Sunday, October 20, 2002

Tonight, I related with Tony Soprano.

It was unexpected, as Tony Soprano is a mob boss. However, I related to him in tonight's episode of The Sopranos called, "Everybody Hurts" when he learns that an estranged ex-fling of his committed suicide. This was a woman who had many problems before he met her, but he was one of the last people she was intimate with. The relationship had ended badly, as happens most of the time when a woman decides to see a married man, this one probably worse than most. Upon learning the news, Tony, despite his "no problem" attitude when it comes to killing those who turn on him or step on his toes, was hit very hard by the news of this woman hanging herself.

Why? Because suicide is one of hardest things on those who are left behind, whether you are a mob boss or a Girl Scout leader. I went through being "left behind" almost two years ago when Rob killed himself. Watching Tony deal with this, searching for answers that he wasn't going to find, hit home with me. You wonder if you're a good person, and like Tony, search for answers by visiting places that they worked or lived. You are left with so many unanswered questions and regardless of the circumstances you feel responsible for letting it happen.

It was hard to watch a saddened Tony try to process this. He's a tough mob boss. A big guy who walks around with a cowboy swagger in a leather jacket and black turtleneck. On a daily basis he works with the worst of humanity and on many occasions is the worst of humanity. But like me, he was saddened, angered, humbled, and confused by this woman's action. Her suicide tore through his armor and left him at a loss. I knew how he felt.

And that made me sad.

I'm still sad, as watching him made me remember what I went through. First, you can't believe it so you need some sort of proof. In my case, it was going to the funeral. I'll never forget driving up to my dad's house and seeing that castle, like Tony Soprano, humbled as if a piece had been torn out of it. And it had. Rob had taken his life in the garage. The house had witnessed it but even in its splendor could do nothing. It was still just a house. It couldn't reach out and turn off the car or call the police. It couldn't open the garage doors without the help of a human being. So it stood, paralyzed, and watched as someone it had grown to love took his life in its arms. The night I arrived, when my sister and I pulled into the driveway after she picked me up from the airport, the house looked shaken.

Before the funeral, Joan and I went through his stuff in his room. I went through his CD's, tapes, clothes, books, and photographs. I peeked into the journal I'd given him for Christmas that had been untouched. I went onto Marie's computer and looked at the last visited Web pages and at all the cookies for any kind of clue. Nothing that hinted at anything out of the ordinary. I searched through his bathroom and saw his antidepressants still in the bottles. Useless now, like the house, unable to prevent Rob from suicide. He wasn't reliable when it came to taking his medication and was an excellent liar when it came to covering that up. I wanted to find a message or explanation, or some clue of how much pain he was in. Mostly, I wanted him to tell me that there was nothing that I could have done, and that it wasn't my fault.

Despite my search for answers, until the funeral I had avoided the garage. I avoided walking past the door and when my dad wanted to hang up my coat on the hooks by the garage door, I told him that I'd take it upstairs. Ironically, the night before the funeral we watched the premiere episode of The Sopranos second season in Rob's honor and the episode had a big funeral for Tony's mother. The night before Rob had taken his life, we had chatted via Instant Message how much we were looking forward to the premiere. In my wildest dreams I never thought that I'd be watching it under those circumstances. When it came on, I turned a framed picture of Rob towards the television so he could watch with us, if even only in spirit.

During tonight's episode, every time that I watched Tony processing this woman's death, I wiped away tears, trying not to let my mom see that I was crying. I wasn't expecting to get hit that hard, but deep wounds may be easy to hide, burrowed away that they are, but not that hard to reopen. So many times, I wonder if Rob is watching me as I work at Barnes and Noble or drive in my car, or when I'm hunched over my journal in a coffee shop or taking a shower.

Maybe he was watching tonight, and saw how much his actions still hurt me.

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