"So why did you do it?"
"I don't know really. At the time it just felt right."
"What was it that finally set you off?"
"I don't think you'd believe me if I told you."
"Try me."
"Well I was upset about something so I sat down to play a few games of solitaire. And I kept playing and playing, but I couldn't win. I tried maybe twenty hands. Now usually, I win on the first or second, but this time, no matter what, I just couldn't beat it. I played for ages, but nothing. Finally I couldn't handle it any more and I just wanted to cry. But I couldn't do that either. There just weren't any tears left. And that's when I knew."
"Solitaire? Solitaire's the reason you tried to kill yourself?"
"When I was a kid, someone gave me a pack of cards with this quote on it that said something along the lines of 'Life is like a game of cards. The hand you get represents determinism, the way you play it represents free will.' Well I had my free will, but without the right cards, it can only get you so far."

This was one of many taped conversations I found in my father's cabinet in his office after he died. He worked as a psychiatrist, so he had a lot of patients come in, from all backgrounds and with all kinds of problems, but mostly he dealt with teenage suicide cases. He had this tape marked with a red squiggly line and a black sun rising out of it. I'm not sure what this meant. Dad had a strange way of marking things, a sort of code that the rest of us could never understand. This tape must have been special because most of the other tapes just had names and dates on them, sometimes little summaries like "Lunatic with the dog" or "Skinny girl whose freckles attack her when she sleeps". We knew he only used his code for things that were really important to him, so that the rest of us could never understand. On the other hand, once we found blue polka dots in a circle on one of our milk cartons. We asked Dad what it was, and he said that when we were older we'd understand. I'm 22 now, and that happened when I was just 8. I still don't get it.

It was strange around the house after Dad was gone. There was no cigar smoke coming from the office that he spent every moment in when he wasn't at work, and I had to do all the cooking and cleaning for my little brothers since I was supposed to be the adult now. Mom had passed away years ago, so my sister and I were in charge of cleaning the entire house and putting it on the market. Since my sister lives in Chicago, I told her I'd take care of everything and that she shouldn't bother coming over. There wasn't even a funeral to attend since it had always been our father's expressed wish that he be cremated and have his ashes thrown across Route 4, where my mother's had been, since they met in a 24-hour diner there six years before my sister was born. It was sweet, in a way, but I hated doing it since the highway is grimy, and disgusting, and I think it's wrong for a bunch of unsuspecting people to be driving upon the remains of two complete strangers without even knowing it, but it wasn't my choice, and I had vowed to respect all of his final wishes.

Dad had left a little something special for all of us in the will, along with money, the house, and a hefty life insurance claim. For my youngest brother, he left his old baseball card collection, which amongst its many other treasures, housed a perfect mint condition Mickey Mantle rookie card. For my other brother he left his favorite gold watch, and for my sister he left his medals from when he had served in the Vietnam War. For me, he left a lighter. A few months before he passed away, he and I had a conversation about how, as much as I had always hated smoke, there was something comforting in that cigar smoke that swirled and danced down the hall and into our nostrils as we sat outside our dad's office, hoping that he would come and play catch with us, but knowing he wouldn't. The lighter was a relic, the only one we had ever seen him use for as long as we could remember, and plated in 24k gold with a tiny ruby laid into the cap. I was playing with the lighter when I was cleaning out his office. Flicking it open, lighting it, and closing it shut again. Flick, light, close. Flick, light, close. Finally I put it down on his desk, next to a half-finished game of solitaire. I left the room, closed the door, and locked it behind me.