A Random Tuesday by Kelly Reising
A Random Tuesday That My Life Completely Changed With the Suicide of My Ex-Husband
April 3rd, 2023
I had all these dreams of how my life would be in the future. And they all involved Tim. Even though I left almost 5 years ago, it didn't really matter. It was just another silly break. We’d find our way back to each other. I had no doubt of it.
How do I reconcile the fact that he’s not in my life anymore? I feel shattered. Beyond shocked. Every fiber of my body is screaming out for him to come back. To go back in time. To say or do the thing, the one thing that will make him stay. If I had answered the phone on February 18th, would that have helped, mattered at all? Bought him more time?
I figured he’d call back. He always did. Plus, the text he left was breezy. “Just thinking about ya! Nothing going one, it’s just me.” You know me. And I did know him. But maybe I didn’t. After 16 years you would think you’d know a person well enough to predict if they were okay. He seemed okay. He wasn’t.
Because on March 28th. On a random Tuesday, he hanged himself.
I found out three days days later...from my mom.
The two times prior, many years ago that he thought about killing himself. Took a couple of surface swipes at his wrist with a box cutter. He called me when he was doing it. I was on the other end of the phone, racing home to stop him. Successfully. I called one of his best friends that night, who had some EMT training, since Tim didn’t want to go to the hospital for stitches. Man, there was a lot of blood. The Gentleman Jack he was drinking numbed all the pain. Probably because they weren’t serious attempts. This time was different. I just want to know what happened. There is just one person who knows what happened. All those details that led up to that night. It's his new wife, J. They have only been married a year because we had only been divorced since February 2021, via Zoom--which is really weird. Plus, I was a little tipsy that day, so I barely remember the Cleveland judge who presided over this ridiculous Zoom call.
We Meet at a Suburban Gathering
Picture this, just a regular Saturday night in a regular upper middle class suburb. Bored parents with young kids, just trying to drink away the regular monotony. It was me, my husband, the couple’s house we were at: Jason and Megan, and two other friends of theirs I didn’t know…George and his wife. Just three couples drinking away a weekend night, sipping cocktails, beer, and grilling out. No particular reason at all.
And in walked Tim.
He was a friend of George’s who was invited on a whim to stop by, since he was in the process of a divorce and was probably missing the neighborhood.
As soon as he walked in, I couldn't look away. It was like staring at the only person I wanted to talk to for the rest of my life.
I remember Tim being introduced to everyone vaguely, but thinking this was absolutely positively the most gorgeous man I had ever seen in my life. He lit up the backyard of this ordinary suburban get together. An otherwise boring Saturday. But he wasn’t, he was bright and shiny, bounding with energy and charm to the point that both my husband and my best friend’s husband were instantly wary. Jealous. Aware that someone with the face of a movie star, and the stature of a rock god had entered the vicinity. Tim had a way of taking over all the air in the room. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much.
As I watched him bounce around the party with all his spunk and energy, I thought to myself, this is the kind of guy I should be with. He was the best looking man I had ever seen in my life. Why can’t I have the captain of the football team instead of the theater geek I was married to?
The party went on, I’m not sure how I started talking to him, but honestly it was probably after my husband went home early because he was tired. How it just became us around a firepit, chatting about regular stuff. My hand touching his knee, clearly flirting. Him asking me about my work as a writer. Those intense brown eyes smiling at me. Me trying to understand the telecommunication stuff that he did. And at one point when Megan was just talking to Geoge and I was talking to Tim, my husband had already gone home and Megan’s husband was upstairs, it was oddly not quite a party anymore. We were just two people talking. I can’t remember if I wondered why this unbelievably attractive guy was even talking to me at all.
At some point, I took a break from Tim and my conversation. I went upstairs to check on Jason, my best friend’s husband. He was clearly jealous of the “new guy” at the party who had taken all the attention from me and his wife, Megan. I tried asking Jason what was wrong, got some pouty answer, and was about to go back downstairs. The next thing I know my friend Megan is charging upstairs into the bedroom, screaming about me being in there with her husband. Nothing was going on, and I wasn’t in the mood for their drama. Those two were Mr. and Mrs. Melodrama. I wasn’t having it that night.
I walked quickly down the stairs, just as Tim was heading towards the front door. The timing was perfect. I often think about how my life would have been if he hadn't been at the bottom of the stairs at that exact moment.
He looked at me, held out his hand, and said, “want to get outta here?” Yes. Yes, I do, So I followed him out, quickly resuming our conversation that we were having around the firepit. I had no idea I was opening the door for the next 16 years of my life.
We went for a walk. He wanted to show me where he used to live before he bought a bigger house in the neighborhood, and left his wife a few months prior. The funny thing was that his house was just a block away from my own, but I never saw him before that night.
He took me into the backyard to show me the landscaping he had done on the property when he owned it, even though it was pitch black at night, and I couldn’t see three feet in front of my face, I remember giggling nervously about being in this random backyard, but he said they knew who they sold it too, so it was fine.
Then I felt something shocking. I looked up at his face in the moonlight, and wanted to kiss him. It was the most natural thing in the world. Like I just had to do it. So I did. I put my arms up by his neck as he leaned down to kiss me. All those kisses you see in the movies were exactly like that. Perfect. Sparks. Fire. Oh my god.
