The Love of My Life Died from Suicide and I'm Trying to Share His Music
April 22, 2015
I could map out my teenage years and entire adult life by the moments spent with Keith. I first met him in middle school, when he was a shy, curly-haired skateboarder in a Nirvana T-shirt. When we were in eighth grade I learned he had a crush on me. We first kissed when we were in high school. We officially became boyfriend and girlfriend in my college dorm room. He was the artist, a musician, but he was always my muse.
We’d been off and on in the seven years since my sophomore year of college, partly because I could never find anybody whose love for me felt nearly as deep. We had been living together for six months, when in March of this year we had a terrible, late-evening argument. That night, Keith died “from suicide.”
The night suicide took Keith, we had gotten into an awful fight I’ll regret for the rest of my life, because he was the love of my life. I was still angry when I asked him to turn off the light in the hallway, and when he walked out of the room and did not come back right away, I assumed he stepped outside for a cigarette or a walk, maybe even into the living room to write in his journal. But after peeking through my bedroom window to the stoop out front 15 minutes after he had walked away, I realized his shoes were still in the house. He hadn’t gone for a walk, so I went looking for him inside.
That’s when I found him, in the early hours of March 7th, hanging by the neck from the landing above the stairs in our apartment. He stayed alive, his eyes bloodshot and half-open, for about 12 hours after I had cut him down. I knew, though, as soon as the paramedics told me his pupils were not reacting to light, that he wouldn’t survive. I had learned the brain’s failure to modulate pupils is a death sentence from reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I read after another tragedy in 2013.
Had I gone looking for Keith sooner I could have rescued him. I know this because the paramedics, nurses and doctors all asked how long he’d gone without oxygen. I wonder if, during his last moments alive, Keith changed his mind. Did he take his final breath hoping that I would come and find him? Keith struggled with addiction and depression for years and I did everything I could to save him. And yet, I feel like I failed him at the moment he needed me most.
Listen to a playlist of Keith’s music: