She was one of those people with more personality than she knew what to do with. She stood up for the world and was passionate about everything, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend and to me she was a colleague. Her firey sense of standing up for people’s perceived rights could be downright scary at times depending on which side of the argument you were standing. I won’t forget the blaze in her eyes as she would snarl “just try it!. Her passion it seems, was born from her own inner demons, described as somewhat formidable at times, she was also a nurturer, a care giver, gardener and breeder of small dogs.
While we had talked at work often, I think I learned more about her that day in the room full of mourners, those that had loved her than I would ever have been privy to otherwise. Her bright purple coffin adorned with the most brilliant display of flowers collected from her own garden. I was somewhat saddened that we had so much more in common than I had realised and I wondered for the conversations that might have been had time permitted.
While the taste of salt trickled onto my lips, the feeling I had in my heart was not so much one of sadness but self-guilt – my outlook on what so many were calling a wasted life, is somewhat tainted by my own experience and feelings, I was glad for her that she had found the peace she needed at that time and secretly I was jealous.
Two of her children, the same age as two of mine – their faces. The way her eldest daughter spoke with guilt wishing she had said more, or less – never imagining that once her mother had been admitted to the hospital that she would not have the chance to take back any harsh words and tell her she loved her. That was hard to hear.
I took a deep breath and with a final look at that bright purple coffin I whispered goodbye. As I drove home my mood was rather surreal. The looks on those little faces, the same ones I would likely be causing on my own kids someday. It hurt so bad. For them so many more questions than answers.
The hardest part about this for me is it hasn’t changed how I feel in the way it seems it probably should. I was supposed to look at this as a realisation that I need to stay well for my kids, to TRY and want to stay well. But it didn’t work, I understand the intellectual concept and I feel as guilty as hell that i don’t FEEL it but I can’t help my own need for peace.
A few days later with these added guilty thoughts and pit of depression I had already sunk into before the funeral, I had an internal anxiety attack at work and ran out the door chased by a team leader asking what was wrong, I lied and said nothing I had to go and drove to a spot I had always regarded as a possible resting place. A beautiful waterfall that tumbles down a sheer cliff face. I cut through the bush track to avoid the safety rail look-out area and instead climbed down the rocky stream to the edge of the cliff. I sat there with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills in my hand and my legs dangling off the edge, feelings of numbness and simultaneous peace.
The sun was warm on my skin as I lay back absorbing the rays on my face for a while feeling very close to nature. My iPod on the ‘D’ playlist. I had no paper to write a note. – oh well, someone would eventually go through my computer and find my heavily passcoded ramblings. A little voice in my mind kept saying – ‘this isn’t fair on Cara’ – Cara, my team leader who’s final words to me had been ‘are you sure there is nothing I can do?” with a look of startled concern in her eyes and a slight wobble in her voice. I had told her ‘no, but thanks..’ with a tears in my own.
Our team had already lost one of our own to suicide in the last week, and as I lay back in the sun tears stinging in the corners of my eyes I felt like I couldn’t do that to Cara- she would blame herself for not acting on her instinct, she’s only young and she doesn’t need that, it’s too selfish.
At that moment I heard voices from up the track. Shit! People were coming down to the look out. I shoved the pills back in my pocket and bolted up the flat rocks and back into the crevices of the boulders on the side. Getting caught on a cliff face with pills in your hand probably lands you locked up somewhere I don’t want to go. I got back to the car and drove the long way back to the city.