As we pulled away, I said to him, “you have an apartment, right?” He threw back his head and laughed. Game on. When over the years we would talk about that night, it was always the most fun conversation. And we talked about it often. Lots of times on our anniversary. Tim loved to recount that first night June 10th, 2007. I could go on and on about the rest of the night, but I have to keep a few things private between us. Wink. Wink.
A Second Wife Isn’t Allowed to Grieve
I’m wedged between Tim’s first wife (the mother of his children), and his third wife. He remarried a year ago. The other “wives” were both at his funeral. At least that’s what a friend of ours told me. Their grief was fully on display for everyone to see, even though his parents refused to attend the wake. From what I heard, it was due to an argument over the details of the service. Open or closed casket. Catholic service or not. Cremation or burial. The usual stuff. But his new wife won, and his beautiful body was laid out in an open casket his mother didn’t want. Mom and Dad aren't speaking to her, or his first wife. It's a whole WWIII up in Cleveland with these ridiculous people.
You know how on obituary pages now they have places where friends and family can acknowledge and share a memory of the deceased? It’s a beautiful page. I must have checked it a thousand times to see who was sharing memories of our Timmy. It took me a little bit to figure out what I wanted to say, to say something coherent and meaningful about this man who I loved so much.
I posted on his obituary wall five days after I found out what he did. 8 days after he actually died. Here’s what I wrote with a picture of our family:
Tim and I were a family, along with our children, for 12 years. I am shattered. We all tried to take care of Tim and love him the best that we could. He adored his friends. The old AT&T gang truly meant the world to him. His heart belonged to his children…Patrick, Cameron, Juliana, Charlotte, M, and A. I was lucky to have a piece of his heart too. Even though we divorced in 2021, we still talked on the phone all the time.
To J, I’m so unbelievably sorry this happened. My heart is broken for you too.
I will love him forever.
Wife #3 took it down 12 hours after I posted it. I get it. They fought all the time about his continued love and friendship with me. And we talked all the time. For hours. I take some comfort in that. The night that I posted it, I was on the phone with my youngest daughter. She wanted to see what I had written about her former stepfather, a man she had known since she was 2-years-old.
It broke me a bit that my youngest daughter was so sad she took it down. She wasn’t sure where her grief belonged after being his ex-stepdaughter. But he never saw her that way, or my oldest daughter. He adored them. Loved them like his own boys. There was never any difference between our kids in this amazing blended family we were blessed to have in the 12 years we were together. They were his “Baby Ladies” as he called them. His daughters.
We always talked about how lucky we were that our kids loved each other so much. It was like that from the beginning. When we introduced them, Charlotte was 2, Cam and Juliana were 5, and Pat was 7. We used to joke that Cam and Juliana were our “twins,” even though they were just step siblings.
How to Go On?
I want to eulogize him in some way, since I know I’m not welcome at his memorial. My ex-in laws don’t speak to me. When we divorced, they cut off all contact. They also didn’t know that Tim and I still spoke all the time, and had an amazing friendship and enduring love. He called me his Babyangel, his Darling Perfect One.
Tim is the love of my life. Still is. I’m not speaking past tense on this. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
The people in his life are a wreck now. His dear cousins, his friends, his loves, me, our children, know deep down how impactful his presence was in all of our lives. He had the most fearsome love you could imagine. Tim never hated anyone. Ever. He could make friends with anyone he came across. Didn’t matter if it was a bar down the street, an Uber driver, or the man who ran the convenient store outside our apartment. I can’t even remember his name now, but Tim would. He remembered everything. He could name hundreds of people he grew up with in Bay with their first and last names. The streets they grew up on…countless stories. I used to marvel at that. The thing about Tim was that even if he didn’t like you at first, like if he had some trouble at work with a coworker butting heads, he would always come around to make that person his friend eventually.
Everyone was always included in “The Tim Show.”
Because he was the showrunner.
When we were out around Cleveland, people used to wonder if he was a former sports star or a country music singer. So traditionally tall, dark, and handsome, he stood out in any crowd. His wit, intellect, and ability to captivate a crowd with a story was pure magic. I was happy to stand beside him for as long as I could.
It has to be said that Tim had some darkness to his personality. He could be unbelievably cruel to those he loved most, when he was drinking. That part needs to be included in his history. I can’t gloss over that because it’s the reason I moved 1241 miles away after we separated. The sad fact is that I figured he’d follow me eventually.
Last year, he made his first attempt. The chance at a better life. The Cleveland weather, his shitty job as a lineman were all part of his unhappiness. He was always so impressed that I left Cleveland, regardless of why. He wanted to move south more than anything, was talking to telecom companies in the state that I live in. When we talked about it, he asked if we could live together. I think it was wishful thinking on his part because he never followed through with it. Our doors were always open to each other though.
I have memories that are endless and glorious. I did want more. I’m with someone now who has been my partner for over 4 years now. He was understanding enough when I told him that this completely changes my life. My boyfriend was understanding when Tim called all the time. My conflicted feelings about him.
The fact was, I was happy when Tim called me, telling me he loved the sound of my voice. Or texted, sending me rambling messages of funny things that were on his mind. The last text I got from him, a month ago, “Obviously, nothing important. It is me after all. Just thinkin’ ‘bout cha!”
I don’t know how to end talking about him. I could go on forever.
But I’ll just say that.