Three years ago today I was in Dallas visiting a friend for the weekend. It was a Saturday. That morning I received a text message from you that said, “Hey, I’m having trouble with my email. If you happen to get anything from me, just delete it.” I really didn’t think much of it at the time… I figured maybe your account was hacked and it was just a head’s up to not open any attachments. I had no idea what was in store for me the following day.
Upon my return home the next afternoon I unpacked, took a shower and got settled in. I had been home several hours when I decided to check my email, completely having forgotten about the text message. There was an email from you with subject line that simply read “Important.” There was a word document attached but the body of the message said only this: “Hey Laura, this is very important and you will want to open it right away. -Brian.” I sat there for a moment debating whether or not to open it based off of your text message the previous day; but something told me it was absolutely necessary that I open that attachment. Opening that document changed my life forever.
I’m very, very sorry to need to let you know this way, but if you’re reading this then that means that I’ve made the decision to end it all and it should be over and too late right now. I scheduled this email to be sent with a time-delay and I left plenty of time. I’m sorry that you had to find out like this, but I didn’t know what else to do.
You included the phone number for the Brooklyn Park police department and your address; that information was immediately followed by a lone, haunting paragraph that said only this:
“My front door will be unlocked.”
You went on to detail things that would need addressing after your death– your request for a small, simple funeral, your life insurance policy information, your car title, your banking information, and you listed your few remaining possessions and their estimated worth. You also had several paragraphs lovingly describing your hopes for what was to happen to your beloved cats, Maximus and Marcus; you asked me to tell them goodbye for you as you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it before you left us. I hesitate to be more specific with the remaining contents of your letter because they were your words to me and they are so very personal… and honestly I don’t feel that they are my words to share.
There are no words that could ever come close to conveying what I was feeling when I read that first paragraph. My head was spinning so unbelievably fast and I grabbed the phone and called Mom and Dad in a frenzy and immediately asked them when they’d last heard from you. They had not received the email, you sent it only to me. I forwarded it to them and said, “You need to call the police and send them over.” You had actually sent the email the day before so I was already preparing myself for the possibility that you were already gone. I was absolutely terrified.
While I waited to hear back from Mom and Dad after calling the police to do a wellness check I was frantically calling your cell phone repeatedly for about ten minutes straight. As I picked up the phone one more time to try calling yet again, it began to ring… it was you! My heart about jumped out of my chest!! I heard your voice and knew you were OK… I could breathe again.
You kept apologizing for worrying me and kept saying you meant to SAVE the email, not SEND it and you were so embarrassed and ashamed. I then found out the reason for your text the previous day; once you realized you actually sent the message you were trying to keep me from seeing it. I kept telling you there was a reason I got it– clearly I was meant to see it and I was going to get you some help. That’s why I struggle so much between July and October– the past couple summers since you died I’ve been reliving those months over and over again and recall the panic I felt each and every single day… worrying that you might be dead until I got a text, an email or you called so I could hear your voice. I keep going over those months in my mind wondering what I could have done or said differently. Knowing ahead of time that I was likely to lose you makes me feel like more of a failure– because I wasn’t able to prevent it even knowing what I knew. You had told me once that you regretted having gotten us involved at all because it gave us a false sense of hope that we could help you when in your mind you knew you were fairly certain you never wanted the help at all. I still painfully recall a conversation we had one day where I’d asked you to promise that you wouldn’t do anything to hurt yourself… there was a substantial pause on your end of the line until you simply sighed and said, “I… I really can’t promise you that, Laura.” In my heart I knew you couldn’t promise me that– and I also knew that it really didn’t feel right asking you to promise that, either. I knew how much pain you were in! I’d been there so many times myself before and because of that I understood that to ask you to endure that pain for me wasn’t entirely fair. While it hurt to hear you say that, I also respect that you didn’t make me a promise you knew you would not be able to keep. I’m so sorry for having asked that of you.
Please watch over me these next few months as we approach the 3 year anniversary of your death– I think this year is going to be extra hard for me.
As always, I hope that you are at peace now and are healing on the other side.