Three years, but feeling like three days
by Chris Bueter
(New York, NY)
That fateful day is seared into me like a fish on the frying pan. The day of Imma's suicide followed a particularly dramatic drinking binge. Checking in on her during her at home detox program, I found her motionless. I knew instantly this was different from her earlier comatose state. I called 911 and they walked me through the resuscitation process. ER got there in seemingly quick fashion and I had a grain of hope. But then they worked on her in bed for about 15 minutes and then in the truck for another 10 or so before saying there was nothing more they could do but would have to take her to the hospital. They would not answer my question as to weather she could survive, but I knew the answer.
I fell to the sidewalk screaming, crying and banging my forehead on the cement. That 10 minute ride to the hospital was the longest of my life. But the wait in the ER waiting room was ironically way too short. They called my name and took me into a small room, and only then did it really sink in what was happening. A doctor and social worker came in shortly after and told me what I had been hoping against hope I would not have to hear. She died February 3, 2009, 6 weeks short of her 29th birthday.
I met Imma at a time in my life when I thought I was destined to be in unsatisfactory relationships, maybe never knowing true love. I’d been in comfortable relationships in which I loved another but—and I know this sounds so trite—I never felt “in love.” Maybe I was just incapable of that sort of passionate relationship, I began to think.
Imma changed all that for me. Though we were years apart in age, we had an immediate attraction to each other. And we became friends for several months before there was any real physical intimacy. It was during this time I became aware she had a drinking problem.
For months following her death I would cry several times a day, often profusely. I found it so ironic, because Imma hated to see my cry and here she was the source of a thousand times as many tears as I had cried as a baby or throughout my life up until this awful tragedy. Yes, I found that the despondent periods dissipated. Three years later I could go a few weeks without crying. Although there are countless prompts in my daily life that remind me of her, several of which where I feel like crying, I say to myself “no! I have had enough of this and I need to move on.” So for sometime now I have forced myself to focus on other things when these times occur.
But these last few days I have broken down as often and as intensely as when Imma first passed. It’s been as if it’s all started again with a lot of pent-up grief. I realize now that the grieving period for me is still very alive and that, through certain actions and inactions, I have hindered the process from reaching a healthy conclusion. Because of anger and a fear of loneliness, I attempted to start new relationships far too early in the process, most of them destined for failure and pain from the start. For emotional and perceived financial reasons, I have not sought support from people who can appreciate what I have been going through. True or not true, I fear that friends no longer want to hear about this situation in my life. And my family, much as I love them, can only offer me so much in emotional support.
There is a woman I met within months of Imma’s death who was and continues to be there for me and who, unlike the others, I have not pressed for a physically intimate relationship even though there is definitely a mutual interest in this regard. I think that, at some level, I knew she is the kind of quality person I could start a new relationship with. But there is this innate, I think heretofore mostly unconscious, side of me that knew I was not really ready so I have selfishly held her in abeyance. But with the understanding I believe I have now about acknowledging I need help and letting this grieving process play-out, I hope I can find myself in a position someday soon to be ready and worthy of truly exploring a relationship with another woman. I long to be unburdened of the strain and stress this loss created in me.