Seven years ago I met a boy in college. We had Journalism and Creative Writing together, and we had class with each other five days a week that whole semester. On June 6, 2007, that boy became my boyfriend, and we began our journey together.
On July 25, 2009 we took a vow in front of God and our family and friends to spend the rest of our lives together, and we were married. In May of 2011 we became parents to our beautiful daughter Adelaide. We had the joy of having another beautiful daughter, Athena in September of 2012.
My husband Chris was a wonderful husband, and daddy. He was an amazing man that touched so many people’s lives. He suffered from Bipolar disorder for many years. He had a constant struggle and battle with his illness, but together we worked through it, and we were able to keep our marriage strong. Unfortunately, that illness ended up claiming his life. He was manic for some time, and that mania turned into a psychosis state on the night of May 11, 2014.
The 11th was Mother’s Day, and I was expecting to wake up to my loving husband. He said the night before he would wake up with the girls and let me sleep in for Mother’s Day. He didn’t wake up with them though. I couldn’t even get him out of bed until around 11:00 am. I was hurt, and I was angry with him. When he came downstairs, he didn’t say a word. No “Happy Mother’s Day” no apology. Not one word. This is not the kind of man my husband was.
The day before he took our two little girls to the store, and let them run around and pick out whatever they wanted for me. Adelaide got me a half dead bouquet of roses, and a pink and white cake. Athena got me a bouquet of flowers, and a pink bag of pink breast cancer awareness yogurt covered pretzels. I also received a Melmo (Elmo) Mommy’s day card signed by the three people I love most in the world. He chose to let them give me my presents on Saturday, because Adelaide can’t keep a secret longer than 2 minutes. This was the kind of man my husband was.
Our plan for the day was for us to spend the morning together, and then drive to my parent’s house. While the girls napped at my parents, Chris was going to hang out with my Dad and Papa there, while I went to the winery for a couple hours with my Mom and Nana. We stuck to this plan, but Chris still hadn’t said a word to me. When we pulled in my parent’s driveway, he got my Mother’s day present out of the back of the van and tossed it at me saying “here’s your gift” and then he walked away from me. I couldn’t believe the way he was acting. My husband was a loving man, and treated me like I was the most important thing in his life. I did go to the winery, and I vented to my Mom and Nana, because I was so upset about how he was treating me. When we returned home, Chris was worse off than when I had left him. I was hoping he had cooled off, and got over being mad about whatever it was that was bothering him, but he hadn’t. At one point he had got in my face and was screaming at me in front of my family. I don’t even remember what he was screaming about, because none of it made any sense to me. I was just so confused.
When we got home, he helped me get the kids in bed, but still never said a word to me. As soon as they were in bed, he went upstairs to go to bed himself. From the beginning of our relationship, we had a rule that we would never go to sleep angry at each other. No matter what it was, we would work it out before we would let the sun go down on our anger. So I followed Chris upstairs. He was lying on his back in bed, and he looked so angry. I asked him if there was something I did to upset him. He didn’t answer. I told him he needed to talk to me about whatever was going on, and that I was so hurt and angry about the way he had treated me all day. No response. By this time my eyes were brimming with angry tears, and I grabbed my pillow and said that I couldn’t even bring myself to lie down next to him, and I would be sleeping on the couch. I’m stubborn though, and after lying on the couch downstairs for a few minutes, I went back upstairs and tried again to talk to him. I told him I wasn’t going to be the one sleeping on the couch, because I didn’t even do anything wrong. He needed to either talk to me about what he was upset about, or he needed to go sleep on the couch. He finally responded. He said he would not be sleeping on the couch, and if I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as him, that was my problem. I still couldn’t believe how he was acting. I started yelling at him to get out of bed and go downstairs to sleep on the couch. He didn’t move. I was getting more and more upset. He was still lying on his back in the same position staring at the ceiling, pretending I wasn’t even there. I gave him a light nudge on his side and told him to get out of bed and go downstairs. He snapped.
There was no longer any part of my husband in this man. In that moment, his psychosis had complete control of his mind and body. He grabbed me and tackled me to the bed, shaking me violently and screaming at me that I had been trying to choke him to death. We rolled off the bed while I tried to fight him off. He had me pinned to the floor, as he shook me, slamming my head against the hardwood floor each time. The thought just kept going through my head over and over again that this was not my husband. This was not Chris. Chris had never laid a hand on me, or been violent with me in the 7 years we were together.
I somehow fought my way out from under him, and got to my feet. He punched our old glass barn window pane that we had turned into a picture frame, and flipped over our dresser. His hand was mangled and dripping blood. He started screaming that I had tried to choke him again. He said he was going to find my phone so I couldn’t call for help, and he was going to call the police and tell them that I had tried to kill him and I abuse our children. Everything that was coming out of his mouth was insanity, and completely unreasonable, and untrue. He ran downstairs to find my phone, and I chased after him to try to get to it first. There was a trail of blood left through the house from his mangled hand. He got to my phone before me, and I tackled him to the floor in our living room, and fought the phone out of his hand. I ran back upstairs and climbed on our bed and started dialing my parent’s number. My mom answered, and by this time I was hysterical. I told her I needed Dad to come help calm Chris down, something was wrong and he had lost it. While I’m sitting on my knees on our bed, crying to my mom, Chris comes up the stairs and goes to get our pistol we kept for protection, in case someone were to ever break in our home.
