3:01 AM

Where the hell do I start? Bless me father, it has been nearly a year since I've written in this column. And I am not quite fucked up enough to write what I have to write. Censor censor. Shit. 9/15/03, Mexican Independence Day, my daughter tried to kill herself. My Charlotte. My dear darling daughter. Saw a bottle of Zantac, looked it up on the internet, read that alcohol mixed badly with it, found some vodka, drank it, swallowed some pills, wrote a note.
Luckily, her mother found her slumped over her (the mother's) desk when she came home from work.
I was in between classes at Mt. Sierra, some 26 miles away. In the stall where some creature has written "fuck your mama right." I was sitting there on a monday night, relaxing between classes. My final week. I checked in at home, and there were three messages in a row. From Tracy. "Come over to the house now. Come to Midway Hospital. Call me on Char's cell, she is at Midway Hospital. She apparently tried to kill herself with vodka and zantac."
I staggered into the class where my 9:00 class students were. They were on some sort of break. I managed to say that they needed to turn in their final projects. And then I left. Unable to breathe. I stopped at the front doors of the school and called Tracy. Charlotte was awake, in the hospital. I needed to bring her insurance card, her wallet... There's always paper work.
There's also too much to tell in one fell swoop here. This is a week and half later, and I am just starting to sink into this. Not it into me, but me, sinking.

Okay. You want to know. She seems to be okay. She's going to a teen suicide counselor. She likes him. I like him. Tracy likes him. Charlotte seems okay. But she has been living with me for the last nine months or so, and she seemed okay all that time, too. So, what do I know? Not much. And yet, a shitload.

At the moment, I am stressed out, tired, blown out, wiped out. things have changed forever. I'm still not loose enough to write this. I have too much shit to do to totally blow away. This was supposed to be my hearts weekend. But not this year. A readjustment has stopped that.

Why didn't I see it coming?

I don't know. I really don't know. Here she is, ready to start fire fighting training. Setting up her ambulance service. She puts in six months as an EMT on an ambulance and the fire department pays for the next round of classes. Only now that and everything else are up in the air.

I have a hard time being away from her. Monday I had a faculty meeting all day. I checked in at one point and at the end of the call, she said very plainly and clearly, "I love you, Dad." Not a sentiment she usually lets out. I panicked. Why did she say that? Why did she say that? What did that mean? But I didn't call her back. Instead, I sat through deadly dull chitchat. Wandered the halls. On fall break from classes, but condemned to a day of bullshit. I just wanted to leave. Instead, I was asked to speak. Not the best choice. I had been at a (forced) weekend workshop and was asked about my response to it. I rambled and flailed and then got out. I had a meeting to go to. Introducing students to a business guy. He needed photographers. In the meeting, my phone vibrated in my pocket. 3:48. 12 minutes before Char's scheduled meeting with the shrink. I couldn't answer. What happened? What was going on? Where was she? Did she panic and decide not to go? Was there an accident? Was she okay? I wrapped up the meeting (and missed all of the specs for the upcoming shoot). I called her back immediately outside the door. She said she wanted to watch X-Men 2. Could we go see it? Or rent it?

She wants to be Wolverine. That's the new thing. wolverine. She likes the claws. The power. The claws. I don't care. I want her alive. She can be anything she wants. Ballet dancer, poet, firefighter, pissed off, disgruntled, angry twenty-something, anything, any fucking thing. just alive. that's all i want. i want to know she is going to be there when i get back. i want to know she is out there, or in there, or somewhere. wolverine, spiderman, batman, little orphan annie. i don't care. i don't. i just want her here. alive.
shit. we've all felt like this. me anyway, i just, i've been there. in my youth with an open boy scout knife in my bed, hoping to roll over on it. in my late twenties, lining up a row of beers to chug. like shots. like cups of poison, like some sort of relief. and mornings when i wake up and have to trinity myself "get up jim, get up" and then i do. all of those nights. but now the answer comes. now it comes. the good. what is the point? what is the good. and it ain't jesus and it's not sitcoms or drugs or shit, it's people. she keeps me going. her existance keeps me going and if she goes, where do i go? where? what am i without her? sounds like a loser with no self esteem, but i raised this kid and she is part of me and she is my light and my love and if she goes, then i go. she can't go. the rock is a little unstable. the ground she jumps from will crumble.
and this is all so dramatic. and whatever, but i know. i know. i have been there. to the edge. peering over. but she can't give up. there are things ahead. there is so much ahead. so much good and bad. so much. people. the relationships. children. children. i sound like some hallmark bs. but i'm not.

why didn't i see it coming?

i always thought the worst thing i'd ever have to say was "my father died." but i was wrong. "my daughter tried to kill herself" is worse. and i know it could have been worse.

sorry mom. i'm counting on you living forever.
did you miss something?

sob - the beginning

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