In the beginning, I didn’t really want to get into this relationship with her because I knew she had been suicidal and I had just lost a friend the year before. She had had post-partum depression and had killed herself. So I was leery.
I think about Anne’s suicide constantly. It’s fresh. I don’t think it will ever fade. I think I have finally forgiven her. I was angry, I felt bereft, betrayed. If we had had the good psychotropic drugs then that we have now, she would probably have lived a long and fruitful life, and certainly Sylvia Plath would have, too. Anne’s suicide was absolutely inevitable. Nobody fought harder to stay alive than Anne. She fought those voices every day, those voices that said, “Come to us. Die.” The medications that were provided then were so raw. First, she was sun-sensitive – she couldn’t be outside in weather at all. And second, they made her really woolly, and she couldn’t write. She turned to alcohol in those last years. She turned to whatever men she could find for companionship. There had been so many previous attempts – or mock attempts – but they were pretty serious. She would call Father Dunn and say, “I want you to give me the last rites over the telephone” – that sort of telegraphing what she was planning to do. He was a wonderful guy. He told her, “God is in your typewriter.” She was constantly in search of one absolutist thing that she could cling to. She thought maybe if she became a Catholic, that would be it, but she never quite made the jump.Maxine Kumin on Anne Sexton