If you have lost a loved one unexpectedly to suicide you understand the overwhelming need to find answers. I replayed back our entire week, reviewed our texts, checked our computer history, and searched our entire apartment. What did I miss? How could I not have seen the signs of suicide?
Friday night I left for a baby shower. Shawn texted me about increasing requirements for his new job and that he and Gracie missed me. He texted again later sharing that he was feeling anxious that he would not be able to start his job as early as he expected-I know he had some concerns financially. I told him that Gracie and I love having him home and that we will be okay! Later I checked back in and he said, “I’m okay, thanks!” Saturday I texted, “6 months from now I get to marry my best friend. Love you so much my handsome man.” To which he replied, “Woo-hoo Love you 2!” He seemed happy to have me back home on Sunday. We finished our save the dates that night.
Monday at lunch I texted Shawn about getting crayons thrown at me at work (the joys of special education) and he texted, “That sucks, hun. Sorry you have to deal with that. Love you.” That night we watched the Bachelor. Tuesday night we had a snowball fight with Gracie. Wednesday we hung out, watched TV, and baked an apple pie my friend had made me for Christmas.
Thursday– our last night together. I called Shawn right after work as I often do. I said I was hungry already and he told me he was hungry for breadsticks. When I got home, Shawn found a coupon and ordered pizza and breadsticks. We ate and then hung out on the couch watching Netflix. Shawn’s new boss called and he signed a contract for his new job at 7:57 pm. We both fell asleep on the couch and when we woke up I went to bed, but Shawn said he was not tired. He came into the room to say good night and said I love you, as we do every night. It all seemed very normal.
Looking back that last night, I believe Shawn did tell me, “You’re my future love.” And I said, “No, I’m your future wife, I’m already your love.” Did he know then? Did he mean he would be my love in heaven? There were also certain looks he gave me throughout the week that made me think something was on his mind. In the aftermath of suicide, you start to question every look, every word, and every action.
What I did know: Early in our relationship, Shawn had shared that every couple years he had a hard time in winter. Many years ago, he had even shared he had thoughts of ending his life and that had always stayed in the back of my mind. I urged him to seek out counseling or medication at that time, but he never did. In hindsight, I can clearly see lows in 2011, 2013 (the year we got Gracie), and this past year. This past December, Shawn stopped working at his job. He was not happy in his position and felt anxious at the thought of returning. As someone who is on medication for anxiety, I shared with him that what he was experiencing could be a chemical imbalance and that he should again seek out medical treatment. Shawn did make a doctors appointment, but later canceled. He started applying for jobs, going on interviews, and received a new job offer January 6. Overall, life seemed to be moving forward.
I had no idea the extent of Shawn’s pain and that is what breaks my heart the most. I guess we can never truly know the innermost thoughts and feelings of those we love, but I do strongly believe he suffered from untreated anxiety and depression. Shawn left the earth with a very simple text, “I’m sorry if I failed you in anyway. I love you all. I’m headed to a better place!” I just pray he knows that he could have never failed me-my love for him is unconditional-always was and always will be. Until we meet again, my future love.