« When Do You Leave The Flawed Lover—Or Hold On? | Main | Intersectionality »

Suicide Note Number 28: You Should Have Been There

Suicide Note Number 28: You Should Have Been There

This is not a Dear John Letter. This is a love letter. A love letter to you—or to me—I’m not sure, won’t be sure until the writing is done, until the process has exhausted itself, until the book has been written and on the shelf. The process has not always been the same, will not always be the same. I didn’t understand change until the last sentence presented itself. The future is not found through consistency.

To write is a process, a journey; to live is the same. The process for one poem, one story, one book is never the same. Change is the only truth. Process depends on overall character. Depends on the heart of the book, the blood flowing.

To end a relationship is a process. What worked for the last ending, won’t work for the next one, for this one. Won’t work to end our relationship. Our hearts and blood are thick and thin and tired. The process of who we are goes back several generations. We are connected in ways we will never talk about, not connected in ways we say we are.

Our relationship, like plastic, won’t disintegrate. It is possible to light a match, to set fire, to melt, to liquefy. It is not possible to write the last chapter. It is not possible to disappear. This chapter I am writing is the first, another first chapter, another beginning. There are no endings. We will gain composure, solidify, contaminate.

I need a new process.

I need to mix glass with stone with sweat. I need to break down, to sever, to turn to salt, to slice, to mash, to grind, to speak, to sing, to sway, to leap. I need to set aside stale processes (ustable again, maybe, recycled, maybe), but unworthy of this journey, this cycle, this new beginning. Now, yellow brick roads, poppies, tin men, straw men, and cowardly lions won’t lead me away and towards. I need a new list, a set of rules, funky aphorisms. I need jasmine and eucalyptus. I need solitude, silence. I need jazz.

I need a photo. A self-portrait of the person I want to become; the person I already am. I need a photo of me locked in a frame that breathes, that flows, that fluctuates, yet remains stable. I will throw away splintered frames with cracked glass, fading photos. I can condense, simplify, and adjust to one photo, one me.

You are not in this photo. And, you are not stored in a closet in a cardboard box. You will never be recycled, again.

You should have been there last winter when I grabbed a young man on the street who merely said hello. I was hungry and ate and sipped a glass of red wine.

You should have been there this spring when my prayers weren’t enough to plant hofstas in a garden overrun with the death of last year’s perennials. I dug into my coin purse, nails broken and dirty, for stability, to know next year there would be continuity, there would be lasting beauty.

You should have been there this summer when the heat and humidity rendered me naked on purple sheets, my sweat sensuous, my bed tossing.

You should have been here this fall when leaves turned without you, when I traveled to New Orleans and trumpets blared.
This is about lonely; this is about love.

This is about driving to the woods for a fix of your skin, for conversation, for definition. Desperation.

This is about a five-mile radius you live in; I live far away with no amenities except diversity, which is oxygen, not a well with soft water.

This is about painting ceilings, fixing cars, watching movies, riding bikes, and eating Sushi; about things lost.

This is about family and dogs and neighbors; about exclusion.

This is about history, about Scotch, about coffee, about sex, about cigarettes, about the future, about nursing homes.

This is about ministers and priests about fantasies and horrors; what we desire, what we despise; about velvet trousers, about heavily starched shirts.

This is about the sting of what I thought I could never have, the bite of knowing it still doesn’t fit; the ache of pretend.

This is about not being mean. It’s about metaphor. It’s about getting at truth without spitting. It’s about a new way of writing; a new way of living. It’s not about story; it’s about understanding story. It’s about kindness. It’s about love that comes to the surface then descends, then comes to the surface, then descends. It’s about what gets in the way of love. It’s about goodbye. It’s about hello. It’s about the lost art of letter writing. It’s about not knowing how to end, but being ready for the next beginning.

It is not about anger. Not this time.

Sherry Quan Lee, Copyright, Excerpts from How to Write a Suicide Note: Serial Essays that Saved A Woman's Life


I was researching women of color writers to try and save MY life and found your site.

The first moments were heartbreaking. I don't know why. I think because it was so beautiful and my need beauty is so deep right now.

I experience your words as large hands squeezing my heart.

Thank you for this, everything.