Conveniently, 2017 is the year I started meticulously documenting every single day of my life; referred to at the time as my 365 day journal. We can read exactly what Past Self was thinking and feeling in the days leading up to Daniel’s suicide. Like a book, we can follow the tragic love story of Daniel and Katherine and watch as the star crossed lovers are fatefully doomed to be separated. We can scream at the protagonist;
How could she be so foolish? How could she possibly miss the signs?
The greatest source of my pain was not Daniel’s death. As painful as the separation is, I know his energy cannot be created or destroyed. Rationally, I know he exists somewhere. No, the greatest source of my pain was the constant reliving of every painful memory I have ever experienced. I would wake up and face every poor decision and stupid mistake I have ever made and sit with the agonizing realization that those mistakes cost me the love of my life.
I was internally facing the everlasting duel between Past and Future Me. Future Me would torture the mind of Past Self. She would inflict the venomous doubt that comes with the ‘What ifs.’ She would hold Past Self accountable for every single time she wasn’t there. Past Self will try to make sense of the situation. She will try to justify herself; but in the end, you will find her guilty.
This story begins on September 18th, 2016; exactly 169 days before Daniel’s suicide. That is the fateful day the universe will turn her hourglass and watch as my time with Daniel tragically slips away. Although I don’t have the thoughts of 2016 meticulously documented, I do have all our text messages for reference.
Let us begin by first being sad witnesses to the painful duel between Daniel and Past Self.
Forewarning, this is my most painful series.
Part 1: Daniel vs Past Self
September 18, 2016 169 Days Before Daniel Dies
I begin the story here because this is the day I distinctively saw the light vanish from Daniel’s eyes. Maybe it is true that our fate is sealed the moment we’re born and everything was set in motion long before this day. But for me, September 18th was when I knew I was racing the clock to save Daniel.
As I’ve mentioned, I was no stranger to his sadness. Even the parts of him he hated, I cherished. Just as he did for me. We would spend years learning all the beautiful and secret parts of each other’s soul. I would be introduced to Daniel’s monsters and I would learn how to slay them. I learned how to give him the comfort he gave me.
But on this day, Daniel will fall victim to the darkness and leave no path for a rescue. This time, I would be no match for the monsters.
Daniel will utter the words he had probably been thinking for a while, “I’m really planning on killing myself soon. We should break up soon so I don’t hurt you too much!”
He said it in a painful tone, but still with the exclamation at the end. Even when he was depressed, he tried so hard to be cheerful.
Every alarm bell inside me was ringing. I knew just by looking at him that this would not be like all the other times I was able to keep the darkness away.
“I’m not just going to stand on the sidelines and let you do this. I’m here to help you,” I’d reassure him.
“I wouldn’t give you time to help,” he’d mutter
“He didn’t,” Future Self will say, holding back tears.
He will say, “I don’t want to spend all night with you telling me how much you love me and how much people love me and how much I need to be here blah blah blah. I’d rather spend all night alone and get more depressed. You think you can help me, but you honestly can’t and I’m sorry to say that.”
He will say, “Fuck, just break up with me so I can just go fucking die and then you won’t have to have me fucking swearing and yelling at you.”
He will say, “Would you rather me keep on lying to you and telling you I’m fine? Because I can keep doing that if that’s what you like. I don’t mind. I do it all the time anyways.”
Past Self will be courageous. Past Self will stand tall and fight for dear life, because her life was on the line too. You cannot attend your lover’s funeral, without also attending your own.
“I love you. I love everything about you. You make me feel safe. I will be here to make you feel safe too.”
But the monster in Daniel will be speaking for the next little while, “How can you fucking love me when I’m talking to you like this?”
Past Self will say, “I don’t hate you. I could never hate you.”
Daniel will say, “I’m sure you could if I tried hard enough.”
Past Self will pull every trick out of her hat. “I love you with all my heart. I would do anything for you.”
He will feel guilty and say, “I know and I’m sorry for that.”
