One day I will kill myself
Death is the last act of our lives, and we often live our lives in fear, instead of embracing the finality of it. Death is the end of promises, dreams, hopes, and it is a wake that ripples through the years. The waves come crashing down on your family and friends, but over the years those waves are intermittently volatile with periods of calm.
When I was 15 years old, my father died in my arms from Lymphoma. I was supposedly his special child, because I was less than a year old when he was diagnosed. I never felt special, because his incapability to emotionally express himself took precedence over being the father I needed. His cancer was hidden from me until the fateful day when telling me became inevitable. Soon after was the first time I saw my father cry, and that day will forever be etched in my memory.
We were sitting on the hospital bed, just him and I. The room was dimly lit, and the sun was shining in through the white curtains. We were both on the edge of the bed in silence. Not one of us had a word to say, and I don’t remember why. Was it the fear he faced having to finally cash in the years of remission? Was it knowing he would never grow old seeing me become an adult? I have no clue, as he never mentioned either of those to me. What I know is this: he started to cry. I never experienced that from my father, and I cried with him. I was a fourteen-year-old child who had to face the facts, my dad was afraid.
I was in denial over his diagnosis, because it was the only way I could accept what was happening. I questioned my mother why I didn’t know he had cancer. She said he wanted to keep it from me to protect me. She spoke for my father during this time, and he was, even in his last months on this earth, incapable of opening up emotionally to me.
There were moments when he showed it, but those were few and far between, and most of the time he seemed indifferent about sharing things with me.
We went hunting, fishing, camping, and he was my little league coach. Those were shared activities, but I wanted shared love. I wanted to be taught how to be a man by the one man who needed to teach me. I don’t know how damaged he was from his life to end up this distant person, but I felt it.
November 27, 1989, came. My brother and I went to bed, planning to go hunting in the morning. Mom wanted us to go, even though we both had heavy hearts. Dad was rapidly declining, but I was still in denial over it. Around 2am, my brother woke me up, and the exact words were, “we need to go to the hospital, dad isn’t going to make it.”
He drove in silence. It was dark, cold, and ominous. I do not remember what I was thinking, but when I walked into his hospital room, he was laying on his bed making guttural breathing sounds. It was horrid to hear, and I did the only thing I could do. I laid down next to him on the bed and held him.
My mother, brother, and my dad’s sisters were around the bed, and at some point I fell asleep on him. When I woke up and looked at him, he stopped breathing and a single tear fell from his eye. I said, “dad? DAD!” and looked around in panic. The doctor came in and pronounced him dead.
I was angry.
I ran from the room and punched a wall.
I watched my father go from a capable man to a cancer-ridden shell. During those 15 years I knew him, I didn’t have the father I needed, but rather the father that did his best to face the mortality of his cancer, the damage from his years alive, and the inability to express himself to his sons.
It damaged me for years to come, and I will never have the day where I ask him, “why?” I will never know why he was the way he was, and I am forced to accept it.
I have seen the dark side of humanity more than I care to admit, but this was the darkest day of my life to hold my father as he died. It was the end of my youth, and I was never the same person since.
There will be a day when I am forced to face mortality, and it can come quick, like a motorcycle wreck, or a physician telling me the worst news they can tell a patient. Quick is easier, because you don’t need to watch yourself waste away and your loved ones sitting by the bed hoping for the best. Being barely alive is painful for the people you love, because they are powerless to change it and undeserved participants in your suffering.
If I ever get a terminal diagnosis, I will plan assisted suicide and spend the last few months exploring, living, loving, and ensuring that the people around me are appreciated. I will never allow them to see the man they love have his spirit disintegrated, his body covered in sores and IV’s, and hooked to a machine receiving medication to keep me alive while my mind and body suffer.
I will kill myself one day if I am given that outlook, but I will not repeat the mistakes of my father.
Death is inevitable, but if you lived a life worth living, death is a rest and not a punishment.
My dad’s tear has new meaning for me today. I think he wanted more out of life, but he did it the best way he could. Maybe he wanted to tell me things. He may have wanted to be a more openly caring father, but he wasn’t. That tear felt like regret, and I want to die knowing I gave my all and left nothing on the table.
This is my living will.
When my time comes, allow me to be the instrument of my death, and I will give you all I have.