Yes, of course.
But, I wasn't being safe or sensible.
What? John kill himself? It just didn't seem real. He could be moody and withdrawn sometimes, but so desperately unhappy he wanted to die? We had a good life--or we seemed to up until he arrived home from work a few minutes before--in the middle of the day--and announced that something bad had happened.
I had never dealt with someone who was suicidal, or anyone who was in this kind of crisis. Again, I couldn't believe it. John?
Not only was he the smartest person I knew, he was the guy everyone went to if they were having troubles with work, family, romantic relationships. He was a great listener, and he had been a lifelong volunteer for different nonprofits, where he was often in the position of helping people with problem solving. This included, when we first started going out, working on a crisis hotline in San Francisco, talking people out of taking their lives. Before, our baby was born, he had volunteered at San Francisco's Zen Hospice, tending to people who were dying. Surely, someone with with this sort of background had to know himself pretty well and to have a pretty healthy sense of self.
How could he be so incredibly depressed he was suicidal? I just couldn't believe it.
In any event, the longer we sat there on our sofa, the more my mind turned to his news he was under police investigation.
The investigation must have been on John's mind to, because he announced he wanted to call the Humboldt State University police. He got up, went to the phone, and was put right through to the chief, whom he knew from working around campus. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," I heard him say.
Then he made an appointment to go in and meet with the police in a few days.
I absorbed this news, and then thought, shit, he can't go into the police and just tell them everything he did--whatever it was he did.
People under police investigation are not supposed to talk to the police. I didn't just learn that from TV shows or movies. In a former life, I had been a newspaper reporter--a crime reporter to be exact. That's just how it was. A suspect risked a lot. As the Miranda warning goes, anything a suspect says--even something seemingly benign--could be interpreted in certain ways and used against a suspect in a court of law.
I was also aware of the phenomenon of false confessions. Yes, people do confess to crimes they don't commit. Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area might remember the highly publicized case of Bradley Page, an Acalanes High graduate and UC Berkeley student prosecuted for the 1984 murder of his girlfriend, Roberta "Bibi" Lee, also a UC Berkeley student.
Well, in the year or so before becoming a mom, I had written about Page's confession--having gained access to the transcript of it. Fascinating document; it showed clearly how a mentally distraught, eager-to-please suspect could be led by persuasive detectives, after hours of interrogation, into saying things that could come off as incriminating. With an absence of physical evidence, and in the era before DNA testing, Page was convicted in his girlfriend's killing solely on the basis of this so-called confession, in which, I recall, he never actually said anything to the effect of "I did it" but "If I were to do it, this is how I would."
I saw my husband as being sort of Brad Page-like--mentally distraught and eager to please.
John was also anguished by guilt. Yes, it was clear he had been caught doing something wrong, something illegal. He had been escorted out of his office by campus police after being confronted.
Hearing that he was going to go meet with police, I envisioned him spending hours with detectives and perhaps taking responsibility for things he didn't do.
After the interview, I thought, he'd be taken into custody. Jail. What about our child?
I was suddenly angry. What did John mean he was just going to walk into the university police department and talk to detectives? No, I told him, you're not going to do that.
You're going to get a lawyer.
If only I had thought about getting him to the hospital.