I can’t help it. I’ve been compulsively reading about the suicide of Mary Kennedy. I follow the family’s sad story as if I might find an answer to my own. Disconcertingly similar: addiction, depression, debt, imminent divorce, hanging. I imagine terrible details again. I picture her tying knots in a rope and wonder if she always knew how to do that? N sometimes showed off his fancy rope tying skills. Should I have seen that as a warning?
Grocery shopping this morning, I paused at the newspapers to read the front page of the New York Post, of course featuring photos of anguish and heartbreaking details. My cart full of fresh corn and strawberries, bread and yogurt, I read. Then, pushed my food through the checkout in a gutted daze. I feel it all again. The despair. I recognize Robert’s face — the last possibility of hope, now gone. The eruption of accumulated grief. Years of grief. Not the shock of sudden death, nor the exhaustion of death after cancer. I see a look of pain from a long-festering, ugly, terribly sad wound, exploding. His children, masks of control perhaps learned, like Molly, after living with what craziness?
And the wrath of her family. They blame him. I know about that too. One of N’s sisters phoned me a few months after his death. It was a summer day. I took the call outside. I could tell from her tone that she was not calling to find out how Molly and I were doing. “You as good as put the noose around his neck,” she said.
From England, she knew nothing of our life together. Nothing about the years of anxiety and despair. Nothing of the years I pleaded with him, bullied him, tried any possible way into recovery, begged him to reclaim his life, us. Our love, his home, all his — if only he could free himself from the cocaine, literally driving him insane. None of this, we – were not enough. She did not know what our lives were like in this little house in Connecticut. She’d lost her handsome, loving, big brother. That’s what she knew.
I forgive her for saying such a hideous thing to me. Only N’s two older daughters in England — who, like their little sister Molly, bear scars of broken promises and missed love, remain in my life. Having lived with him, we know. We are veterans of the same battle, our injuries invisible and mostly, unspoken.