Disclaimer: This post will contain triggers for anyone who has had any kind of battle with mental illness/manic depression/suicide. I would not recommend reading this post to anyone who is not in a stable state of mind. This post WILL be graphic.
Father’s Day is right around the corner. That’s crazy to me because it means the year is half over. That’s insane, right?
Father’s Day also means my four year wedding anniversary is coming up. That’s also crazy to me, but in a good way.
But, while I look forward to Father’s Day to celebrate with my husband the fact that he has managed to tolerate me through four years of marriage on top of three additional years of dating AND been the best father to our darling munchkin, I also kind of hate it.
On November 6th, 2014, I was at work sitting in my cubicle at 3:37 pm waiting for my day to finish dragging and the clock to reach 5:00 so I could go home and see my then eight month old daughter and my husband. But, I got a phone call from Brent and all he said was that I needed to come home. He wouldn’t elaborate or say anything other than the fact that I needed to come and get him and Evie and he would explain when I got home.
Now, time for some background story about my Daddy. He was born in 1954. He and my Momma had been married since 1983. He was a disabled truck driver. He loved us girls fiercely. He was also an alcoholic.
As far as I know, Daddy had always had a love of the bottle, but had stopped drinking hard liquor as much after I was born. For the most part, I only ever remember him drinking beer for most of my life; Miller Lite or Milwaukee’s Best Lite. He would only eat one meal a day (dinner) and drank his breakfast and lunch.
I’m not saying any of this to degrade the memory of my father in anyway; this is all just the plain truth. Anyone who knew him can attest to that. I love my Daddy and I always will, but he had his problems. We just didn’t know how severe they really were until it was too late.
My parents had gone through a messy separation and then attempted to reconcile. When that didn’t work, they had mutually decided to go their separate ways.
The morning of November 6th, 2013, Momma had a conversation with my Dad about the holidays. She had told him he would be more than welcome to come around for the celebrations as long as he didn’t bring any alcohol with him or come after a binge. She didn’t ask him to be completely sober, just not shitfaced. He agreed and was apparently pleased about it. She left to go to the store and a few hours later, came home to my father dead on the couch with a pistol in his hand.
So, without knowing any of this, I left work as fast as I could, the whole time knowing my Dad had done something. I’ll never forget swinging open my front door to see Brent and Evie getting their shoes on and the first thing out of my mouth being “What did Dad do?”
“He shot himself.”
“Is he alive?”
“I don’t know, Beth didn’t say. She’s on her way there now.”
I didn’t miss a beat. I scooped up Evie’s diaper bag and took it down to the car while Brent loaded her in the back seat. He asked me if he could drive and I told him I was fine, climbed into the driver’s side and started the car. I’m thankful he let me drive. I would have had way too much nervous energy to just sit in the passenger seat for the five minute drive to my parent’s home.
When we got there, I remember thinking he must have been alive because there was an ambulance. Apparently, though, our county doesn’t have a morgue transport vehicle and utilizes regular EMS trucks.
One of my sisters approached us as we got out of the car, Brent hung back so we didn’t have to get Evie out. She gave me a hug and I asked if he was alive. She said no. I still hadn’t shed a tear.
I remember Brent calling his mom to tell her the news. I remember her crying on the phone. I think she showed up as well, but I can’t be sure. It’s all a little foggy. I remember calling my mother’s boss to tell him not to expect her to be in. She was supposed to have been there at 3:30 and it was well past 4:30 by the time I thought to call him.
I remember waiting in the neighbors house for the police officers to finish cleaning everything up so we could return to the house. My mother refused to leave. She wouldn’t go home with any of us, so we stayed with her.
Did you know that when someone dies in a home, (at least in our county, anyway) the police typically do not clean up the mess? We were lucky. One of my sisters is a social worker and the police officers knew it. One of her coworkers had come to check on us and went in to give my Dad’s dog a bath as she had curled up next to him. Normally, they would leave the furniture as well, but the police officers had someone come haul the couch away. They even put putty over the hole in the wall the bullet left. I will never forget with the police officers did for our family that day.
Sometimes, I still hate my father. Sometimes, I still think he was the most goddamned selfish bastard. But, we found out after his death he had been diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. It explained so much. He had had the diagnosis since before I was born, but no one knew it. He was prescribed medication, but never took it. We won’t ever know why.
I do know now, that he self-medicated with alcohol.
I know that everyone reading this will think that the reason I have issue with Father’s Day is because I miss my dad and I do. But, what I hate about it the most is I get so fucking angry every Father’s Day. Every year I see people celebrate their dad’s. We celebrate my husband. He deserves to be celebrated. But, in the back of my mind is a voice that talks about how my Dad didn’t love us enough to stick around. He didn’t love my little girl enough to stick around to see her grow up.
And here comes the part where I get all kinds of replies from people saying that that isn’t the case; he was ill; he didn’t know how to get better.
But let me tell you something.
I have earned the right to be pissed. I have earned the right to be as mad as I want to be at my Dad for at least 15 minutes one day a year. I can forgive him the other 364 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes, but this one quarter of an hour, I want to be able to be mad and not be shamed for it. I want to be able to be as mad as I can for one minuscule amount of time a year when I think about my Daddy. The rest of the time, I will spend telling stories about him.
Like how he threw Oreos at a man riding a motorcycle while he sat in the bed of a truck. Or about how he could school the best in pool while rocking about to The Eagles or those Singer and Songwriter albums that used to always be advertised on TV commercials. I will spend the rest of the year thinking about his love of homemade fried chicken and history documentaries and spending nights in our basement watching movies me me and my sisters sitting in the floor in front of his recliner. I will spend that time remembering the Daddy that would record My Little Pony and Thundercats on the same tape for me so we could watch them together when I got off the bus.
I will spend the rest of the time telling people about the resources that are available to those who have these kinds of thoughts. I will make sure my daughter knows about how her Papaw would have given everything he could to his kids. I will make sure my daughter knows how deeply he loved her and all his other grandchildren.
So, this Father’s Day, cherish those fathers/father figures that you have in your life. And, if you need to take some time to be a little pissed, know I am right there with you. But, take it from me: Don’t let the black spot make a black hole out of our day and attitude.
According to the University of Washington’s Mental Health Report, 90% of all people who commit suicide have a mental disorder that can be diagnosed. Don’t become a part of that statistic. If you need help battling thoughts of suicide, please contact the Nation Suicide Prevention Hotline. They are there to help. 1-800-273-8255