Tonight we celebrated Marcel’s sister’s tenth anniversary. At his parents’ house at supper, we talked about the wedding ten years ago. The wedding reception took place in a tent in the front yard. It was a lovely day. Everyone was happy. Well, almost everyone.
My memory of that day brings knots to my stomach and a lump to my throat. My memory of that day is…darkness.
That was in the middle of Marcel’s deep dark depression. I remember him sitting on a chair at the wedding, slumped over, no light in his eyes, and no joy in his face. It was scary as hell seeing him that way. He’s one of the funniest people I know, and without his sense of humour, he was just a shell of himself. He was in a deep dark pit he couldn’t pull himself out of, and there was so little I could do to help.
We tried to get help, but weren’t very successful. So few people around us at the time had any experience dealing with depression, so we didn’t really know where to turn. In the middle of it all, I did so many things wrong. I was just trying to cope. We all were. I got mad, I cried, I told him to snap out of it, I took him to doctors, I tried to appeal to his guilt – I’m sure I tried every trick in the book. If you asked me now how to help someone going through depression, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, because I know I didn’t do it right.
After weeks of darkness, a few weeks after the wedding, he gave up hope. He disappeared, and I was sure I’d lost him. He drove to a quiet place and, with a knife he’d taken from our kitchen, tried to end it all.
Thank God, his attempts at suicide failed. When he woke up and found himself still alive, he decided God must have wanted him to stay alive, so he got himself to a hospital. All the while, not knowing where he was for over 12 hours, I waited, I cried, I screamed, I drove around like a mad-woman looking for him, and I longed for just one more chance to let him know I loved him.
Through hours of surgery, we waited – his family and some of mine. In the morning, the doctors told us he would live. I was relieved, but I just didn’t know what that would mean. Even if he was still alive, what if he decided to try again? What if he wasn’t convinced life was worth it? What if we’d have to face this all over again a few months down the line?
Slowly, though, he began to recover. He got help and learned more about this disease of his. He confronted some of the skeletons in his closet, and figured out how to face them without fear. His doctor prescribed medication, and soon the light began to sparkle in his eyes again.
Four months later, Nikki was born, and fatherhood transformed him. He set about to be the most amazing dad he could be.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years already. At the time, I really didn’t know how our marriage would survive such a bumpy road. But we stuck it out, clung to each other, and found our way out of the darkness together. Now we’re stronger for it.
Now, ten years later, I have so much admiration for Marcel. He has shown so much bravery in turning his life around. He has faced so many fears and come out the victor. One of the greatest challenges he faced was quitting his job after being in the workforce for 22 years, and heading off to university for the first time in his life. Not everyone will take such a risk late in their thirties. He has learned to cope with anxiety and depression and he has found ways of helping others cope.
He’s my hero. I can’t imagine life without him. I can’t imagine never laughing with him again. I can’t imagine not watching our children grow up together. I can’t imagine sleeping without the warmth of his body next to mine. I can’t imagine not hearing him call me “Buddy”. I can’t imagine how I could have gone on living if he hadn’t survived.