I was the luckiest man in the world at one time. I was utterly in love with my soulmate. The love of my life was named Darcy. The tragedy of our story is that her and I would not get the opportunity to grow old together. I can assure you the realization of this inevitable absence in each other’s life precipitated the worst pain imaginable. I was forced to witness the one person I cared more than anything else be taken from me.
The night we discovered she was sick Darcy had collapsed in front of me. She had just pulled into our garage after work. I heard the garage door begin to open and had gone out to help her with her bags. She got out of her car and immediately fell to the floor. She had called me earlier that day and I thought she sounded strange. I asked her if she was alright. She replied, “I can almost guarantee you I am going to be fine.”
She would not be fine. Looking back on it I wonder if she knew something was wrong. In that moment I was crippled by my inability to help her. I frantically called 911 and shortly after an ambulance came blaring into our driveway. The paramedics found me cradling her in my arms on the garage floor. They pulled me out of the way and began securing Darcy to a stretcher. They asked me if there were any preexisting conditions, I replied, “No, nothing.”
Darcy was rushed to the hospital and a series of tests were administered. Most of which came back negative. It was if she were perfectly healthy and no one could figure out why she had collapsed. They brought her down into the basement for a CAT scan, their last attempt to find something which would leave a healthy 23-year-old woman barely conscious, the results of the test were heartbreaking. Darcy had a massive tumor in her brain that was inoperable. There was nothing anyone could do. The doctors were helpless. I was forced to watch because I could not bear to look away. Something told me at any moment she would disappear into the ether and be gone forever.
She eventually gained consciousness again. She was speaking and eating small amounts of food, but she was struggling. I watched her wither and fade from the woman I love with so much intensity into an empty husk of a person. Even with her body shriveling she never lost the flame in her soul which she somehow kept stoked until the very end. A tangible spark forever present in her dark brown eyes.
A month passed and I spent most of my time in the hospital with her. I had taken a leave of absence from my job to be there with her. The suffering was unimaginable for her and me both. She was not worried about her own death, rather knowing the love of her life would be left alone tore her apart. I tried my best to be strong, but occasionally, a tear would escape from my eye, rolling down my cheek. Or I would choke on my words of assurance to her.
I held her hand, it was small like a child’s, only more emaciated and transparent. Her skin was like paper. Blue veins were visible towards the surface. I knew these veins help carry the disease throughout her body, and I hate them more than most would say they have ever hated anything.
The day she died was sunny and clear. I had opened the window for her earlier in the afternoon to allow some air into her stuffy room. The machines hooked to her beeped and ticked and hissed. What seemed like thousands of tubes came from all over protruding from beneath her blankets and hospital gown. It had almost become normal for us. The machines noise was now just background noise, all to familiar.
She reached out for my hand at one point and I looked up at her, those brown eyes still alive in a body that had lost a battle long ago. I managed a smile. She said, “Thomas, I want you to know that I am so lucky to have had you in my life. I would not change a thing if I had a choice because I would not want a life that did not involve us loving each other. No matter how fleeting the time was.”
“I love you too Darcy.”
I choked a little on the lump in my throat. “With my entire self.” I cleared my throat, “It is so nice outside maybe we could get the nurses to allow us to go outside for a walk. Let me go get one.”
I got up to find a nurse and Darcy called me back, “Thomas, no I don’t feel up to it right now. I’d rather just stay here with you.”
“Okay, whatever you want.”
I sat back down and told her a recant of one of our first dates. It was a disaster by normal standards. We had gone hiking in a state forest in New York, Mount Harriman. I had no idea of the level of difficulty which the hike would involve, nor did I realize the length or the fact the trail was not a loop. We hiked up and over the mountain several times that day and when we got to the end, tired and overwhelmed we were not at the parking lot in which we had entered the trail. Darcy pulled out her cell phone and tracked her car on an app. The car was 5 miles away, down a single lane road which ran throughout the 50,000-acre forest. We walked the last 5 miles on the gravel road. When we reached the car, I thought she was going to break it off right then and there, but she did not. Rather, we broke into laughter and kissed. “That was the day I knew we would be together forever.” I said.
“Too bad forever wasn’t a little longer in this case.”
“The time we have had was better than 100 years with someone else Darcy, I would not trade it for anything.”
I kissed her as she laid in her hospital bed. After that she closed her eyes. They would not open again. I like to think she was dreaming of me when she died. That dream would turn into her forever. Darcy had saved me from a life without love and for that I will always be in her debt.
Darcy was buried in the pouring rain the following Tuesday afternoon. The clouds were thick and dark. It was if someone had painted the sky dark grey to match the tone of the occasion. Thunder clapped in the distance and the withering leaves on the trees surrounding us fell to the ground and were blown violently around by the storm.
A Catholic Priest read from his Bible to a weeping audience. Flowers were everywhere and the rain’s intensity made their petals come alive upon impact. I just stared at the ground at the meticulously dug hole over which Darcy’s casket hovered, like a morose magic trick. I did not have an umbrella and stood being assaulted by the rain. My suit was drenched and clung to my body like cellophane. I could not bear to pull myself away with the crowd as people began leaving the plot to venture back to their cars. I felt as if once I left Darcy would be gone forever. I just wanted a few more minutes to tell her how she changed my life. I felt a jacket being draped over my shoulders and turned to see Darcy’s father, Frank, putting his raincoat over me. He smiled sullenly at me and without words turned and walked over to his remaining family.
“Darcy, I don’t know how I am going to make it through this life without you. You were so special and made me want to be a better man. Better than the person I was and better than the person I am today. I love you so much Darcy, I am lost. All I can do is hope we see each other on the other side, but who knows if there is anything after this? Not me. But I am willing to gamble there must be because anything after this without you would be hell. I am already living through hell now, so a double dose does not seem fair. None of this seems fair though.”
