Content warning: suicide
You made me into a fucking ghost, didn’t you?
Shameless. You ungrateful fuck, after everything I gave you, all those hours, all my love, all my attention and affection and sincerity, I gave you my body and mind, and worst of all, my fucking heart, yet on a whim you so glibly chose to make me disappear from your life, to toss all the precious things I gave you away like they were nothing at all, like I was nothing at all, a worthless bitch, not a life partner but a meaningless one-night stand, not the woman who loved you and understood you like nobody else, not the woman who cooked your damned dinner, raised your babies, lived to hear your worries and rejoiced to hear your successes, even washed your goddamned feet and bandaged up your blisters when you went on those crazy running sprees and came back, breathless, barely able to stand.
What the hell were you running from anyway? From me? The kids? From the house I kept spotless for you, the car I washed for you, from the endless pampering, the cuddles, the listening, the moral support? From the friends of yours I invited over for dinner, even when it bored me to cook for them, even when I was too tired to laugh at their jokes, to bounce their babies on my knee while they watched sports with you, to keep the table heaving with snacks and ice-cold beers and the guest rooms havens of tranquillity, always stocked with books by their favourite authors, ice cold water and dishes of their favourite candy, bottles of camphor shower gel to ease their aching muscles after yet another boys’ night out at the gym?
Don’t even fucking think of telling me, asshole, that I wasn’t good enough for you. I was. Valedictorian, prom queen, student of the year, I gave up my career so you could grow yours, because I believed in your business, in your dream, believed them more important than my desire to run my own oncology practice, more important for you, for us. I believed in you more than I believed in myself, believed in your talent, allowed myself to become besotted with you and you only, to value nothing and nobody above your happiness. And it made me so happy, staying at home, raising your babies to excel, to make you proud, to be happy and healthy and wise, happy because I thought that you, that they, would love me for this sacrifice, would benefit from it more than I could ever possibly benefit from spending the same time on myself.
What was your deal, asshole? Did you think I was a cheat? Impossible. You know I never left the house if it wasn’t to pick up something that belonged to you: your boys, your food, your dry cleaning. Don’t even fucking think of telling me, asshole, that I was ever anything close to unfaithful, twenty damned years of playing the little wife, happy just to serve you, to adore you, because I did, I really did, you were my first love, my only love, the only man I ever undressed for, my only priority save Jesus and our babies.
My faith has been both blessing and curse to me, a blessing for the modicum of hope it gave me, enough to let me get by, in spite of all the hurt you caused me; a curse because of all the conflict it’s caused me, because of the decade and a half of therapy it’s taken me to accept that even a God-fearing woman is allowed to hate how you treated me, allowed to mourn this loss, allowed to forgive you for leaving me up shit creek without a paddle, without needing to obliterate from my mind all the pain and confusion you caused me.
After all, the only reason I can still hate you as much as I do, after all this time, is that I still fucking love you. I do, you’re still the only one, still the only man on earth I’d give an arm for, a leg, a lung, I’d give you anything, I’d change anything, anything, just to have you back here with me for a minute, a day, for one more kiss, one more I love you, one more moment in your sweet, strong arms, one more moment in paradise.
I hate you because I adore you, even now that you have made a ghost of me, now that I am nothing more than the walking dead, going through the motions, keeping up the perfect mother and perfect wife routines even now that it has long become evident to everyone but me that these represent nothing more than an act, an act of insanity perhaps, a persistent fake which exists only to sustain my unfailing hope that one day, you might realise the error of your ways and come home.
Faking it has been hard, asshole, you left me with that big old mortgage to pay on my own, with no choice but to go back to work, abruptly, in the midst of all that trauma and psychological disarray, juggling dying patients and potty-training and putting wholesome dinners on the table, trying not to cry so damn much I ended up with mascara in the bisque. Failing, mostly, managing only to hide my tears from your babies, something I did only for you, only because they were yours, all I had left of you.
Why did you do this to me? If only you could have answered the question before you ran off on me, literally ran, with nothing more than your cellphone and a wallet full of cash, ran away from me, from our babies, without a word, not so much as a text message, a note on the refrigerator door.
Don’t you realise what a fucking mess you made for me, asshole? Don’t you realise that a cold hard truth back then would have hurt so much less than the years of nothingness you left me with instead? And what about our babies, huh? They’re men now. Didn’t they deserve more than this? Couldn’t you at least have reached out to them, explained yourself, let them know you’re here for them now, even if you weren’t when they needed you most?
I need to know why, it still drives me crazy, I still cook up a thousand new theories each day, still extrapolate wild conjectures from our last moments together, still try to reconstruct some tenuous truth, still strive to ascertain just what the fuck I ever did to deserve this.
So what was it, asshole? Another woman? A man? Something better? How could you just disappear like that, like a fucking nutcase? I cannot believe it, cannot accept it. You were the sanest person I knew! How?
Twenty damned years, twenty years of living purgatory, twenty years of this endless and torturous hope that one day, you might show up at the door and I might take you back in, back into my arms, my heart, my bed, like nothing happened.
