January 14, 1987

Getting dressed for the 6th grade
A grey mini dress
It’s a Tuesday
A ringing telephone
Disjointed, indistinct whispers
“Crystal’s Dad???”
I ask my stepfather, “What is it?”
No answer
But honestly, I know the world has changed
Sitting on our ugly zebra striped couch
Momma pulls in from working the night shift and out he goes, practically running
They talk in the gravel drive
She sobbing
No one is talking to me
I stare blinding out our plate glass window partially obscured by crocheted ivory curtains
I wonder how my life has changed
Know instinctively that I will never see my father again in this life
There are no tears
My mother sits to my right, pulls me to her
Sobbing into my shoulder, she whispers in my ear
“Baby, your Daddy is gone”
I don’t react
I don’t even ask how.
A stream of people entering
Everyone hysterical
I observe
Take in every vision, feeling, word, tear
More whispers… a gun, such a shame, so young, instant death, dressed in his wedding suit, only 28 years old, doing that meth and drinking for years, no wonder really…..
How is she taking it?
I watch “Johnny and the Cruisers” on HBO.
By now, I know the details: Came home drunk from a bar, showered, dressed in his wedding suit, laid down on his mattress
Shot himself in the throat, instantaneous, left very little mess
Which is good,
My grandmother and my 4 year old cousin find the body
My mother asks if I want to see the body at the funeral home
Encourages closure
I agree
But there will be no closure
Not even 20 years later.
I never cried
Not then
At the funeral I can’t touch his body
I still can’t forgive myself for that
In retrospect, his Sunday night phone call prior was a warning
“Baby, no matter what happens, I love you”
He was sobbing
I was 11, and what the fuck does suicide mean to an 11 year old
I missed the signs.
It never ends you know.
In my dreams and my poetry
It never ends
Closure shall not be mine to claim.

Jeff Bentley Brown Jr.
9-23-1958 --01-14-1987

Crystal French

January 14, 1987

Crystal French

Port Angeles, United States

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