Posted by Laura Allen McNeil on December 12, 2002 at 12:10:29:
Robert and I had been married for just over 5 years when I left him. I loved him, but I couldn't live with him - and he came to understand that.
One year, one month, and two days after I left, he put the barrel of a .270 deer rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
He was 9 1/2 years my senior, and he'd been friends with my Dad and my family since late 1990 - after my brother had gotten his sister pregnant. He and my Dad worked on computers together, and usually drank J.W. Dant's and coke while doing so.
Robert and I didn't start dating until I was 16 and most of the way through my junior year in high school. We had liked each other for a long while - which is evident in our style of flirting - picking on each other, teasing, and long silent looks.
We married a year after I graduated from high school (1995) on April 4, 1996, on the 6th anniversary of my paternal grandmother's death via cancer. The ceremony was small - both sets of parents, my brother, my best friend, and Harris County Judge Lawrence in his chambers. We all had breakfast at Denny's afterward (The Dixie Chicks ain't got nothin' on my 'White Trash Wedding' LTT).
Our relationship had ups and downs - like everybody's. In 1999, while he was out of work and I was doing very well with the company I worked for, I accepted a transfer to our Virginia office, near Washington, DC. We were okay, there. We had more problems because he had trouble finding work, and I put everything I had into a job that didn't treat me well. I took it out on him. In April of 2001, we were evicted from our apartment because we were unable to pay rent. We lived in a hotel for a month and a half. Then we convinced his parents to drive up, get us and our belongings, and "move" us back to Houston. This was Memorial Weekend. That Friday, my car was packed with what I could fit, and I left. I left notes for my parents, for him, and for his parents. After driving for a whole day, I ended up in Tennessee. I called my parents and told them that I made it fine and asked about Robert - he was incredibly hurt and upset. I gave them the number to the hotel to give to him. When he called back, he was angry, but even though he wouldn't admit to being hurt, I could hear it in his voice. I told him that I was doing what was best for both of us, that I thought he wasn't happy with me. I cried most of the drive that day, and cried more after hanging up the phone. I went back to Virginia and got my own place - that I could afford with my money. When he called me at work, I gave him my new home number and told him he could call me whenever he wanted to.
The first time he used the number, we had a civil conversation. The next time, he was more sincere when he told me that he understood why I left. I went to Houston over Christmas to be with my family. We hooked up three times (I *do* mean *hooked up*). We had dinner together, slept together, and spent meaningful time together. The last night I was in town was his 34th birthday. We had coffee at Denny's and got a motel room. When I left to come back to VA, I cried because I was leaving all over again.
We talked about once a month after that. In April 2002, we had a heartfelt conversation. We cried on the phone together. We talked about me coming home around September and that we'd go to a few Astros games, that we'd go to the Texans season opener, go to Astroworld - you know, have fun together like when we were dating.
He called me on June 5th, to wish me Happy Birthday two days early. I was at lunch with the plant manager and one of my bosses. I don't remember if I was short with him or not, but I tend to think that I was - mostly because at Zig's during lunchtime, you can't hear much on a cell phone. In another conversation, when he called late when I was already in bed, he told me that his sister Christine has invited both of us out to Arizona to spend a month with them. It was then that he told her we'd split up. I don't remember if I told him I loved him that night.
July 3rd, I got the call from his cousin Gina. She said that she went into his wallet to find my number and if I remembered her. Of course I did, hard to forget a piece of work like her. She said she had bad news, that Robert had shot himself. She didn't give me details - I found out later the where and the how. I started screaming for my roommate Randy (her brother), and I ran into the living room to hand him my phone. Gabriel (my boyfriend, then of only 7 days) followed me in. I gave Randy the phone, and turned to see Gabriel and Randy's wife, Toni, standing there asking what was wrong. I told them what Gina had told me, that Robert had killed himself, and I doubled over crying. I couldn't take it. A few minutes later, after calming down a bit and getting some fresh air on the balcony when I realized I had to call my Dad. I dialed his number and when he answered I was crying again. I asked if anybody had called him. No. I told him, and I heard his heart breaking over the phone. He kept saying "No, pumpkin, don't tell me that. You need to come home." There's pain I can take, but the hurt of hearing my Dad crying on the phone is something I don't know if I'll ever get past.
Days go by without so much as a tear, then I'll break down crying again when I hear a song on the radio about any sort of loss.
I was forced to quit the job that moved me to the DC area in September. I now work for a property management company.
When I heard The Dixie Chicks'cover of "Landslide," I came to several realizations. "We'll I've been afraid of changing, 'cause I built my life around you." I built my life around my last job. I lived for the job, not my family.
Then "I took my love and I took it down I climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills Well the landslide brought me down.Oh, mirror in the sky What is love Can the child within my heart rise above Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides Can I handle the seasons of my life?"
The landslide that brought me down was losing my husband of six years.
Candlebox's "Far Behind" strikes hard - "I didn't mean to treat you bad, but you left me far behind."
Creed's "One Last Breath" - "Maybe six feet ain't so far down." Really? 1400 miles I can cover, but those last six feet are too far.
I miss him terribly right now. I don't really know what to do when his birthday comes in 15 days.
Gabriel has been incredible - every time I need him, he's there.
I still feel like I have mourning to do, but I'm not sure how to go about it.
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