Saturday, December 5, 2015

Six Years Later

I’ve been sad all day. I stayed in my pajamas, curled up on the sofa under a blanket. I called my mom. We had the same conversation we’ve had a hundred times, going through the play-by-play in high-resolution Retina display. It’s a birthday and anniversary ritual.

She and my dad were putting up the Christmas tree when they got the phone call. I was in Golden Gate Park watching my daughter Dolly run a race. The voicemail message from my dad, the dog barking, the ass-hole threatening to sue me if I didn’t get the dog under control, the park bench where I returned my dad’s call. I shield my eyes whenever I drive past that park bench. Those blissful moments before we knew. Were there signs we missed? Could we have done anything to stop it? There’s nothing like regretting the phone call you didn’t make.

We talk through every detail of the days leading up to December 5, 2009. We talk about his life stresses with his job and his landlord, and how irrational it was to kill himself, as if it could ever be rational. We dissect each possible clue, forgiving ourselves for missing what we can see with 20/20 hindsight, assuring ourselves that his path was set and there was nothing we could have done. It was meticulously planned: The letters. The Christmas gifts. The calls to say good-bye. We forgive ourselves for not seeing it. Because if we knew, we would have done anything, everything we could. Of course we would.

This year is the first time the dates have lined up with the days of the week. December 5, 2009 was a Saturday, like today. Yesterday at work I thought about how six years ago I still had the ability to make a difference. Instead I worked hard on an awful case, didn’t return his phone call, or even send a damn text. You think there will be time.

It’s almost harder to think about the days and hours leading up to the end, or how I imagine it in my mind. Mike alone in his apartment typing suicide notes. How dreadful. I’ll never really know. That’s part of what’s weird when someone leaves. Who am I to tell his story? I don’t know what went on in his head. Six years later it’s still a mystery to me.

Something happened to him that we will never comprehend. We just have to carry it.