Mother’s Day had just passed. It was a Monday. It was first or second period. I was in science, co-teaching with Myers. She was out sick that day or doctor appointment for the baby. I was standing in the back of the room on the black and white checkered floor. My Motorola flip phone vibrated in my bra. I discretely pulled it out. Ten minutes before the bell was going to ring.
I saw it was my brother. We hadn’t talked in over a week or so. A blow up over the baby’s baptism about my parent’s being rude about the church and accepting a welcome gift of a coffee mug. Then that argument turned into a discussion about how Tom wasn’t spending time with my boys anymore but spending time with Gretchen’s nephew. I told him that I thought Gretchen was one of the best things that had happened to him. Then he said, “Oh, I get it. You hate my girlfriend.” That was the end of the discussion. The last I had heard from him. I didn’t invite him over to Mother’s day breakfast. I figured it would blow over.
Now he was calling. He rarely called me at work unless it was important, so I answered. He blew up.
“I fucking hate you! I’m going to kill myself and it is all your fault.” He screamed at me.
“Tom, let’s talk about this. What’s going on? Where are you?”
“I just want you to know, I fucking hate you. I’ll at your fault. I fucking hate you. I’m going to kill myself.” He screamed at me with pain and determination.
I knew he meant it. I knew he was sincere.
I was in the back of the class, the bell rang. I walked out of the class, down the hallway and into the quad. Classes resumed. I called my mom, told her what had happened. She called him. I called my cousin, she said maybe he was just venting. But I knew. He was speaking the truth. He wanted to die and was going to die. I felt it in my bones and just knew it.
My mom called back. She said she had spoken to Tom. She said he was disoriented. He said he was driving and running people off the road and that he hated me and was going to kill himself. Then he hung up. She would call me back.
I couldn’t go back into the classroom. I went into another teacher’s classroom who didn’t have any students. He was doing paperwork. I just asked him if I could hang out and wait on a phone call. He said sure and left the room to run copies.
A minute later. My mom called.
“Tom’s dead.” That’s all she said. She hung up. What else could she say?
I was alone.
It started low and began to build. I thought it was a silent cry. But I began to wale. I was shouting and crying uncontrollably. A teacher from next door, came in to see what the commotion was about saw me and just held me. I could barely get out what was wrong. She called the office I supposed. I don’t recall what happened. Just being passed from one person to the next.
From first conversation to last. It all took about 15 minutes. I don’t know how long he contemplated the suicide but from when he first told me until he pulled the trigger it took all of 15 minutes.
All I wanted to do was to get in my car and drive to my mom’s house up the street but nobody would let me drive. Said I was unfit to drive. Derek came to pick me up. At first they said that Tom was alive and they were taking him to UMC trauma unit but then we got the call he had passed in the ambulance and he was being taken to Centennial Hills Hospital.
Together we gathered in a family room.
We learned that he had fallen asleep at work. They had to call his boss to get someone to unlock the doors at the bar. They were unsure of it he had been drinking. The relief bartender said that this was probably going to be the end for him there. He left in a rage. Called me. Said what he said. Called me mom. A police officer who had been on the job for a week say him swerving and flipped his lights to pull him over. He was very close to house. He did not pull over but kept driving. He pulled in front of his house. The cop told him to get out of the car. Tom did not. Tom reached for the gun he kept with him at the bar every night and shot himself in the head. At that time, Gretchen pulled into the driveway with the baby.
While in the family room, my mom learned that Tom had been arrested and spent the weekend locked up for a DUI. He said he would never go back to jail again. My mom had no idea.
I remember just a feeling of shock and emptiness. I remember having to call my dad and tell him. I remember having to call everyone and tell them. I felt so hollow and empty.
When his birthday comes around and the anniversary of his death comes around, I relive these moments. I try to focus on the joyful events we shared, but this trauma triggers me. I try to think that in the moments in the worst second in his life, even though he blamed me for his trouble, he still called me. I was his lifeline. In the end, it was always just me and him. As it always was.