When Jake was just 20 years old, he was the proud father of a son, Jeremiah. For three glorious months, his girlfriend Tammy and he had been living the dream. Tammy had gotten pregnant accidentally, but they were living together, working and would try their hardest to make a life together. They were in love, neither wanted to get married yet. But then life struck, hard. Tammy was killed in a car accident. Jake wanted to die. He was devastated for the first time in his life, and probably never again would he feel this kind of pain.
He couldn’t afford the apartment anymore, and moved in with his Dad and step-mom, so they could help watch Jeremiah when Jake was at work. They were more than happy to; but this meant Jake had to have a night job, and then had to take care of Jeremiah during the day. This left him only about 4 hours sleep a day, and was beginning to wear him out. Sometimes he slept through the entire weekend, and his Dad would spend the weekend spoiling his first grandson. But, he was surviving.
His evil step-mother had suggested first abortion, and then later, adoption, which led Jake to believe she was truly a witch. But his Dad couldn’t be happier, him and Jeremiah were so close, most of the time Jeremiah would scream until PawPaw took him. Jake thought Jeremiah could sense his fears, and sadness sometimes, and he tried to be upbeat and play with him, rock him, read him stories, all the things a good Dad would do, but Jeremiah still preferred PawPaw in most instances.
Jeremiah was just six months old the morning Jake came home after rear ending a lady in town. An old woman had pulled into the middle of both lanes of traffic and came to a complete stop in traffic that was cruising along at 45 mph. Six cars rear ended each other, while the confused old woman finally figured out which direction she needed to take and left. Luckily the lady Jake hit only damaged his truck, and did nothing to the hitch on her bumper that went through his grill. He thanked God it didn’t damage his radiator or anything important, but still it bummed him out. He would have to replace the grill and rig one of the lights so it wouldn’t fall out, and replace the trim. The lady was so nice she didn’t even mention him in her report to the cops, and told him to leave, since he didn’t damage her car. At least he wouldn’t have to pay a ticket, too.
He walked in the house, it was quiet. His step-mom was sleeping in the recliner with the morning paper in her lap. He didn’t want to wake her, because he didn’t want to have to talk to her, so he snuck by and went to get a shower. He looked at Jeremiah sleeping, the one time he was a complete Angel, and tiptoed back out of the room. Then jumped in the shower. His disappointment hunched his 6′ frame into a ‘c’ shape. He let the water fall along with his tears, letting out a depression that threatened to take over. He finally sat down in the tub, and let the grief and pain and anger wash away. The water finally began to get cold, so he stood back up and turned it off and got out. His face was not his own, as he looked in the mirror. Dark circles around his eyes, a giant crease like an exclamation point between his brows, and his frown sectioning off his chin.
He stared at himself and thought, I don’t think I can do this God. It’s killing me. I don’t sleep, I can’t do this without Tammy. It’s just too fucking much! Dad would be crushed if I gave Jeremiah up for adoption now. It would break his heart. God, help me, but I just can’t do it anymore.
He dried off, threw on a towel and head to his room, quietly dressing in his sweats and t-shirt. He quietly lay down, hoping desperately for a few hours sleep. His step-mom had fed Jeremiah his bottle at 6, so he was hoping to get a nap until about 9 or maybe 10. He still felt like crying, but berated himself for being such a sissy instead.
It was a long day, and at 9 p.m. he was finally able to get another nap, before leaving for work at 10:30. His Dad woke him back up, so he wouldn’t wake the baby with an alarm clock, and he stumbled off to work.
Another long day stocking food at the grocery store down town, and he left more tired and depressed than when he had arrived. He didn’t bother with a shower, just fell into bed and fell asleep before he finishing praying that God would please let him sleep.
He woke up before Jeremiah, why he didn’t know, but he got up anyway to go relieve himself. Then he sat in the rocking chair in the living room, just swaying back and forth, knowing Jeremiah would wake up any time now; no reason to go back to bed. He watched the birds through the sliding glass doors that led to the back deck. There were 10 different bird feeders out there, that attracted hundreds of birds each day. Mostly hummingbirds that he liked the most. If he sat outside very still for about 10 minutes, the hummingbirds would come back, darting around him, still feeding. Then he would slowly raise his arm, with his finger pointed out right below one of the feeders, and the birds would perch on his finger to feed. It made him smile, their tiny little claw’s holding on, sometimes they would walk his finger a bit, too. Walk to the end of his hand and sit on his knuckle and stare him in the eye. Then they’d just go back and eat some more. It was cool.
Today, he just rocked, and thought, God, I’m done. I’m so sorry. I can’t do this. I hate life. There is no life without Tammy. And my Dad would adopt Jeremiah immediately, and raise him. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. I just want to be with … Tammy again. I love Jeremiah, but he’s better off without me. Really, God, he loves my Dad more, and my Dad would take great care of him. I just can’t.
