She promised me she would come and say goodbye before she took her life. Only because I made her promise me, it was all that I could think to do when I ran out of ideas. Weeks before, I had tried to cheer her up but I was in way over my head. She agreed to talk to a professional but after a few sessions she was underwhelmed by his approach and stopped.
The second time she came to say goodbye she brought back some books she borrowed. I knew that was a very bad sign, so I tried to drain her poison. I asked her to tell me everything she hated. She started slowly with some life frustrations, but soon I didn’t recognize her. Her voice changed, her face changed, as a deep hatred from her childhood took over. I sat in silence as she finished, praying for help. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we ask of Him.” 1 John 5:14,15. That is about as straight forward as a promise gets. I knew that God did not want her to take her own life, so my prayer was clearly “according to Your will.” Amen.
Then, I asked her to tell me everything she loved. The wonderful person whom I knew, returned. Her smile came back and her eyes filled with tears as she expressed her love for her husband and the joy she found in her children. “Why then?” I asked bluntly.
“I’m afraid I’m going to turn into my parents. I can feel it.” She confessed.
“But you’ve broken that cycle,” I pleaded, “You are the very opposite.”
She was. But none of what I said mattered. Nothing moved her from her plan.
“I came to say goodbye because I promised you I would,” she repeated firmly.
I panicked. “Why not just leave this life, not life altogether,” I offered. I tried to convince her to fly that evening to a retreat I’d heard of in Europe. I think the offer shocked her and maybe touched her because she promised to wait and think about it and let me know.
A few weeks later I said goodbye to her in the intensive care unit, but she wasn’t conscious to hear it. Her broken promise, I forgave that very day. The other promise I was counting on, has changed me some from that day on.