She went to the bridge that night to kill herself. That’s what she said, anyway. All I know is that I believed her.
It was a year ago tonight when I got a text message. She told me that she was on a bridge and was ready to die. She had threatened repeatedly to kill herself during the two years prior to this, and there had been several times when I’d been truly afraid. There were times I talked with her most of the way through the night — on the phone from almost a thousand miles away — just trying to keep her alive until morning would arrive and the suicidal demons of depression would slip away from her. At least until it was dark again.
I loved her. We had a long and complicated history. That part doesn’t matter anymore. But I loved her more than life itself — and I do love my life very dearly. I loved her even more.
She told me in her text message that as she stood there thinking about what she was about to do, I was the only one she wondered about. She was worried about how I would take it. She worried about whether it would affect a film I was working on at the time. She said it surprised her that I was the only one she thought about. She had no reason to lie, so I believed her.
After texting for a few minutes, I asked her if she would talk on the phone. She didn’t reply for a minute, but then my phone rang.
There had been nights when she had been hysterical with emotional pain. Tonight, she was numb and calm. She just wanted to die. She hated life and the pain that came with it.
We hadn’t talked in months. Despite the odd and painful circumstances, I was happy to hear her voice. It made me feel as though I could almost touch her. I wanted to hold her hand. I wanted to tell her that everything would be all right if she would just believe me and let me help her.
Until about six months before that point, we had been talking on the phone almost every single day, most days for hours at a time, spread across half a dozen phone calls. She would call me if she had five minutes in the car between stops. She would call if she had a break in work. She would call when she needed help.
And then there were the times at night when she would call sobbing and in pain. She was surrounded by people, but she was all alone inside. She said over and over that I was the only person who had ever understood her or who ever would. I believed her. I still do.
But on this night, she was calm. We just talked like two people who had intimately known each other for years and years — which is exactly what we were.
It was just before midnight when she called. I soon realized that I’d left the cable to charge my iPhone at someone else’s house, so I drove over there at about 1:30 a.m. to get it. (Nobody was at the house where I’d left the cable, and I had a key.)
We talked about the film I wanted to make. I told her about the problems I was having with it. She gave me advice. I had wanted her to help me make films and she had wanted that, too. I might have very good ideas at times, but she was a mastermind of execution. I needed a producer I could trust. So we talked about the issues I was having and how I might deal with them.
We talked for hours. It’s crazy to love a woman that much when she’s standing there planning to kill herself, isn’t it? But I loved her. Maybe I was crazy. I’m not sure.
We talked for hours. At some point, I knew she had driven away from the bridge. We didn’t speak of suicide anymore that night.
I didn’t try to talk her out of suicide. I didn’t try to tell her she had great things to live for. I just loved her and shared my life with her for those hours. That was enough for her to decide to live at least one more day.
She finally got home and said she was going to be OK for the night. She needed to go to sleep so she could get up the next morning and pretend to be happy and normal — to put on her mask for the world.
It was just one year ago, but it seems like much longer. I can still hear her voice, but it’s very distant. I doubt she even remembers what we said. She tried her best to forget about me except when she needed me. The story is long and complicated.
That conversation is just an echo now. But on a night like this, it rolls around in my head and it causes memory to play tricks on my feelings.
I loved her. I really did. I’ll probably never see her or talk to her again, but my world is still better knowing she’s still living on this earth.