It has been only in the last six months that I have missed my husband. He killed himself almost 2 years ago. At first I was frozen in disbelief and confusion. Only later did I begin to feel anger and despair. At last I am able to love him and miss him.
I took this picture of him 3 weeks before he died. At that time I insisted on taking day trips every weekend because his mental decline was so rapid. On that weekend we went to see the pueblos in the salt plains area of New Mexico. Early Franciscan churches were built in three pueblos in the late 1400’s. This picture I took at Gran Quivera, the largest pueblo. Rich was singing the ” Salve Regina” in the ruins of the church there. The acoustics are still fantastic in those old ruins and Rich’s soaring tenor gave glory to God that day.
It had probably been ten years since Rich had sung the Salve. For the first few years of our marriage we would sing it most nights. I usually stopped singing just to listen to him sing alone. That day, at Gran Quivera, Rich said he wanted his ashes scattered there when he died. I guess he had already decided what he was going to do but I had no real intuition of his intention.
I was pretty much on my own taking care of Richard. His psychiatrist was unable to regulate his medications that were no longer giving him relief. We tried several psychiatrists but because of our rather poor health insurance none of the psychiatrist with a good reputation would see him. His psychotherapist was telling Rich what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to know. We had a pastor that I later learned felt suicide was inevitable and I don’t think he really tried to help. He felt Rich’s salvation was secure and that was enough. Rich’s family had always been in denial about his condition. His father killed himself at age 53, the same age as Rich. Both he and his father had bi-polar mental illness.
This is pretty familiar story to the families of people who kill themselves. Often it is bi-polar disorder and good help is hard to find. I was seeing a therapist who thought I should leave Rich. I was angry with Rich and often unable to respond to him emotionally but I couldn’t break a vow I made to him and to God. Nor could I have lived with myself if I had left him. I thought he would have been lost without me although he blamed me for many of his problems.
The funny thing was that we could always talk in the mornings over our coffee. We would spend a good half hour just talking and being together each morning until the day he died. What I would give to have coffee with him now. I am glad I miss him and cry for him. How much better than being frozen in confusion and anger.