With so many of our young men, and women, choosing to commit suicide upon returning from the hell of war, this is an important subject.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Holy Bible, NIV 1999).
I'll never forget the last words my fiancé said to me before I watched him die. “You want me to end all your problems, Heather? I’ll end them all right now!” He pushed and clawed through the air towards our bedroom, and emerged clutching his father’s Smith & Wesson 9 mm. His legs were unsteady as he worked to stabilize himself. He grimaced as he buried the gun’s muzzle into his right temple, his index finger slowly curling around the trigger. His eyes clenched into narrow lines, and his lips pursed. Oh no…. no… I could feel my throat swell, while balls of fear jumped up within my pregnant belly, and moved up to my finger tips. My mind resisted this grave moment and spun in the commotion. Merely hours before, our contentment was observable. We had discovered I was pregnant and were planning our wedding. How did we get to sadistic threats of self execution?
Even now, it's difficult to speak about Curt in the past tense. From the moment our eyes met, our story takes off at a fierce gallop. We jumped into a whirlwind relationship when I was barely eighteen. We worked together, but with opposite shifts, so we hadn’t really noticed each other. That changed one night at work when I began calling for a “Captain” (our appealing name for bouncers), to remove a drunken man who was being obscene towards me. I had never needed a captain’s assistance before, but I was becoming incensed. The walkie-talkie’s static answered, “I’ll send someone right over Heather.” Offended and annoyed, I waited for my back-up. Reinforcement arrived in a posh blue suit. At 6’ 8” tall, it wasn’t difficult to take notice of this beautiful man walking towards me, who literally stood head and shoulders above everyone else. I took one look at him and picked my jaw up off the floor. I felt drawn to him, as if he tugged some invisible rope around my waist. As he came closer, I couldn't stop staring at him. He was beautiful. His straight, jet-black hair was slicked back, but stubborn ringlets curled up at the nape of his white Oxford collar. His deeply set, piercing brown eyes only added to his cultural élan. Without saying a word, he looped his hand through the inebriated cat-caller’s Western-style belt, and carried him at least fifty feet to the front doors (using the man’s head to open them), and directly into a waiting cab. He was so quick, it was astounding. When I gathered back my footing, I turned to my co-worker and whispered, “He’s mine.” I enthusiastically thought about him all night, I couldn’t wait to see him again.
The next day, I noticed on the schedule that he was off. Crap! Sauntering off to my station, no sooner did my heart sink that I saw him walking towards me. Oh God! I spun around and quickly slather on some lip gloss. He casually sat in one of my booths. He had obviously come straight from a karate class, as he was still wearing a gee, with a clean white T-shirt. His hair was disheveled in a such a cute way, I wanted to reach out and twirl one of those black ringlets around my index finger. Get it together Heather! I smoothed my skirt and walked towards him. I casually smiled, the actress in me talking over with a composed, even detached, job performance. I offered him menu and asked if he’d like something to drink, looking back and forth between him and the quivering menu in my hands. Why can’t we will ourselves not to quiver? Guess who immediately failed in her coolness attempt? He smoothly took it from me, his large hand instantly shadowing half the menu size. He never broke eye contact with me. I unintentionally started biting my lip and shifting my feet, until he finally answered. “I’ll just have a bottle of water,” his voice is so smooth and cultured that I didn’t respond right away because my stomach was fluttering. The room suddenly felt so small. “Are you alright?” His raspy voice made me blink out of my daze, and I stuttered back into gear. “Of course,” I tried to respond nonchalantly. I was irritated with myself for appearing so awkward and frazzled. “One water, coming up,” I chirped and scampered away like a frightened rabbit. I try to keep from looking his direction, because every time I risk that glance at him, I discover him watching me intently. Lard, this man is hot! His gaze is almost sexual, I nearly felt taken right there. My father had attempted to educate me how to interpret men, and this god in a suit was trouble.
When the wall of shyness fell and the intensity of our magnetic attraction was voiced, we began dating. I fell in love with him almost instantly. I especially loved his quick wit and inane sense of humor. When he entered a room, he’d usually slap the top of the door frame with his palm. He’d whirl around and grab his forehead, moaning as if he’d hit his head. He’d grunt like a pitiful animal on its last leg, and the room would explode in laughter. He was single-handedly an incredible ice-breaker. Little did I know at the time, but these comedic episodes disguised a man so tormented by depression that he’d tried to take his life twice before we met. We spent all of our time together. If we weren’t working, I was linked to his arm dancing, laughing at “The Improv” comedy club, or eating out at restaurants (especially small Italian chateaus).I loved being wrapped up in his chest, it made me feel so sheltered and loved. He reminded people of the actor, Steven Seagal, and he loved that ersatz. He was always donning the most modern Italian fashions; most of which he had custom tailored because of his height.
