He Saved Me From Myself

The following is a conversation that will never come to fruition with my first psychiatrist. He was the doctor who diagnosed me with major depressive disorder. He was also one of my dad’s best friends since high school, so when I finally broke down and told my parents I needed help, he is the person they called. He remained my doctor even when I moved away for college, and he helped me through things I couldn’t even wrap my mind around.

While I was away at college he was in a terrible car accident that put him in a coma for months. It was amazing that he woke up at all. He woke with short term memory loss and unable to walk. He had to give up his medical license due to the brain injury so he started a life coaching business. I moved home after college and continued to see him. He was more than my doctor, more than my dad’s friend, he was my friend. He helped save me from myself and I loved him dearly. He struggled with the effects from his accident, so determined to get back what he had lost, but it turned out that he couldn’t. I don’t know exactly what happened in the end or how he ended up in hospice, but my dad told me that he was drinking a lot and had basically just given up. This was difficult for me to write, I am not ashamed to say I cried as I typed, but it was cathartic for me as well.

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It is one of those postcard perfect spring days; warm but not hot, breezy but not windy, a few clouds decorate the bright blue sky but it’s not overcast. I smile as I watch him walk toward me, looking just as he did when we first met all those years ago. He hugs me, with a strength meant to make up for lost time, and we sit down. As beautiful as the view is, we know there is not much time and there is so much to say. Simply saying hello brings tears to my eyes, and I know in a moment they will slide gently down my cheeks. He is used to seeing me cry, but this time my tears are for him.

(Me) I didn’t think I would ever see you again…

(Him) I know. I’m sorry I couldn’t share my pain with you, I didn’t want you to see me like that.

(Me) But I would have been there. You helped carry my load for so long, through so many life altering experiences.. I wish I could have done the same for you.

I am unable to hide my emotions and the tears fall freely, but he understands and hands me a tissue (like he has done so many times in the past) as we continue to talk.

(Me) When my parents told me, I didn’t believe them. You lived through so many things that would have killed others, there was no way you were really gone. Except you were. And I didn’t even know you were ill. How horribly selfish of me, to not keep in touch regularly, to not check in with you and see how you were doing. You saved my life in more ways than one and I needed you to know that, but it was too late.

(Him) You didn’t have to say it out loud, I knew. I knew what I meant to you, and I was so proud of you. I’m still proud of you, I have never left you completely, you just can’t see me anymore.

(Me) But how could you give up on yourself like that? After convincing me that life was worth living and things would get better for me, did you not believe the same for yourself? How could you just let go?

(Him) I suppose I was a bit depressed myself. After so much physical therapy and setbacks, I was so determined to walk again but my body never got strong enough, no matter how hard I worked for it. I started drinking more, I was angry with my body and exhausted from the mental side effects from the crash. It wasn’t just my body that wasn’t working right, it was my brain too. I never intentionally gave up, but I guess that’s what ended up happening.

The gentle falling of my tears turns into quiet sobs; he takes my hand in his as the conversation continues.

(Me) Why didn’t you, or anyone, call my dad when you went into hospice? I would give anything to have been able to see you one last time, to tell you how much I love you and how grateful I am for having you in my life.

(Him) I’m not sure where the disconnect was when it came to the end. Your father was one of my best friends since high school and I deeply respect him. I just don’t know why nobody called him, I’m sorry. But I knew then, like I know now, how you feel about me, and I am grateful for you too. You have come so far since walking into my office all those years ago, you were so sad and scared and confused. Now look at you, didn’t I tell you that you would find happiness? I know how frustrated you were, having to try so many different medications for your depression, it’s hard to keep moving forward until you find the right combination, but you did. You held on, even when you were convinced you couldn’t bare it any longer, you did. And the happiness you enjoy today is what you always deserved, I could not be more proud of you.

(Me) I wish you were here, I wish I could introduce you to my fiancé, I wish…

(Him) I know. But I will always be with you because you keep me in your heart.

(Me) And I always will. You are a big part of who I am today, and I will never forget.

We both know that our hour is coming to an end, and it is as beautiful a moment as it is painful. I don’t want to say goodbye, but at least this time I get to. So we sit on the bench as the sun begins to dip into the ocean. I rest my head on his shoulder as we sit side by side and I take a deep breath. I will never forget this feeling. Though tears still stain my cheeks they are not so sad anymore, there is a sense of peace in the air and I want to drink it in until I am overflowing. And I do.

*I still think about him often.  His loss still brings tears to my eyes, especially on my darkest days, when I yearn for his guidance most.  I still hope to make him proud and honor everything he did to save me from myself.

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