I awoke in the darkness of my bedroom. A dim glow and faint sound of music emanated from down the hallway. It had become David’s pattern of restlessness: listening to 60’s music late at night while filing through his prized album collection, repeatedly, one by one, quietly and alone.
I worried as I rolled out of bed, and quietly padded down the hall to check on him. As I crept closer to the doorway of the Living Room, I saw his still shadow on the wall cast by a lamp in the far corner of the room. I stopped and caught my breath with a sense of a foreboding, unseen presence. My heart raced as I cautiously peered around the doorway, hoping to go unnoticed.
The light behind him highlighted his profile with long, dark, stringy hair hanging down as he intently focused on the album in his hands. I gazed at him for just a moment, then startled when he jerked his head up with glaring eyes at me. I saw rage, and hurriedly retreated down the hallway to my bedroom and into bed.
I laid there with my heart jumping to the creaking sound of his footsteps coming closer. His silhouette stopped in my doorway.
“What were you doing?” he quietly asked.
“I was just checking on you.”
“Checking on me…why?”
“I wanted to make sure you were ok.”
He stood there silent for a moment, and then in a mournful tone said, “You’re the only one who cares about me.” He lingered for a moment in the darkness as despair filled the room. He then slowly turned and trudged back to the Living Room, to his den of isolation.
It was a much deeper depression for him than I had ever seen.
It had been almost a year since David had quit his job as manager at a new and popular restaurant in town, the place he had found the girl of his dreams with hopes of marriage in the forecast. After many years of erratic mood swings and multiple suicide attempts, he had managed to make it to the age of twenty-two and a promising future. However, the breakup from his girlfriend was a blow he had not anticipated, or the devastating humiliation from the unsuspected, on-going affairs by her with other guys where they worked. Consequentially, his naiveté became a joke at work, and his heart broken by the many betrayals by people he had trusted.
He didn’t talk about it much and kept the pain mostly to himself. Even so, his depression seemed to become a growing, deep, dark presence residing in our home affecting everyone in it: Mom, Dad, and me. I was thirteen.
After a while, David chose to move away to the Bay Area to live with some old friends. I hoped this would be the time he would pull out of his slump and start a new life.
When he called us long distance, it was usually Mom to who he spoke. They never had gotten along very well through the years, with most of their discussions turning into arguments. Even with him living away, their phone conversations were still not any less contentious. However, one night, out of the ordinary, David blurted out, “I love you Mom” before she hung up on him.
Three days later, mom received a phone call at her work just after she arrived that morning. She picked up the phone to hear a female voice on the other end.
“Is this Helen Pasley?”
“Yes it is.”
With a tone of irritation the woman spoke. “Mrs. Pasley, this is the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department. Are you going to pick up your son’s car or not?”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve had it for three days now and we can’t keep it here any longer!”
After questioning the woman as to why they had David’s car, it was by the woman’s trite and uncompassionate explanation that my mother first learned of her son’s suicide.
It was in the early morning when David’s body was found in his car parked at his favorite beach with the motor still running. Funneled newspaper routed carbon monoxide from the tailpipe and in through a rear window of the car. A love letter laid on the seat beside him to the girl of broken dreams.
I always hope, in his last moments of despair, his final cry was to the Lord.
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