February fourteenth. The day my Dad celebrates his birthday. The day J and I were supposed to celebrate being in love. We had plans to go to our favorite pizza place. But February fourteenth wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
My Mom showed up at work around ten. Immediately my heart sank. She said she had news that I wouldn’t want to hear. The first thought that crossed my mind was that she had cancer. What happened to Leah? Did Leah get hit? My heart was beating out of my chest. I left work.
My Mom said that my ex’s mom called her this morning with devastating news: Ben had taken his own life. It felt as though I got punched in the stomach while getting struck by lighting. I couldn’t breathe. The first words out of my mouth were: No he didn’t. You’re lying.
I was in utter disbelief. Shock. I spent seven years with Ben and not one day went by where I thought he would do something like this. He was the most positive person I ever knew, always seeing the good in the situation, always telling everyone things would be okay.
After the initial shock, there was anger. How could he? And I know we had been divorced for over a year at this point, but how could he leave me? How could he do this to everyone he loved? What had been on his mind that was just too overwhelming to have to come to this?
It was hard for me to think this way. I felt immediate guilt because I have been that low. I have prayed to God again and again to take me, to just let me die. Yet, I’ve never gotten to the point where I would really take things into my own hands. I felt guilty because I knew how it felt to be so overwhelmed, yet I was angry at Ben for getting that far.
My Mom and I drove to the beach. I wasn’t crying at this point anymore. The tears had given way to a dead void. I felt uneasy, like I wasn’t sure where I was. I had to keep reminding myself that Ben wasn’t here anymore. This is real. Ben’s dead.
The truth hits hard.
Ben and I were best friends. Even after the divorce and the fights, we stayed friends. We talked here and there about our new adventures, our new goals, our new lives. The last time I talked to him, he was telling me about the farm he was starting, clearing trees, using the tractor to plant cover crops. He told me about his ideas to have a farm stand full of inspirational quotes and stories and said he might need some of my art work for the walls. He sounded excited, full of hope. Where did it go wrong.
The hardest part of everything (and it always will be) is that I will never know why he did it. I’ll never get my questions answered. And I’m not even sure if anyone knows. That’s the sick thing about suicide. No one knows you are struggling until it’s too late. I wish he had reached out to me. I would have been there. Ben had always been there for me no matter what. Even when he was angry at me, he would drop everything to help. I just wish I could have returned the favor.
Being one that has suffered through years with suicidal thoughts, and now being on the receiving end of the consequences, I’m not sure how to feel. My emotions are all over the map. When you’re down that low, yeah, taking your own life feels like the only way out. It feels like it’ll solve all your problems. But it’s selfish. Sure, you’ll solve all your problems but you’ll leave them all behind for your loved ones to deal with for the rest of their lives.
But in Ben’s case, it’s especially hard, because he was never selfish. It was one thing I both loved and hated about him. He was never freakin selfish. He was always looking out for others and their well being. He never thought about himself or what he wanted. He put himself last and catered to everyone else first. The suicide was the first selfish act I think he ever did.
All I can do now is hold on to the hope that he’s happy now. That he’s at peace. I’ll see him again one day and I’ll get my answers. But for now, I need to stop taking my life for granted and be as happy as I can be because that’s what he always wanted for me. I’m better because of him and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and thank him for teaching me how to love.
Til we meet again.