One year ago to the day, Tara and I sat with Brian at the VGH Emergency check in for about 7-8 hours to have him committed to the PAU (Psychiatric Assessment Unit). For five days he was locked in there. It was a Saturday. The Friday night, before, he’d set up everything to end his life. He’d had a last meal; his fav…bacon & eggs and chocolate cake. He’d left a note on the door, had changed his will and left a note for Tara. Everything was in order.
At the last minute, due to the constant texting and calling of Tara and I – he called her and said through tears: “Guess what I’m doing?”
This was his rock bottom for the second time in less than half a year. This was his spiral downward to the bottomless pit of doom that he’s created for himself. So, we checked him in. They took hours and hours but finally committed him, took all of his treasures away (clothes, iPhone, wallet, money, keys…) and gave it to us to look after.
I can’t even begin to imagine his embarrassment and humiliation but we stood by him and took shifts in visiting him; Tara by day, me by evening.
It kept him alive for an extra two weeks as he struggled to cope and did his best to recover.
We brought him fresh things to wear under the prison-like PJ’s (he jokingly called them his crazy clothes), food, coke, things to read and I even brought his little chess set and we played a bit when I was there. I still have that chess set of his.
Half way through, he was moved out and up to another ward which meant they felt he was doing better. He even chatted up a few others there and made some unlikely short-term friends. Well…sort of.
He didn’t like the food, much, so we made sure he had plenty of the things he loved; juice, coke, chocolate, I bought him dinner several nights in a row. I remember he was bored out of his skull because they didn’t allow his cell phone, there, so he went through several books.
I’ll never forget it. The weather was summer-like. Parking there wasn’t as bad as I’d thought and it was very close to where he’d lived. There have been times when I’ve had to drive by the area and felt such anxiety over the memories. I try and avoid VGH if I can.
I was helpless. Nothing I did really made much difference, at least…I don’t think it did. All I could do was love him, keep the Beacon of Hope lit, be there for him, spend time with him, bring him whatever he wanted and was allowed to have in there.
He was on a few anxiety drugs and anti-depressants. They didn’t do him any good at all. They made him jittery and he was as fearful as ever.
I don’t think I ever loved him so much. I was so proud that he fought so hard to keep it together. I can’t imagine what he went through. I don’t think I’d have done half as well had it been me. His struggle sucked up so much of his energy and when I saw him he looked like a little boy; fragile and wide-eyed, timid yet sweet and soft spoken.
He was so scared; so were we.
This past month has been one big lead up to the day he took his life and my emotions are so raw. I can recall so much of those 5 days but the next 6 months after May 11th is a complete blur. I do recall going to Australia for two weeks but that’s about it.
At the end of all of this, we still have to go on. We still look to thrive and must find some light at the end of our own dark tunnel.
I imagine what it’s like on the other side. I imagine it being so filled with beauty and light.
My newness to digital art makes my fractal creations somewhat primitive compared to those that actually know what they’re doing. I manipulate them and blend them in Photoshop to resemble things I can relate to as best I can. I ‘think’ I’m getting better and hope that I am.
I imagine I’d like to have a tree of light, over there; one where he and I could sit and talk and work things out. There’s so much I long to understand. Even just to tell him, in person, how much I miss him…