You’d always had a chemical imbalance, Maureen, ever since you flipped out in law school, that’s the way I remember it. You knew you’d never pass the bar, and you couldn’t find any other way to go on in life, as if just hanging in there was not an option for you. That’s the way I remember you. It was why you couldn’t rest without taking sleeping pills. You’d been cheated out of a career, just like I was. I wanted to be a high school band director, but I couldn’t make it thru university life with any kind of credentials. Is that what happened to you, Maureen? Can you read what I’m writing to you in Hell?
Look here, Maureen. I’m writing to you in the middle of the goddamn night again, as if you can read my computer screen in Hell. You think I don’t know you’re in Hell? You think I don’t know what I’m talking about, like you were always too sophisticated to tell me when you were alive? You think I’ve got anything left for you besides anger, Maureen? You piss me off. You had to go and kill yourself. What did you do that for? That never gets anybody anything they want.
Are you so completely alone and tormented, now that the fact that I always loved you is nothing to you but one more torment, along with the rest of the things that make your destruction hot and horrible, the way they say Hell is? I’ve read the Bible. I believe you’re destroyed, Maureen. What am I supposed to do with that information? You wouldn’t ever do anything with me, but sit there in my car in the rain that one day, while I fumbled for words. You wouldn’t even talk. The next thing I heard, you were dead. It’s not fair to me, Maureen. I’ve got to go on, with all my regrets, but at least I’ve got a life, unlike you. You’re nothing but a skeleton and some dust.
Was becoming a lawyer really more important to you than life itself, dear girl? You’re nothing now but a lawyer in hell, as far as I know. The only way I ever heard of you’re big idea, was that you could never pass the bar. That was why your life was not worth living when you were so young and beautiful. You were just in your twenties, like we all were in those days, in that high brow group therapy of ours in the Ritz.
We were such a select bunch in that high class baby sitting organization they called a day treatment center in that outpatient program in those days. We’d all been inpatients in that special, sinfully expensive hospital for the rich and famous, for the insane with good insurance to rely on. I’d always had a certain fascination for you, but you were always so untouchable. You were just about as unreachable as I was in those days. Why was it that I survived and you didn’t, Maureen? I’d like to know that. I don’t believe you can come to me from Hell and tell me what you missed in life that I found. I’ll have to guess it for myself.
Was it only my little bit of faith that I could never share with anyone in those days, which I had simmering on the back burner, nonetheless, in those days of wine and roses? That must have been what made the difference for me, the big difference between the two of us. I was always one of my Higher Power’s own. You were just a sparkling, brilliant, lovable mess. I watched you while you were building up your critical mass of sleep pills, so that eventually they couldn’t wake you up again when you went back to the ER that last time.
They had to let you die, because of the cumulative dosage of sleeping medications in your blood stream was too strong. You’d had too much. That’s what George Banks told me in my car after you were gone. You took too much. You were always taking too much. Do you realize I wrecked my car when I heard you were dead? What did you want, Maureen? You must have had some kind of idea about what death would be like for you, when you tried to kill yourself so regularly, over such a long period of years. Well, is it the way you imagined? Do you regret it as much as I think you do? Why don’t you answer me, Maureen?
Come on, Maureen. Come to my heart, out of Hell, and tell me it was worth it to you to destroy your lovely, luscious young self, instead of getting involved with saving our lives with me. I found a way to get my life pulled out of the fire after the longest time, but then, my folks always had a faith and hope. It was a subtlety to me in those days, but I learned how to hang in there.
What got into all of us young adults in those days, anyway? I was just as self destructive as you were; you knew I was. I was ready for the oven by the time you were ready for the morgue. I did all sorts of foolishness to myself over believing what hateful people said about me, who never knew anything but how to be unkind to me, like my older brother always was. Didn’t anyone ever care about you, or try to help you any? You weren’t a drug addict, Maureen, like me, were you?
We never met on that level. I was always turning, but I never knew you to do it, in all the years I knew you. All the time you had to find some way to get to sleep. You were afraid of not being able to sleep, the way I remember it. There was some kind of reason you thought you should not be alive. You should be asleep. Why was that? You were always a nice person, a beautiful young woman. You didn’t have to destroy yourself the way you did. That wasn’t fair to any of us, the way you just wouldn’t quit until you got the dosage right.
How many times did we all try to help you, in all those days in and out of the hospital?
I was believing I was a monster in those days, but you were just feeling hopeless. Why couldn’t you find anything but the drug store when you felt like you couldn’t go on? The most famous private hospital in North America couldn’t give you back your chance to become a lawyer. You knew that. Why didn’t you ever look for something else in life? Couldn’t you ever find anything else to live for, Maureen? My heart is still crying out to you, but you never respond to me, because you’re in Hell. You’re cut off from the land of the living.
You never gave me the slightest chance to be anything to you, as I’d always wished I had been. You just kept taking all those goddamned sleeping pills, and going to the ER all the time. I tried to give you a vote of confidence when you were in my car, that one, solitary time you let me drive you home in the rain. I knew you were in trouble. I tried to help you. I tried to be a gentle as possible, when I told you I cared about you. You wouldn’t ever open up, anymore that I would in those days.
Anyone who tried to open me up got cussed out in those days. That’s the way I was. Anyone who showed up with any kind of street drugs got my undivided attention in that day and time. Any of the others in that exclusive little group of ours didn’t ever have a ghost of a chance to get along with me in those days, if they wanted me to talk about why I thought I was a monster. I was always cussing people out to keep them away from me.
You would never open up about the real issue you were struggling with. That was a matter of years, as inpatients and outpatients together. They tried to open us both up in all those therapy sessions, but there was no getting it done in those days. I would cuss, but you would always take the intellectual way out. You had a bigger wall around you than I had.
Nothing would assuage your self loathing, Maureen, whenever you wanted to go to sleep. Was it really suicide, or was it only a bad habit you couldn’t kick? Was it only a habit, because you just kept doing it over and over? Did you really plan to survive, after all? You were a smart young woman. You would have known the sleeping pills would become lethal, wouldn’t you? I tried to tell you, as if the doctors never did. Why wouldn’t you let me care about you? Why, Maureen?
The point was that you never cared about yourself. So, you took the coward’s way out. I’ve been wasting my emotions for forty years thinking about how I loved you. You didn’t care if I did. You had a fancy place to stay in a rich neighborhood, and I had an old car, sitting there with my heart in my hand, in the rain. You just got out and went inside, like there was nothing to worry about.
I went off to the state hospital. When I came back, George Banks said you got the dosage right. OK, OK. So, now your dead. You’re in Hell. Are you happy? I don’t think so.