1,053 days, 3 hours and 9 min….
That’s how long it’s been since I received the phone call that changed my life, changed my son’s life and has left me in a state of limbo ever since.
My son’s father Keith completed suicide sometime between August 13 and August 14, 2008, although his death is listed officially as the latter date. I’m not too clear on the details, I only know that his body was discovered after his ex-girlfriend (girlfriend, fiancée… the title changed right away) saw him in her garage, assumed he was sleeping and called the police thinking he was violating a restraining order. I then learned he had just been released from jail after two weeks and that he had called three people the night before and said he was going to kill himself. No one believed him.
Keith’s mother called me at 8:30 am told me what he had done and shattered my world. I remember screaming, screaming loud enough to wake up every one that was still sleeping in the house, I apparently startled my neighbor also. My screams woke up our son Owen, and then I had to tell him his daddy was dead. I could not tell him how. I still haven’t and need to find a way to do so before he gets older and finds out otherwise.
Although we had been broken up for a few years when he died, Keith’s death and learning the manner in how he died removed a very big chunk of me and has left me hollow. I don’t nor will I paint a pretty picture of it always being easy between us because it wasn’t. I could try to explain the complexities of our relationship but that would create a book. Prior to his death, our relationship and then co-parenting relationship could be volatile and downright frustrating. I had ended our relationship once I had learned of drug use and his behavior towards me had become physical. The arguments afterwards were sometimes even worse. When we were together, I knew he had a lot of internal demons, some that I foolishly thought I could help him with at the time, although I did manage to break through his barrier of distrust. He shared many secrets with me all of which I keep ‘til this day. Even with the bad, there was a lot of the good. He could be a wonderful person, sweet and gentle, he was a talented artist. He had a smile that could light my insides and eyes that changed color according to his mood which I knew well. Our son adored him, loved him…they were best friend.
I don’t know exactly why, but during the last seven or eight months of his life. It felt like Keith and I had found a balance. We were able to have a phone conversation that didn’t end in an argument; we were able to make decisions as parents together in regards to our son. We were on the path to becoming friends again like we were before and I loved it. The last time I saw him alive was when he had driven up to watch our son play a soccer game. We had so much fun that day and that’s one of the things I cherish as a final memory.
When I look back, as I often do, I know that he has always exhibited symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder, maybe something deeper. I knew that he had attempted suicide twice prior to meeting me; I think people at the time were in denial about his mental illness and instead gave him whatever he wanted. He was a spoiled child and adult, the last in his family of six kids…The Baby.
It is now 1,053 days 5 hours and 32 minutes later, I still wish with all my heart that he had not lost hope and made one last phone call.