He had no idea why he felt so utterly devastated, not knowing what sleep deprivation really is. He had no idea his brain was starved for sleep that he had done without for months on end, and was not thinking straight. Instead he was going on only the obligation and determination to keep getting up each day and move. His brain was shutting down, he was crushed inside, and the two together were pushing him towards the cliff.
He put his hands together, and prayed, “God please take care of Jeremiah. I know you will, but I just had to ask. Be with my Dad, he’s gonna be seriously pissed and… sad. But I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. Thank you for everything, and forgive me for what I’m about to do.”
He got up and went into the bathroom, and in his crazed mind, took an entire bottle of Advil. He thought, Hey, no pain, no gain! Ha!
It took a few minutes to wash them all down, but the bottle said it had 200 tablets, minus a few that had been used already, but he still figured this should be enough. Then he walked back out into the living room and sat down to wait.
He hoped it wouldn’t take long for his kidneys to shut down, and hoped the Advil kept the pain from being too bad.
Jake sat there, reminiscing about the few great times he had with Tammy and the baby, when they first brought him home. They had fought over who got up to get him, all the time, but it was because they both wanted to do it. They would sit for hours just watching him, and talking about their future. They were fascinated by all the things he was learning, that they didn’t know they were teaching him. He had started saying Ma Ma at 3 months, like two days before Tammy died. She was so freaking happy that day. She had called him screaming and crying, and so blatantly happy she couldn’t stop either. He was so glad she had that day.
It hadn’t really bothered him much that Jeremia didn’t call him Da Da, and had instead learned to say PawPaw. He knew it was because they were together so much, and because his Dad constantly bombarded him with it, until he did, and he was glad now for that.
Nothing was happening physically to him, which surprised him a bit as he got a cup of coffee from the morning pot and sat back down to rock.
He was almost done with his coffee when Jeremiah began making noises that he was awake. Jake could hear him rolling around, banging the bed rails, and squeaking his stuffed rabbit. Jake got up to get another cup of coffee, and nuked a bottle of formula. Then took both back and sat down to wait a few, enjoying his last cup of coffee, he thought. He sat there thinking about the friends he would miss, and the ones who would make fun of him committing suicide. He knew a few would, call him a quitter, but he didn’t care. He thought more about the hope of seeing Tammy again, and maybe his Mom. Both were there, watching over him, but he had no idea they were. He wondered if committing suicide would actually stop him from getting into Heaven, because he knew the commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill, was a pretty serious one. He also believed it applied to oneself. But, it didn’t stop him. He hoped he would see Tammy, but he didn’t care enough at this point about his soul. He was just so tired. So very fucking tired.
Jeremiah started winding up, so he set down his cup and got up to go get him. He picked him up, smiling hugely, and Jeremiah smiled back. Jake had been rocking him while feeding him his bottle, when the bottle tipped out of his mouth, and Jeremiah looked up at his Daddy and said, “Da Da.” for the first time. Jeremia smiled and said,
“Yes, I’m Da Da.” Jeremiah answered back,
“Da Da Da Da Da,” and giggled.
Jake started to cry. The tears rolled down his face without him making a sound, he just couldn’t stop them. He thought, Oh, dear God, what have I done? Now… NOW he calls me Dad.
Jake picked him up, to burp him, and as he patted him on the back, it occurred to him that little Jeremiah would grow up without either of his parents. How horrible would that be? He knew, he had grown up without his own mother, and it had been very hard. But to grow up without either parent, seemed just incredibly mean and selfish to him. He began to berate himself again, for not being the person he thought he should be. But it was too late. He had already taken the pills.
His heart was weeping, he so longed for Tammy, yet a part of him was for the first time ever seeing life through his son’s eyes. How can I do that to my own son? How can I leave him in this harsh hard ass world, without either parent. And with the witch taking over, to boot. God, what a jerk. I’m an asshole. I can’t do that to him. I CAN’T!
It finally occurred to him to ask God for help. He didn’t really think it would help, he didn’t have a whole lot of faith. But he had been raised going to church and he thought God always said he’d forgive and love us no matter what we did. So he prayed.
“Lord, first off, forgive me. I’m a wuss. I’m worn out, I miss Tammy so fucking much, but I shouldn’t have taken those pills. Now Jeremiah will have no one, but my Dad. He will grow up thinking I was a wuss, and left him to be alone. Please God, I will try harder to be a better Dad, I will give it my all, if you don’t let me O.D. I’m so sorry, I can’t think straight, I’m so tired. So, please just forgive me, and let this all be over. Amen.”
Jeremiah burped finally, so he put him on his lap, sitting up, and facing the windows so he could watch the birds. He squealed every time one hovered in front of the windows, and this would keep him happy for at least 10 minutes. Then its diaper time, and maybe a walk in the stroller.
He didn’t have to go to work that night, they were doing inventory, so he played with his son until his nap time and took a nap too, lying on the living room floor on blankets, his arm draped over his son. When his Dad came home from work later that day, they were playing with blocks, building a future, and Jake was just fine.