If I had it to do all over again, I would have handled the discovery of your indiscretion better.
I would have prayerfully considered every word that came out of my mouth.
I would have been more calm and asked questions, waiting to hear all your answers.
I would have had us sit and talk, instead of walking during our conversation, so we wouldn’t be able to avoid looking at each other.
I would have spoken without anger.
Over the next four days, I would have tried extra hard to hold it together so you could have had some hope of it being OK.
I would have been quiet when you told me about the second indiscretion with the same woman who was supposed to be a friend. If I had, I wonder if you would have told me about the other women. I wonder if you would have felt freer after doing so and seen a light at the end of the dark tunnel that your life had become.
Would it have made a difference? Would you have taken a different path?
I would have been more present when you said goodbye to our youngest that fateful night, then told him he could do better and asked him for a big hug. I remember looking at you immediately, but I couldn’t think clearly enough to realize what you were doing. I couldn’t put together this change in your goodbye and your previous thoughts toward suicide.
Before you left the house, I would have mentioned again how special that night had been for us 19 years before when you asked me to marry you. Even though we talked about it earlier in the day, if I had known what you were going to do, I would have tried to get your focus somewhere other than ending it all. It still hurts so much that you died at right about the time you had proposed all those years ago.
I would have had my last verbal words to you be so much better than “Then prove it!” But it was the first and only time you verbally apologized for your affair (and the only other time was in your suicide letter). It hit me as so little to say, as you were about to leave for your “meeting”, after such a painful thing you had done.
I would have made my last text to you be about something different from questioning all the calls to the Ft. Wayne number (that I discovered later was one of your longtime girlfriends of many years). It is still hard for me to get a text with the word “yep” in it since it was the last interaction you sent to me – it was actually the last interaction we had with each other at all.
I wouldn’t have given you the code to the rental house I was managing, where you chose to spend the last moments of your life.
I would have stood up for myself in how I needed to grieve and process everything, including the horrible discoveries I made for six months after you died, but I had learned what I wanted and needed didn’t matter.
I would have not allowed my grief and pain to be shoved aside and I wouldn’t have done everything in my power to follow rules laid down for me to follow to be around others who were grieving. I was told repeatedly that I had to respect the way they had to grieve, but my grief and pain meant nothing to them.
I would have never let it bother me when I was told that I was not much of a Christian because I couldn’t just lay all I was feeling and discovering at Jesus’ feet and act like none of it ever happened. I did lay it all at Jesus’ feet, but doing this didn’t take away the pain, confusion, betrayal and questions. It didn’t make my entire life with you any less of a lie or make picking up the pieces and moving forward in life, while being there as much as possible for our two boys, any easier.
The truth is, though, I did the best I could. The hurt was immense and even though we had many times that weren’t good in our marriage, I never imagined you had pretty much kept dating other women through it all so much so that I believe this and other activities were more a part of your life than the boys and I ever were.
I realize that I was never really loved by you. I couldn’t have been. It crushes me and it makes all my insecurities and questions of my worth rise to the surface when I think about it.
While I would like to have done all the things I mentioned above if I’d known what was going to happen, I remember how little I could think those four days between finding out about the affair and the night you died. It was really hard and, in the end, I am amazed how present I could be through it all and I have to be OK with how I responded. Nothing I say or do now will change what happened or was said. Then there is the fact that you decided to end your life for more reasons than just the affair I had discovered. I was not the cause of your choice to die. As you said, you weren’t strong enough to meet the consequences that were coming your way and that’s why you died that night.
I would tell you that I really did love you and I wanted the best for you. The one thing I wanted most of all for you, for us, was for you to be totally sold out to Jesus, because everything would have fallen into place if you had. It wouldn’t have been perfect, because nothing on this earth ever is, but it would have never gotten to the point it did. There would have been purpose to your life and not the constant battle against the demons you fought and lost to so, so often. I wanted so much more for you, for us and for our boys than what we had.
I can only hope you’re no longer suffering and are now with Jesus. I also hope I will someday come to terms and be at peace with all that has happened during our life together. I look forward to someday being with you in Heaven where none of this will matter and I’ll be able to see you as you were created to be.
~ Joanna Lynn
(Written for the seventh anniversary of the one I loved’s suicide. It’s a process and this is where my thoughts are this year.)
This post is also in response to The Daily Post prompt “realize”.