but it’s mine. Thank you for reading.