This piece has descriptions of suicidal ideation.


I had done the research, and I had a plan. I knew that if I hand wrote and signed my will, the document would be valid; that if I took the last L to Ocean Beach, Muni would drop me off across from the zoo well after closing; that if I crossed the highway and boardwalk, past the screams of cars and couples, I would reach the shore; and that if I entered the water, braved the waves’ momentary rush, all would quiet, and I would descend, slowly, away from everything above.

But I never wrote the will or took the last L. Not because the ocean might have placed me back onto the sand, blue and bloated; nor because, as I once read, my throat might have contracted and closed to air before water entered; but because, each time, normal felt like too much—washing at the laundromat, asking for paper not plastic—I pictured the news coming to you in waves as your hand tremored the phone. I heard the policeman straining—“Ms. Cruz, you there?”—as you breathed, “No. No.”

Five years on, I end our monthly call. After you mixed up my name with Dad’s. After your faint words roared. I wonder if I really did move to the high desert to start over. To meet new men. To find peace among the empty mesas and scattered shrubs. Or if I moved here to flee the fear welling in me that when your Parkinson’s dissolves your memory—when it extinguishes your voice, takes you entirely—your absence will be so loud I will need distance from the shore, from the momentary rush, from the promise of that quiet and slow descent.

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