I Saw the Announcement in the Paper
I find I’m a magnet. These kinds seek me out. I offer them a ripe pomegranate or a slice of pumpernickel. Sitting on the front stoop or pacing around the raised garden beds, we talk. No, they talk; I listen. I say “I love you” and “I’ll always be here for you.”
Three times now, I’ve made this mistake.
My North Face jacket would be warmer, but today I reject the synthetic. I shuffle my arms into a pale blue terry cloth bathrobe and take a walk down the drive. I pass by the leafless wild rose bush. Allured, I pause to pluck a hard crimson rosehip and pop it into my mouth. Like a tiny, earthy tasting fireball, I suck on it, then roll it over my teeth and across my gums.
The autumnal winds pick up, caress my cheek, and the belt ties whirl around. I shove my fists into the deep pockets. Keep moving. I’m going to a meeting. I saw the announcement in the paper and knew I had to attend. Before I inadvertently off someone else I think I know, I want to ask how not to do that. Learn how to listen correctly. More than that – I want to rid myself of these extreme poles.
I slide open the shed door to search for gloves. I reject the pretty new canvas ones and the hole pocked backups. I decide to go with naked hands, fingers without rings, unencumbered.
In the past, there was a time when I didn’t have an answering machine or caller ID. Once I gave someone my cell number but got a new phone and had no way to tell him I’d changed it. Recently, a call came from Texas and I knew – in my heart – who it was but didn’t feel like discussing why I was still married to a man who still never reads my words. So I didn’t pick up.
Ten days later, he was dead. Things went further south. The week after his wake, which I couldn’t attend, his girlfriend was gone, too. The last Facebook photo of her shows a candle in the forefront, her bowed head, pain. It is the gospel of giving up. I wonder, “Should that be me, too?”
At the end of the driveway, in my tattered bathrobe, I wait for my ride to the Suicide Loss Day Program. Doors open at noon. The program starts at one. I registered; I arranged for a ride; I’m going. I hope to find others who share my guilt and ask them how they cope. I want to see what they choose to wear for their boisterous armor. The meeting is being held at the Psych Center. It’s sprung on me that if I am insane, at least I’m dressed properly.
T. L. Sherwood lives by Eighteen Mile Creek in western New York, not far from Buffalo. She is the Assistant Editor at r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal and both a reader and interviewer at Literary Orphans. She is the 2015 Gover Prize winner and her blog, Creekside Reflections, can be found here.