I kept myself beautiful for you, for you only, for all this time, just like when we were married, just like all those times we went to dinner and I, dressed with ostensible modesty, kept my fishnet stockings and my perfect sunkissed ass, my stripper heels, just for you: concealed under long skirts and flowing dresses, for your eyes only, the only eyes I cared to have run over my body, for your hands only, hands that put that ring on my finger while I was still a damned kid, the only hands to touch me, the only hands I ever wanted to hold mine.
Wasn’t I perfect for you? What was it you used to say – an angel in the kitchen, a devil in bed? Don’t you remember how I used to talk to you? You told me, asshole, that I deserved an Olympic gold for my filthy bedside manner, for my body, that body I worked so hard to keep, these big firm breasts which surpassed every picture in those magazines you read, gave the professionals a run for their money, except that mine were just for you, not clickbait, not sexual junk food to gratify a thousand cravings just like yours, but your personal possession, a secret to everyone else. Didn’t you mean it? What?
Twenty fucking years, asshole, I’ve been keeping these rings of yours on my fingers, letting them tie my hands, manacles rather than symbols of marital fidelity and love, for where is the love? How can I tell myself you ever loved me? You ghosted me, ghosted our family, just like we were nothing at all.
Ghost, I’ve lived half my life as a ghost now, asshole, you made a ghost of me, left my life suspended at the precise moment you abandoned me, senselessly and wordlessly, and this ghost is still sitting here, pathetic, growing old, waiting for you to come home.
They recovered your body in the lake last night, when they were looking for that little girl who fell off the pier three days ago, whose poor father couldn’t save her despite almost drowning himself.
So, sweetheart, you’re a ghost too now. This job of mine has exposed me to so many corpses, bodies of patients I loved, little kids, neighbours, dear souls I adored more than any professional ought ever to have done. But I did not want to see you, not you, the idea made me sick, though I had to, I needed closure. I did it alone, your boys would not come. In all these years I never said a bad word about you in front of them, no: they decided of their own accord that you were nothing to them, perhaps because they felt for so long that they were nothing to you.
Closure, no, it gave me no closure at all, only a swimming disarray of unanswerable questions no earthly being ever could address. Did you do it on purpose? Did I hurt you? Overwhelm you? Do something wrong? What the hell was so bad we couldn’t have fixed it together?
Or did you just fall, huh? You were always a klutz, sweetheart, I always worried about you, all those sprained ankles and broken toes, all the dishes you seemed to smash when you helped me put them away, the constant series of inexplicable dinges and dents in your cars I found so endearing.
How can I ever know? God won’t tell me, no matter how hard I cry, no matter how fervently I pray, he’s keeping his mouth firmly shut on the matter. Has he stopped caring now too?
How can I bury you, sweetheart, without knowing if I caused this? How can I ever know if hurt you? You must have known, sweetheart, that you were my life, you must have seen, sweetheart, that I gave you everything, that you were the centre of my little universe, that I would have been so happy, only making you happy, doing nothing else for the rest of my life?
How can I know if you were hiding some awful secret, some terrible pain from me? And why? Why would you do it? I was always there for you, spent hours gently prodding you about your days, your work, vicariously enjoying your victories and mourning with you over every little setback. I knew you so well, sweetheart, you were my life’s work, my life stopped when you stopped being a part of it, I became nothing more than an unwound watch, a broken toy, a worthless and redundant thing, its main purpose brutally torn away from one day to the next.
It haunts me, sweetheart, I’d go back to crying black tears into the bisque but now, there’s nobody to cook for but me, nobody to put on the damned mascara for, not today, not now that you’re gone, you, the only one I ever wanted, the only man on earth who can never be replaced.
I eat nothing now, nothing but handfuls of benzodiazepines, trying to numb the pain of losing my first, my only real love, the pain of accepting that I’ll never know why or how this happened, the pain of realising that, for all these years, it was not me the ghost, but you.
I don’t want to bury you sweetheart, I want to go with you, to be with you again, to feel your love again, to hold you close and let my heart heal, against yours, heal from all the lies I told it over the years, just to keep it alive with rage, for it needed some strong emotion to survive not having its only love around.
Sweetheart, I’m in the bath now, shaving my legs, conditioning my hair, downing my second bottle of champagne. You always loved our champagne baths, loved how I filled your glass and kissed your feet and told you how perfect you were; this is the first one I’ve had since you left. Knowing that you are gone, not into the sunset with some dumb bottle-blonde, but into the next life, gives it new meaning. My stockings, my dress, my prettiest underwear, your favourite lipstick, they are all waiting for me on the chair, with my bottle of sleeping pills and my note, to my boys, to my God, overflowing with love, with heartfelt petitions for their forbearance and forgiveness.
I’ll pile up my hair now, just how you liked it, sweetheart, put on enough warpaint to conceal my broken heart one last time. Then I’ll put on those pretty things you loved, gulp down these pills, make my way to join you. I’m too tired of living this lie, too tired to do anything but be with you, too tired for anything more than the faint unfading hope that, in heaven, where all is perfection and love, you’ll finally tell me your truth.