Last night I went to the movies with some friends to see the new Ridley Scott film, The Martian. It was awesome, really clever, enough suspense to make it exciting and interesting without freaking me out too much, with plenty of feel-good moments.
Going to see a movie was something Dan and I did very often, sometimes two or three times a month. After he died it took a long time for me to enjoy it again because the whole experience without being able to snuggle under his strong arm and rest my head on his shoulders just felt so wrong and hit me square in that big, gaping, aching hole in my heart.
I still find it difficult sometimes, either because I know he’d had loved the movie, or I find myself wishing I could get his opinion on something, or there’s an unexpected trigger that makes me think of his death or, in particular, the way he died so tragically from depression.
Watching Matt Damon in The Martian last night, I found it really affected me seeing how desperately his character fought to stay alive in such dire circumstances.
Without giving too much of the plot away, basically he was one of six astronauts on a mission to retrieve soil samples from Mars when a storm struck suddenly and the crew had to abort the mission and leave in a hurry. He get’s hurt in the storm and, believing him to be dead, the others take off without him. Of course, he isn’t dead and starts working out a plan to stay alive with limited rations until NASA can get back there and collect him.
There are moments where you can see him struck with the reality that the odds of surviving are almost too slight to call. He’s alone, totally cut off from humanity, facing the most hopeless of situations. However he rallies. Some primal urge to live, from deep within, refuses to give up and he continues to find ways to overcome the challenges he faces.
Watching him refuse to die, I couldn’t help think about Dan. I will never know exactly what he was facing with his depression. I will never really know how long and how hard he fought to live because I wasn’t even aware he had depression until he was diagnosed four weeks before his suicide.
In hindsight, his family and I can identify signs that he wasn’t well that were hard to understand at the time, because he was keeping the severity of his illness to himself. We understand now that he had depression for years, but even Dan himself might not have even really known the extent of what he was dealing with. I feel like he died so very quickly, before I even really had the chance to help him fight, but in reality, I suspect that his depression was actually a long and exhausting battle.
Watching The Martian, I couldn’t help wishing that Dan had fought harder. How can this man, stuck on another, inhabitable planet be so determined not to die, and then my beautiful husband take his life when he had so much to live for? Of course, it’s not that simple and I don’t mean to sound like I’m trivialising it… but that’s the thing about suicide. Despite all my research, understanding and education about mental illness, there is still that part of me who feels like a woman abandoned by the person she loved the most.
That moment of rejection, frustration and anger passed as quickly as it came upon me when I remembered how much Dan loved me and realised how hard he would have tried. But I hate the way, after more than two years, those questions that will never get answers can still hit me like a tsunami.