He took the pistol and held it to my head, and said that he was going to either shoot me or himself, and he asked me which it would be. The look in his eyes was so cold and remote as he held a gun to the head of the woman he loved more than anything. In this moment, I was terrified of my husband, but I was not angry with him. How could I be angry with someone, who at the time was not in their right mind, and had no idea what they were doing? I knew my husband better than any other person, and my husband would never hurt me. I’m still on the phone with my mom, as I’m crying and begging Chris not to shoot me. At some point she hung up and called the police, but I can’t remember the exact moment that she did. The pistol was in his left hand, as he held it to my head, and with his right hand he pulled a pocket knife out of his pocket, and nonchalantly tossed the open blade up and down in his hand. I’m still begging him not to shoot me. I’m pleading with him to come back to himself. His eyes never left mine.
All of the sudden he dropped the knife, and it crashed to the floor. He took the clip out of the pistol and threw them both across the room. He turned and walked into our dressing room/bathroom area and I heard him loading a rifle he had gotten out of our gun safe. I was still terrified, and I was confused. In that moment I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t just shoot me with the pistol. Why did he have to go get a rifle to do it? I took that window of opportunity to race down the stairs, grab my youngest out of bed and take her into my eldest daughter’s room. I locked the door, blocked it with furniture, and tried to stay as calm as I could for my girls. At that point, I was still so terrified for my girls and myself, I never even thought about the fact that my husband would try to hurt himself.
When I think back on that moment now, with my husband holding a gun to my head and holding a knife in his hand, I can remember the look in his eyes when he came out of his psychosis state and became himself again. He realized what was happening. He was holding a gun to his wife’s head. The wife he would have died for, before he would have ever hurt her. This is the moment the knife hit the floor and the gun was thrown across the room. The moment he turned to get a rifle out of the dressing room.
As I’m downstairs in my daughter’s bedroom, clutching my two little girls as I cry and try to reassure them that everything will be okay. That Mommy will keep them safe, and nothing will happen to them, my phone rings. It read “Daddy” on the screen. I quickly answer the phone, but it was a police officer using my dad’s phone to contact me. My dad had been driving to my house to diffuse the situation, when he was pulled over for speeding. The officer stayed on the phone with me the entire time.
I remember looking at the clock when I first went upstairs to confront Chris. It was 9:26 pm. At 10:12 pm a shot went off in my upstairs bedroom. I know without a doubt, God was protecting my mind from the reality of the situation, because he knew I needed to stay strong for my girls. The police officer even asked me if I heard the gunshot. I told him it wasn’t a gunshot. I told him I thought my husband either threw a piece of furniture or slammed a door. I told him, I was positive it was not a gunshot. My family is hunters, and I know the sound of a .30-06 rifle going off. It is nothing like the sound of a door being slammed, or a dresser being thrown. That’s how I know God was protecting my mind, because my normal mind would have known that sound, and would have known that my husband was lying dead upstairs in our dressing room. God knew it was only 10:12 though, and I had to keep my head together for another hour until the officers were able to retrieve my two girls and myself out of my daughter’s bedroom window. For that hour I tried to stay calm, having no idea that my whole world had just crumbled to pieces. My little girls were sitting on the floor playing with each other’s toes, while Adelaide taught Athena how to sing her ABC’s.
Fast forward 3 hours. I’m sitting in the police station by myself. My dad had taken the girls back to my parent’s house to put them to bed a couple hours ago. I’m sitting there worrying about how much money it will be to bail Chris out of jail, and what hospital I will admit him in for psychiatric care. The police chief walks into his office where I’m waiting, and I immediately start asking where my husband is, and when I can see him. His eyes are brimming with tears as he says the fourteen words that would forever change my life, “I’m so sorry Mrs. Deason, but your husband took his own life. He’s dead.” The words hit me harder than any blow. I dropped down to the chair in shock and disbelief. I just kept saying over and over “No no no, this isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.” I became more and more hysterical as the reality of my husband’s death washed over me. I sat in the room screaming and crying with the police chief for forty-five minutes, until my Mom came to pick me up. I must have been a sight to see. No shoes, my feet filthy from running down the street to the police vehicle, cut off pajama pants, and a tank top covered in blood spots from Chris’ hand bleeding while we were wrestling, and a face full of complete brokenness and despair. My life had been turned upside down in the matter of hours.
I’ve had numerous things said to me since this tragic event. Some helpful, some not. One thing multiple people keep saying is that I will get over my anger towards Chris. I’m not angry at Chris for what he did. I’m not angry at Chris for holding a gun to my head, because I know without a doubt in my mind that it wasn’t him, it was his illness. I wish with all my heart that Chris wouldn’t have killed himself, but I’m not angry with him for doing it. I know that he did it, because when he came back to himself and realized what he had done, he couldn’t live with the knowledge that he had almost killed his wife in a moment of insanity. I know in my heart that the act of killing himself was because he loved me and our girls so much, that he could never take the chance of losing himself again, and harming us. How can I be angry at someone for giving their life for the protection of the ones they love most? Yes, he didn’t have to do it. I would have forgiven him for everything, and we would have worked to get him well again. Chris wasn’t willing to take that chance though, and I’m trying to understand the choice he made.
Chris was the love of my life, and I will always love him. I will spend every day talking to my girls about him, and telling them all the wonderful stories and memories of their Daddy. They’re so young, I know they won’t remember much, but I will make sure that when they’re older they’ll know the amazing guy they had for a Daddy.