Past Self will put on such a brave fight that even the shadows inside Daniel would know this strategy would be useless. They will lose this battle but win the war by exploiting a tactic from The Art of War.
Daniel will turn the tables when he says, “Well, what if I said I lost feelings?”
The monsters knew their enemy, and they were about to hit me where it hurt.
September 19, 2016 168 Days Before Daniel Dies
On this day, Past Self will ride her bike to Daniel’s house while she knows he is at school. She will stand outside his house, shaking at the thought of ringing the doorbell. She is consciously aware that what she is about to do will change everyone’s life. She knows it is very likely Daniel will hate her for what she is about to do.
But she will say, “If he needs someone to blame, blame me. If he wants to hate someone, let him hate me. I’d rather he be alive and hate me, than dead and in love with me.”
She will know she is not enough to keep Daniel here. More importantly, she knows that she shouldn’t be. All she wants in the deepest corner of her heart, is for Daniel to find his own happiness. She will tell his parents that she needs their help to help him.
Past Self will ring the doorbell to Daniel’s house unannounced. His brother will look confused because Daniel isn’t home, which was exactly her intention. She will say, “I know,” and promptly ask to speak to his mom. Daniel’s brother later told me he thought I was coming to tell her that I was pregnant. If only I were coming to speak about the beginning of a life.
No, I had the unfortunate and painful responsibility to tell her that I seriously believe her son’s life is about to end. She started crying, as any parent would at the knowledge that her flesh and blood was in extreme pain. She took what I said seriously and we began calling Helplines together.
The operator started asking me all sorts of questions; “What’s his plan? Does he have the means to follow through? How long has he been talking like this?”
I have since learned that finding out a suicidal person’s plan is important in de-escalating the situation. But at the time I didn’t know how Daniel would kill himself. I just knew it in my bones that he would.
Daniel’s mom and I continued to talk and come up with a practical plan to support him. She had to talk to her husband and I had to pick up Daniel from work and bring him back home. The idea was to let him know that he had support from all areas of his life. The idea was to help start a conversation that for whatever reason, he was incapable of starting himself.
I will pick up Daniel from work and he will already be apologetic for talking about killing himself the night before. I will reassure him a thousand times to never apologize to me for that. I will tell him he should always tell me the voices in his head so he doesn’t have to bear them alone.
When we get to his house, his parents will be waiting for us. They will ask us to sit at the kitchen table where we have had dinner together countless times. This time it will be the setting of a difficult conversation. This time, I will tell Daniel that I told his parents that he wants to kill himself. We will all be supportive and try to engage in a conversation with him. We will all try to show our support and validation of mental health.
In retrospect, after having this very situation happen to me; I can personally say it’s not very pleasant on the suicidal person’s part. I can personally understand why Daniel wouldn’t have been happy with this course of action. One of Daniel’s friends told me I shouldn’t have involved his parents in the first place.
But all I know is that if I hadn’t told them and he still died, then it would always weigh on me that I could’ve done more. It already weighs on me that I could’ve done more. I already have a heavy burden to carry. Involving other people and letting them know who needs support should never be one of those weights. I don’t regret telling them. If anything, if I recall correctly, the most said thing to me at the funeral was, “I wish I had known.”
I will pay the ultimate price for telling his parents: Daniel’s love. He will feel betrayed and angry towards me. I threw a curveball the demons weren’t expecting, so it would offset their plans. It annoyed them and I was about to feel the brunt of it.
Past Self will ask to see him every day for several days and he will refuse.
Past Self will try to make him understand, “I love you with all my heart. You’re the one who showed me more love than I’ll ever know in a lifetime. Please don’t shut me out. I’m sorry you feel betrayed. I just can’t imagine a world without you. I don’t think I’m enough to make you want to stay, and that’s okay. I just needed help, I couldn’t handle it on my own. If I did nothing and something happened, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I did and will always do everything because of how much I love you.”
All he will be able to say back is, “I’m sorry. You wouldn’t be like this if we never got together in the first place.”
To be continued....
Always with love,