My period had always been fairly regular, so when I suddenly felt hung-over, dog-tired, and experienced a bout of nausea without the “fun” of drinking, I bought an at-home pregnancy test. Pee on the little stick, and wait, and wait. I sat on the toilet, plopped up with my elbows on the sink, and stared at the stick-test as if it were deadly. The longest 3 minutes of my life. Curt and I had been together only seven months, so when the two fuzzy pink lines suddenly told me that I was pregnant, I was worried. I felt so irresponsible and reckless. I must’ve looked so childish when I told Curt I as pregnant, fidgeting like a little girl, afraid of his reaction. Thankfully, he seemed extremely happy, as if he’d premeditated and desired this baby all along.
About a week after discovering was pregnant, I heard Curt's voice talking over the main intercom at “Dave & Buster's, "where we worked. "Heather Hager, please come to reservations." He never used the intercom system before? I excitedly chased his voice and discovered him at the hostess station, right in the middle of where we had met. Every eye had turned to watch us. I blushed in giddy delight. He smiled at me, winked, then fearlessly asked into the microphone, "Heather Hager, I love you! Will you marry me?" The intercom protested with some squeaky feedback that made everyone giggle. He stepped down before me, and dropped to one knee. Even on his knees, I was almost eye-to-eye with him. He placed a stunning engagement ring upon my finger. I shouted, “Yes!” I was bright eyed and thrilled as I jumped up into his arms. The crowd that had gathered around us cheered and clapped. Romantic whistles and varying tones of "congratulations!" echoed throughout the restaurant. He laughed, and it sounded like the bark of a content seal, it was so funny. I was anxious, but excited about creating a new family together. That night, after watching Saturday Night Live, Curt cuddled up behind me and whispered sweetly in my ear, “you’re going to have a girl, you should name her Kira.” His voice was alight with joy. What did he mean by “I” will have a girl, what happened to we?“ Children keep you alive,” he murmured as he fell into a still sleep. ‘Inner monologue’ red flag; unseen. He tenderly cupped his hands on my belly, and we fell asleep.
Curt battled with depression and threatened suicide twice in our relationship.When I warily told his best friend about his suicidal tendencies, he was not surprised. I guess I was the only shocked one! He told me that Curt had overdosed about a year before we met, the depression stemming from a failed prior relationship. I knew none of this at first. But I immediately reflected on my mother, and figured it was a pitiable excuse to manipulate my feelings. Nevertheless, I wanted, and thought, I could help him by myself. I did not tell anyone else about Curt’s suicidal threats. In my mistaken thinking, I did not want embarrass him in front of his family and friends. I believed that on this fateful night, it would be like any other time I had heard someone I loved flippantly threaten suicide. I was dead wrong.
Now time is twisted, and his gaze is unwavering as he hovers over me, waving a gun. I gape at him, the blood pounding hard in my ears. He begins to pace the apartment like a restless tiger in a cage; back and forth, back and forth. What was going on? This was just a minor dispute, just a quick stab of jealousy from an overly hormonal pregnant teenager. I tucked my legs tightly beneath me on the couch, somehow that made me feel safer. It felt like there was no time in that room. I dipped my head up to look at him. “Put down the gun Curt, you’re really scaring me,” I helplessly pleaded, wanting to up the ante of amity. Surprisingly, he allowed the weapon to drop to his side, but held his grip. I was appreciative the gun was not pointed at his head, but that ounce of relief was all too fleeting.
I nervously stroked the leg of the coffee table with my foot, I had no idea what to say or do next. He continued his pacing tempo and it was making me frantic. Ina defeated tone I asked, “Why in the hell are you doing this to me?” The atmosphere of the tiny apartment immediately changed. His eyes widened, and it seemed his reason returned. I bristled, stock still. I know it sounds cliché, but everything slowed down as if I were watching a movie. He was not hesitant as he lifted the weapon towards his head again, his hand tightening around the gun’s base. Knowing what was coming next, his face went taut and his eyes narrowed closed. A loud pop echoed throughout the room, but the noise didn’t sound like a gunshot, it resembled a muffled firework. Curt’s head jerked back, and he fell so hard to the floor that he appeared to be weighed down. He lay there unnaturally still, like a broken doll. I kept fluttering my eyes open and closed, trying to block out the image that was playing in front of me.