I do not know how much time I spent there before the ground’s person approached and asked me to leave. I did without a word in response to the man in overhauls and a raincoat. I got into my car and drove to Darcy’s parents’ house which is on the outskirt of the town. It was filled with family and friends, however I still felt completely alone.
Darcy’s mother saw me immediately when I came in. She hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and looked into my eyes. “You were so good to her Thomas. We are very lucky to have you as a part of our family. We would still like it if you were to come to Christmas this year.”
“That would be nice. I would like that.”
I was broken inside from Darcy’s death. If I made sudden movements, it was if I could hear the splinters of myself rattling around inside me. Faint jingling of the pieces making soft somber notes of the saddest song I had ever heard. But the song was my own in memory of Darcy. The only way I could explain how this time was for me was that if all the fears and doubts you ever had suddenly came to fruition finally claiming their place in the forefront of your life. I could not sleep and could not be awake.
I spent about a month debating whether to keep trying or just give up. I am not a coward and I do not want people to think I am taking the easy way out. By no means necessary is suicide an easy thing. To knowingly take one’s own life takes a huge amount of courage and commitment in my opinion.
Sitting alone in our house, drinking, which had become a nightly routine for me. I decided I would kill myself the following evening. I wanted to go around getting some things in order and say goodbye to friends and family. Organize my paperwork for my family so it is easier on them to settle my estate. Just like that, I committed to it. I was going to kill myself tomorrow evening. Like a meeting written into a scheduler. It was just one more thing to do.
My alarm went off at 6:30 am. I rolled over and turned it off. Got out of bed and took a shower, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. I wrote my floor safe combination on a post it and place the post it on the door of the metal box in my closet. This would allow my family access to the paperwork and other items within the safe once I was gone. I drove to my old company headquarters, I arrived at 8:00 am and walked into my boss’s office.
Francis Maxwell was an asshole. I had worked for him at the engineering consultant firm for 2 years and disliked him the entire time. No one in the office liked him as a matter of fact. He was unlikeable. He saw me come in and welcomed me. I asked, “Frank, do you have a minute? I need to speak to you about something.”
He nodded, waiving me in. I walked into his office and closed the door. “What’s going on Tom?”
“Well Francis, you are an asshole. I quit and I hope you go home tonight with the realization everyone in the company hates you. We think you are a joke and even our clients cannot stand you being involved with their files. So, all in all, you are the absolute worst. Just a real piece of human trash. There is no wonder why your wife left you. The rumors of her cheating on you with your handyman are believable. I would imagine the guy was so much better, all around, than you. This made it hard for your wife to quench her thirst for the love of a real man, not some dried up shell of a boy that you are.” I pushed my seat back and slapped a cup of pens off his desk as I got up. They were strewn across the floor. On the way out the door I knocked a framed motivational poster off his wall. I turned back to him and said, “I just did you a favor, that poster sucks. Everyone hates it.”
Francis just sat there motionless with his mouth wide open. The expression on his face showed his obvious amazement of what just happened. I walked out the doors and got in my car. I drove across the street to my bank and accessed my safety deposit box. I emptied the contents into a bag. The deed for my house, our marriage certificate, my birth certificate, my social security card, $5,000.00 cash and some of the jewelry Darcy inherited from her grandmother. I thanked the bank manager and walked out.
I went back to my house and cleaned the entire place. I then wrote letters to my friends from college, Chad, Jeff, Ryan, Christopher, Josh and Brianna. I put the letters in envelopes and put them in the mailbox. I called my mother and told her that she was the greatest mother I could have asked for. She cried, like usual. She asked me if I was alright, I responded, “Mom, I can almost guarantee you that I’ll be alright.”
She accepted this answer and told me she loved me. I told her I loved her and hung up. I then called my sister, who I had not spoken to in 7 years. She ignored my call the first 3 times until finally, “What do you want Thomas?!?!”
“Just to let you know I forgive you. I do not hate you and I love you Amy. I hope everything goes well for you in the future.”
“Whatever Tom. You’re such a prick.” She hung up.
With everything in order, the best I could make it, I was ready. I went to the local gun store to purchase 9mm bullets for a handgun my grandfather had passed down to me. He had gotten it while fighting in World War II. He had taken it from the body of a German soldier he had come across during his platoon’s operations in France. I had never shot the gun but thought it would be an effective way to accomplish my goal.
I walked into the store and purchased a box of bullets. I thought it was a waste seeing how I would only need one, but they do not sell single rounds. So, there I was stuck with 49 extra bullets I would never need.
Everything was ready, including myself. I decided to go out for one last dinner at Darcy and my favorite tavern. It was a small place in the middle of our small town. They served great food and specialized in craft beers. I ate and remembered how Darcy would sit beside me. How we would share our food. I drank and thought about Darcy and I coming to this place every Friday that first summer we dated.
Knowing it would be the last time I ate or drank anything made it almost surreal. The food tasted better. The beer warmed me and was flavorful. I paid the check, left a generous tip, and left. I drove home and parked in the driveway. I had not used the garage since Darcy collapsed in it and I was not going to start now. I walked upstairs into my bedroom removed the gun from the shoebox in the closet and loaded a bullet into it. I sat down on the bed put the barrel in my mouth. My heart was racing and the adrenaline coursing through my veins caused my hands to shake. I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger, “Click.”
Nothing happened. “What the fuck?” I looked at the gun. I had no idea what I was looking for. I tried again, “Click.”
“Click, Click, Click, Click.” Nothing. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”