Usually a great big smile greeted me at the door when I visited my friend, Jane. It was unusual for her not to return my phone call. Jane’s usual enthusiastic “hello” was missing. She had the kind of inquisitive insightful personality that made you just feel good no matter your sour mood.
“Hello Jane I’ve been worried about you. I’ve called and left messages. Is anything wrong?”
She looked surprised to see me and I became aware that I had awakened her. She was still in her nightgown and it was the middle of the afternoon; her hair was disheveled and her eyes swollen.
Jane said she had not been feeling well but reluctantly invited me in the house. As we sat down to talk she became more alert – even smiling though it seemed somewhat forced.
The blinds were drawn as we began to make idle chitchat. Through the hallway I could see a mirror with a yellow sticky note. I couldn’t make out what was written on it. I spotted another on a kitchen cabinet – then another on the door she had just closed.
I could make out what was written on that one – It said, “Wait one more day.”
Hesitantly I asked Jane, “what does your note mean? – What are you waiting for?”
Reluctantly she shared a story with me – a secret in her life unknown to any of her current friends or acquaintances. The 30-year old story was recounted as if it happened yesterday. I got the feeling that to her it had just happened yesterday.
It was an unusually warm October night thirty years ago. Jane lived on a busy street in an upstairs rundown apartment. She couldn’t afford the deposit on a phone but would use a girlfriend’s phone in the apartment down the street shared with two other girls.
Jane said that It was about 3:00 a.m. when someone began to beat on the front door of the old house that was divided into four apartments. She kept waiting for someone else to answer the downstairs door because she was sure it wasn’t for her. The neighborhood was not the best.
The porch overhang shielded the perpetrator from her upstairs window. The pounding wouldn’t stop so Jane put on her rope and annoyingly went to look out the downstairs glass door.
Jane was surprised to see two police officers at the door – she opened it. They asked her if she was Jane – she said “yes.”
“You have a family emergency and you need to call home,” said the officer. “What’s wrong,” she asked. The officer refused to say but repeated that she needed to call home. Home was her mother’s house. She was planning to take the two-hour drive the following day for a visit. Her mother and father were divorced but seemed to be rekindling their relationship. Jane had just seen them both together a few weeks earlier. She was learning to play the five-string banjo and her father was thrilled with Jane’s rendition of Wildwood Flower.
Jane said she rushed to dress and ran to her girlfriend’s apartment to make the call. The two police officers waited to accompany her. They didn’t want her to be alone. As she ran Jane thought of her younger brother and how careless he drove. She feared the worse for him.
The sleepy-eyed girls quickly opened the door and Jane immediately grabbed the phone and called her mother’s house. The policemen waited outside with stoic faces.
The answer at the end of the phone line was her brother. Jane said by then she was shaking. He asked if she was alone and she said “no.” She was still standing when he told her that her father had died. Not only had he died but also he had been found in a bathtub of hot water devoid of blood. He had committed suicide by cutting his wrists. She said she collapsed in a chair. The police officers asked if she’d be all right and the girls said they’d take care of Jane.
Jane said everything from that point was a blur. She packed and made the two-hour trip in the pouring rain. She had told her brother in an angry tone that she would have been there the next day. Jane said she didn’t say or understand why she was so angry.
Later as she was driving Jane said she began to realize why she was so angry. Jane kept asking why couldn’t he have “waited just one more day.” Jane said out loud on her drive through tears of anger “Why didn’t you wait just one more day, daddy?” It has been 30-years and she is still asks the same question. Jane said she wonders if he had known how his actions would torment his daughter the rest of her years. Would he have “waited one more day?”
“I would have been there for him in just one more day,” said Jane.
It has been five years since Jane told me that story. Jane was never left alone again this time of year. However, I won’t be visiting Jane anymore because like her father she “just couldn’t wait one more day.”
I’ll miss you Jane and I promise you that I will “wait one more day” just for you.
Editor: A true story for October Depression Awareness Month
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Commentary, Education, Local Events