I leapt for the phone, and in a panic, I dialed 1411. Oh God, I can’t remember the number for 911! Helpless as a child, I was unable to think. Trying not to lose control, I keep dialing; 1411, 411, no 911! The emergency operator answered, and I blurted out in a combination of tears and screaming, “My boyfriend shot himself!” I gasped for breath in my urgency. “Where do you live?” she calmly asked. “I don’t know,” I said. I really did not know! “What’s your name?” She inquired. “I don’t know,” I mumbled. I was in shock, that fast. It was as if a black curtain just went up right between Curt and me. I was totally disorientated, as if I was within an emotional blackout, my reality was warped. Just like an unsafe surge of electricity will trip a circuit breaker off, a surge of trauma can trip our emotional "circuit breakers," provisionally. Mine were tripped. My life had completely changed in the blink of an eye, at the speed of a bullet.
Forlorn, pregnant, and diagnosed with (medically untreated) severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I felt so scared and alone.Frequently, I didn’t feel pregnant, because I felt so “empty inside.” I was so terrified of losing my baby. I searched for hope anywhere I could. Not even a “real” Christian, I even began to wear a gold cross around my neck.
Unfortunately, my family didn’t understand why, at my age, I wanted to “keep” this baby, and insisted that I have an abortion. I refused. They repeatedly lied to me to coerce me to terminate my growing baby, they felt sure I would “resent” it one day because of what Curt had done. I still refused. They didn't quit, and while I was still in a dazed shock, my immediate family formed a "plot." They offered me lunch out, to deliver an appalling and wholly immoral fabrication. As I attempted to eat, every member of my family started to agree in telling me that I “Could not have a baby, due to an inherited genetic disease, and it would die anyway.” Oh my God! They continued adding, “I would die even trying to carry the baby.” Why me? My heart broke again, the pain felt more excruciating than Curt’s death. I bawled at them defiantly, “then we will die together!” As their spew of lies sunk in, I reached up to yank that cursed cross off my neck, but my sister stopped me. “I will not kill Curt’s baby!” The attempted intimidation ended for that day, but they would try again soon, in an even more detestable manner.
As soon as we pulled into the doctor’s office parking lot, my heart rushed with appreciation. My tummy fluttered with excitement. Finally, my mother and father told me that they had accepted my choice, and wanted to pay for me to see an OB/GYN to, "make sure everything was OK with the baby." I was still waiting for Medicaid, but thanks to them, I would find out if my baby was ok. I felt it was miraculous that I did not lose him/her from the PTSD and severe trauma alone. I was eager and relieved; I felt desperate for a doctor’s assurance. Would I be able to see our baby on a sonogram? I fidgeted on the table in excitement, staring at the silly puppy poster on the ceiling. Oh, the embarrassments of being a woman. I swung my legs back and forth on the table like a giddy child. I wonder if they’ll let me hear the heart-beat today. I imagined the quick, rabbit-like beating of her tiny heart and couldn’t help but snigger out loud. My mothers eyes studied me questionably in the rear view mirror.
There was a quick knock, and the doctor finally entered the examination room. He wasn’t asking me any questions,and I began to feel uneasy. He squeezed on a pair of latex gloves and told me lie back on the examination table and put my legs into the stirrups, so I did. “Ready? "He asked. Ready for what? Alarms went off inside my head. My head sprang up, and I questioned him about what I was preparing for. He nonchalantly replied, “To terminate your pregnancy.” What the hell! I snapped and screamed at that doctor so loudly that my face went scarlet, and literally felt hot. They brought me to an abortion clinic! I couldn’t believe the betrayal, what they had just done to me. They never even apologized. I ran out the door without speaking to either one of them. What my parents did not know was that I had already taken the life of their grandchild, and I couldn’t do it again.
Teardrops that Tango:
Silent No More, Since 2007
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Holy Bible, NIV 1999. Isaiah 49:15)
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Teardrops; A Basic Outline:
- Tumultuous childhood with manic depressive, bi-polar mother
- When I was 16, our house burned down on Thanksgiving
- When I was 17, I had a horrific abortion experience
- When I was 18 and newly pregnant, my fiancée shot himself in the head, standing one foot in front of me
- When I was 22 and pregnant with my second child, my 48 year old mother, Valerie, overdosed on her anti-depressants, leaving a scathing but confusing note - When I was 23, my husband and father of my second child, Rick, killed himself in his car by carbon monoxide poisoning (snaking a vacuum tube from his car’s exhaust pipe, into his window. A picture of myself and his children taped to the dash.)
- When I was 26, my father Hoyt, died from cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism. He died in my arms.
- How my son with Down's brought me Up!
- The Gift
- Hope & Cope
- Man’s Will to Meaning (Introduction to Christian Logo therapy)