Suicide no. 35: Daydreaming of Death
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
I remember those days. Early adolescence. I was young and felt young, and somehow thought that fantasizing my own funeral meant something poetic. I’d imagined the thoughts and words of people around me—sad, ashamed, and blaming some deep part of themselves. The whole thing was such a stupid show in my head. One brief look back, and I suddenly become awash with embarrassment.
Only for a moment, though. Until, somehow, the memory of those days spent in such naivety actually brought back some semblance of nostalgia. Jesus, I was so young…green as spring. Failing to see the narcissism in it all, and the endless sea of opportunities I’d wasted.
To think I wanted to die then.
And then, I went roaring through my twenties, drunk and self-destructive. I lived in Europe for awhile. I say “Europe,” because I never stayed in one place, and, most of the time, I never stayed anywhere at all. More than one police officer, usually speaking some language I didn’t understand, took a few hours of restless sleep from me by trying to pry me out from underneath some park bench littered with newspapers to keep the rain away—should it rain.
On one cold winter, I’d found myself in some snow-shod alley in Prague, with very little possessions outside of something I’d never part with: a .357 revolver, loaded with only two bullets. I kept the spare just in case the first round should fail.
I could’ve killed myself then.
Or, maybe after I’d finally met someone, and we’d only been married for three years. Carol and I really didn’t get along well, after awhile. I’m surprised that she stayed as long as she did, but then we did have Abigail to raise. Carol would have stuck it out for twenty, thirty, or forty more years.
That is, if she’d survived the tractor trailer collision on the interstate. She was driving a coupe; she never stood a chance.
I could’ve ended my life then.
Or, years later, when Abi was seventeen, screamed that she hated my guts, and opted to finish high school living with her grandparents, only to retreat three states away to go to college without even so much as a phone call or post card.
I could have died then.
But I turned sixty-two three weeks ago. When I went to the doctor for my annual check up, I’d mentioned that I’d been having these moments where, for the life of me, I had no idea where I was. Or, some mornings, I’d yell for Carol, and it would take me hours to realize, to remember, what happened years ago.
The doctor ordered some tests, but, before I even thought to go in, I knew what it was: Alzheimer’s runs in the family.
So, out of all those times I could’ve done it, perhaps I’m glad that I didn’t.
But, as I write this, and load that old pistol I’d kept for so long, I’ve decided, finally: