It seems like forever ago that Jake died.
Jake and I met through mutual friends. I had recently dropped out of Bible College and moved in with a girl. That fell apart. I was alone, scared and confused when the universe brought me one of the brightest lights to shine on my life. He moved in as my roommate the day after we met and we were best friends from then until he died.
He was the ‘maid of honour’ at my wedding to my first husband. He cared for me all day, ignoring things like eating, and making sure it was my special day in every way possible.
At my wedding, we didn’t have a big dinner/dance reception. My parents are very religious and we decided to respect their beliefs with our reception. We had an afternoon tea. However, the man I married is Russian so, after all the ‘day’ stuff was done, we had a party back at our new apartment with all of his friends from the old country. Russian vodka was flowing along with wine, champagne, import beer and anything you could imagine.
I wasn’t much of a drinker at that point in my life but Jake was an alcoholic. And he matched all my husbands friends shot for shot on the vodka along with polishing off the 26oz bottle of rye I gave him to thank him.
He came to me at one point and told me he was going to be sick. I told him, “If you puke on my white carpet on my first night in my new place, I’ll kill you. Go sleep in my husband’s bedroom.”
That’s the last thing I said to my best friend. I went to wake him the next morning, to come with us to the post wedding brunch, and he was blue. We hadn’t gotten phone hook-up yet so I went across the hall and introduced myself to my new neighbours and borrowed the phone.
Police came. Because of the party circumstances we had to leave our apartment for a week while it was investigated and an autopsy done.
That’s a sad story. And I’ve told it to people who reassure me I wasn’t responsible.
So let me shed some light on it.
My first marriage was a huge lie. Literally. My ex had applied for refugee status and it was denied. I met and became friends with him because he drove pizza where I worked. I had been asked to help him with his English. Another friend of his explained the situation and asked if I would marry him.
I was a closeted lesbian who thought she could make her parents happy by giving them a straight wedding. I had compassion for his situation and wanted to help. I disagreed with Canada’s immigration laws so I convinced myself this was some kind of political protest. For so many reasons, I agreed to marry him.
It was shrouded in secrecy. I got private coaching from others who had gone through the process. It took over a year to set up, convince family this was real and have an entire ‘relationship’. We had to tell the least amount of people possible. But I told Jake.
He begged me not to do it. After everything I was doing to try and come out of the closet? He told me I was running right back in and hiding behind a wedding dress. At first he refused to have anything to do with it.
And I got upset with him. I threatened our friendship if he wasn’t willing to help me pull off the biggest bamboozle of my life. He succumbed and stepped into my big lie with me. And then spent that whole day taking care of me, instead of himself.
He wouldn’t have been there if not for my lie. He would not have been there except I threatened loss of love. When he could have gotten sick and maybe had a chance to live? I told him I’d kill him if he puked.
I have often shared the pain of losing Jake. But I’ve been hiding the incredible guilt I feel over being responsible for his death. I’m not sure yet how I am going to accept responsibilty, forgive myself and move past this. But I’ve come to understand this has affected me much more deeply than was willing to admit.
There are people that still don’t know the truth and I will need to be honest and ask forgiveness. It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows of this dark secret. Hopefully bringing light will also bring healing.