I keep thinking about my father’s suicide, partly because of Christmas. I spent Christmas with him when I was a kid during my elementary school years and into my early adolescence. I have good memories of Christmas with him. Although now that I’m almost 40, he’s dead, and I’ve had a lot of time and distance to consider things in retrospect, I’ve been having this underlying sense of anger, like it’s leaking out the cracks of my good memories, not exactly ruining them, but definitely leaving a lingering sourness.
Of course, the main reason he’s on my mind is because the anniversary of his death is in three weeks. I want to go to Texas, but I’m not sure I can work it out. I went for the one year anniversary, but I didn’t go last year. I intended to, but I had some kind of cold type illness. Driving solo, halfway across the country and back, is therapeutic, but tedious, and at the last minute, I decided I wasn’t feeling up to it.
I go back and forth in my mind about should I go or shouldn’t I. When I go, I visit the grave, I take a flower arrangement, I remember the funeral, and how if I’d only come to Texas two days earlier, maybe he’d still be alive. If only, if only, if only. When I go to the grave, I always have this sense that I should talk to him. I certainly like the idea that he can hear me and is getting something from what I say, but you know I’m not a spiritual kind of person, so I don’t really think anyone or anything is listening, and I feel like a dipshit. I might as well go talk to a tree or a plate of hot wings. I never have a sense of resolution, and I suppose resolution isn’t possible. As people told me in the days and weeks that followed his death, there is no going back to what I knew. It’s a new normal that happens to be an open-ended void of inconclusion, which apparently isn’t a word, but should be.
Then there’s all the recent gun talk, so that’s got me thinking about him. It rubs me the wrong way when people talk about mentally ill people being violent towards others as if that’s the norm. Obviously and tragically, that happens, but people with mental illness are infinitely more likely to be violent towards themselves. I know it’s morbid, but I’m a visual person, and my mind reflexively fills with images of him shooting himself, a bullet in his head, blood all over his shower, him slumped in a heap. He lived for a couple of hours. He called 911 right before he did it so the police would come. Then the ambulance came, they took him to the hospital, they tried to save him.
He loved guns. He had a bunch of them. He hunted. He probably belonged to the NRA, or at least supported them. Then he used one to kill himself. It was a small gun, a handgun. I don’t know if it was a pistol. Can pistols and handguns be the same thing? I don’t know. I don’t need to know, so if you know, don’t tell me. It wasn’t registered. I think it was old, or at least old enough that it was acquired before registering guns was a thing. My aunt has it. She wanted it, like a souvenir. That seems weird to me, but under the circumstances, I accept it. She’s a lunatic gun freak who thinks everyone should have an arsenal. I hate guns. I think they’re stupid. I don’t understand anyone’s obsession with guns and weapons. Collect cuckoo clocks. Collect model cars. Collect fucking paperweights. I wish guns didn’t exist.
My father actually did collect model cars, but that wasn’t satisfying enough to give up his fondness for guns. He was a little OCD about collecting NASCAR shit. We have multiple boxes of everything from limited edition NASCAR model cars that are supposedly worth some kind of money to a collection of empty Kellogg’s cereal boxes with NASCAR people on them that as far as we’ve been able to figure out, aren’t worth the cereal that once filled them. All of his stuff tortures me. It takes up space, so much of it has no meaning to me other than that it meant something to him, and because I had such a negligible connection to him for most of the last 25 years of his life, it’s all I have. It makes me mad too. I can’t think about all his hobbies and interests, and all the time and money he devoted to his hobbies – cars, flying airplanes, scuba diving, guns, fishing and boats – without being reminded of his choice to spend his time and money on that shit instead of having some kind of better, more meaningful relationship with me.
I’m reluctant to post about any of this. It’s depressing. No one wants to talk about it with me, no one knows what to say, and if I talk about it, then people feel obligated to say or do something. Plus, I feel like a whiner. I want to talk about it occasionally, like now, but there isn’t anyone I want to talk to. I don’t want to whine to people I know. I don’t want to talk to people I don’t know, like on a forum for survivors of suicide. I tried that, and it wasn’t for me. As I mentioned, talking to his grave isn’t the answer, although that won’t stop me from saying something the next time I’m there, mostly just to confirm that it doesn’t work. I started to post on Facebook, and I decided I’d regret posting. So I’m posting here. I never post here anymore, so I don’t think anyone reads. That’s consoling I guess… I don’t fucking know.