October 31, 2005
I spent some time today transferring most of the postings Michele had made to her site to the new format. Rereading some of her thoughts was painful at times, satisfying at others. One of the things that happens when someone you love suicides is that you begin to question every thing you believed about that person. This variation on the “what if” game is just as destructive and difficult to manage.
Michele and I prided ourselves on having an open and honest relationship, and I still believe that we were as open and as honest as any two people could be, but now that she is gone, and I review our time together I have begun to question myself. I have begun to doubt what I know, or what I don’t know about her.
My wife was intensely private about many things in her life. I learned early on in our relationship that she was fully capable of hiding her true feelings or thoughts, particularly if she felt exposing them would be dangerous to her. Growing up in a household filled with violence and abuse taught her some painful lessons about protecting herself. I never once felt like she was maliciously keeping information from me, but I was aware that she managed the information she shared. Not that it wasn’t shared, more when it was shared and how.
For example, she rarely talked about her mother in the months after Virginia died. I know that she thought about her mom and their relationship a great deal. There were times when she would talk about certain aspects of her grief, but it was largely an inner process. Much of my work is inner as well, so I recognize and accept that mode of processing. Again and again in our relationship Michele would sacrifice herself to prevent me from being hurt. I know that she only metered information about her thoughts and feelings to ease the burden on me.
Still, in the final analysis I find myself wondering what she was thinking and not sharing in the final days of her life.