I found myself standing on the purple and pink stool my daughter uses to wash her hands in the bathroom sink.
I knew I would need a stool this time, it needed to be higher than last time.
I also knew I needed to use a belt that would close tight with my weight, and be difficult to open, even without weight against it. Things were too easy last time.
I spent about 25 minutes just standing there with everything in place.
I wasn’t emotional at all.
I wasn’t even really very sad.
The view from the doorway to my bathroom opens up to almost my entire house. I studied it. I thought about how I came to the point in my life where this was my home. I wondered about what would happen to it after this.
My wife would find me here. I thought about how haunted this doorway, and the view it provides, would become for her.
I wondered how long until my daughter understood, and then how long until she forgot.
That’s when I started to get emotional.
I pulled out my phone and opened it up to my favorite current picture of me and her.
I just held it about a foot from my eyes and wept.
This is it.
I put my phone in my pocket with that image still lighting up the screen.
I looked out the front window and saw my neighbor on a walk with the kids. A neighbor I know well, kids I do too. I wondered if I was seen, standing on this stool in this doorway.
But I wasn’t.
I considered running outside and begging for help.
But I didn’t.
I knew in the deepest parts of me that everything would be ok afterwards. I still know this is what’s best for my family.
A father’s job is to do what is best, no matter how difficult, isn’t it?
I stared out the window, focused on what needed to be done, and then kicked the stool out from under my feet.
I miscalculated everything.
There was too much length in the belt, the stool was too short.
I was able to push my toes into the floor and open the door behind me. The intense pain of this is difficult to imagine. It only takes about 25 seconds to lose consciousness, but each second feels like an hour.
I immediately grabbed the taller stool.
I made the belt tight as I fit it into the door jamb, and I locked the bathroom door.
I opened my phone back up and stared at the photo of my daughter.
We were at the zoo, standing on a fence looking at both the giraffes and zebras.
It was the best part of what would become a pretty awful day. She hadn’t turned into a terrible listener, and I hadn’t yet become a monster. But both of those things were inside us.
I lost all my energy then.
The tears that flowed from me resembled the sort of booming and ominous summer storms that scare you awake and force you to close the windows.
I released the belt. Got down and placed it on the stool. I unlocked the bathroom door and grabbed a tissue.
I really don’t know what happened for the next hour or so. I didn’t sleep, as I have in the past. But I wasn’t really awake either.
The thoughts didn’t leave me that day, and the next day I found myself in a similar headspace.
The view from the height of that stool is still haunting me, but it appears to be beckoning me as well.