Feb. 28th, 2017

jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I think I'm still a little bit in shock about Rafal, but I'm starting to feel things a bit deeper now. I hadn't interacted with him in a long time, but I thought about him fairly often, really. I'm not at all the same person I was when I dated him, and I'm sure he's quite different, too, but I do think that we fundamentally knew and understood each other from our time together in ways that only people who've dated long-term really do. And writing that feels almost silly, because we were CHILDREN practically. But those were formative years, and it did last a long time, especially for two kids. Thinking back on my teenage years, he's all throughout them. I want to record as many of my memories here as I can, now that I'm the sole proprietor of so many of them.

Before he died, if you'd asked me to make a list of the people I love, he probably would not have been on it. We were Facebook friends, but we rarely interacted and had few mutual friends anymore. He mattered to me, but if you'd told me I would never see him again, I probably would have just felt like, "yeah, I didn't expect to." But now he's gone, it's clear I still have love for him. I haven't stopped thinking about him since I found out about what happened. I want to write about him in two ways -- I need to process what has happened, and write about that, but I also just want to write memories from 20 years ago. I want to read those memories again one day and just have them, not his grisly death, on my mind. So I think I'll say a few more things about how I'm processing his death, and then move on to the memories in a new post.

I don't remember a single specific fight he and I had, but we did fight a lot. We both had terrible tempers. But he never laid a hand on me. I do remember being afraid to break up with him, because I thought he may hurt himself. I was never afraid of him hurting me, even when we got very angry. Maybe going through memories will bring up some specifics of our fights, because looking back I'm not even sure wtf we had to fight about. But anyway thinking about his temper and his passion, I'm honestly not surprised about what happened. (For those who did not see my facebook posts: he shot his wife and then himself. He had been with her since shortly after he and I broke up; nearly 17 years.) I'm nearly certain he did not plan to hurt her. I don't know why he owned a gun but I can say with near certainty that what happened is that they were fighting, it got incredibly heated, and because he had a gun nearby, he shot her without thinking. I'm sure he regretted it instantly, and then killed himself. From what I've heard from people closer to them, they were having marriage issues, and I think he was afraid of losing her. Maybe he was losing her, and couldn't handle it. He is absolutely the kind of person who attaches his identity to his relationship. Every photo in his Facebook profile is the two of them together. They did EVERYTHING together, even after 17 years. I'm sure he couldn't imagine life without her, or doing so sent him spiraling. I doubt there's a note, because I think it all probably happened in an instant. I am painfully curious about the details, but at the same time, I think I can imagine them well enough. I'm also certain that if he didn't own a gun, they'd both still be alive. I believe it was a blinded-by-rage situation, and not premeditated. It's possible I'm wrong about this, but I don't know. I don't know why they would've had a gun. Rafal could be very paranoid; maybe he'd had one just in case for years. It's possible he just liked shooting and went to ranges for a hobby. I could see him being into that.

A lot of friends have said to me that they're glad I didn't stay with him; glad it wasn't me. Sure, I'm better off for having moved on, but I don't believe he would've killed me if we had stayed together. I'd have never allowed a gun in my house. He could be mean and hurtful, but he never lied to me. I know he wouldn't have gone behind my back on the issue if I'd insisted. So I just know that situation never would've played out. So I'm not having the kind of emotional "oh my god that could've been me" attack. I'm not sure what all my emotions are, but they're not that. There's actually a lot of regret at not staying in touch with Rafal better, which is weird. I find myself wishing I had known him in his 30's, like I had in his teens and 20's. (The trajectory of our relationship was thus: friends for a little while, followed by dating for nearly 3 years, followed by a very painful breakup where we didn't speak to one another for years after, then he reached out to me when I married Jeremy and we became friends again. We started getting really close, and Whitney wasn't comfortable with it, so after a few months of that, we stopped chatting much. But when I lived in Charlottesville, I'd run into them both at the gym, and we were in touch occassionally on Facebook, and I know he was a regular reader of this very LJ. I'm not sure if/when he stopped reading. Probably the last time we actually spoke to one another other than a FB comment -- which itself was rare -- was around the time I moved to Oregon. So, nearly a decade now.) Anyway I feel like it should be easy to hate him, because look what he did. He's a murderer. And now he's gone so good riddance? But I don't feel that way at all. I regret that he ever got a gun. Because he and I are a lot alike, and I know that if I'd ever owned a gun, the chances are 100% that I'd have killed myself and probably better than 50% that I'd have taken someone with me in anger. And I don't think I'm a bad person. I think I have had trouble controlling my temper, and because of that (and a zillion other reasons), I know I can never have a gun. Maybe Rafal trusted himself too much. Or maybe he knew, just like I do, that owning a gun would be his undoing, and he made the conscious decision to go that route. I don't know. Maybe that's something the investigation will uncover. Whether those answers ever trickle to me is unlikely, though.

Anyway what I've learned so far from my own reaction is that I still held a lot of love in my heart for Rafal. It makes me think of how there are certain other exes in my life that I have often wished...not dead...but out of existence? I'm not saying I've ever wanted harm to befall any of my past loves, but there is so much baggage, with McKenzie especially, being out there in the world and involved in bridge in a way that keeps me from comfortably participating the way that I want to. And I have so much anger toward him, too. Sometimes I hate that he's successful or happy. It would be easier for me, sometimes I think, if I never had to know that he was out there. That sounds rough, I guess, but it's a feeling that's in me. And now with Rafal's death, I know that's not really what I want. Because no matter how much anger or even apathy I think I feel, I once felt intense and deep love for him, and that's enduring in me, somewhere, some way.

I wonder about their families...Whitney's especially. I know Rafal was very much a part of her family, and I'm sure they loved him. Do they still? Or do they hate him for his final act, taking her with him? Can they reconcile years of loving him as family with what he's done? Can they bury them as a couple? Would burying them together or separately be more of a dagger to their memories? How do you even?

I find myself wanting to talk with him. Meditating to connect. But I know that doesn't happen. The dead don't just talk to the living. Maybe they show up in some ways, plant seeds for us and leave signs, or visit dreams...or maybe the living just make up these ideas for their own comfort, and they're not real at all. But maybe, even if they don't communicate back in a way we can understand, the dead can hear our messages to them? I don't really believe this, but in light of this event, I WANT to. And so I've been talking to him a little, trying to get him to help me fill in the missing pieces in the memories I'm about to record. I don't know if he's there or not. I think probably not, but I want him to be. Even if he is a fucking murderer. Fuck.


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