Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Sudden Ending.

This morning, as either my daughter, son-in-law or I do every Sunday at some point, I went up to the local grocery store to pick up the Sunday paper. Brought home a few other things too - fresh ground beef, buns, hot dog rolls; a honeydew melon and fresh strawberries as well - to have for supper tonight - grilled burgers and hot dogs, macaroni salad and a nice fruit salad. I took my little Princess Maya with me too so she'd get a little bit of an outing today at least.

At the store, the clerks all make a big fuss over her because they know her. Until about two months ago, this is where Mandy worked. And, Maya knows the names of almost all the cashiers, the girls who work behind the office desk and the folks back in the deli too which is where Mandy worked. As we were leaving the deli area though, one of the deli clerks had a visitor - her sister came in and brought the clerk's little girl -who is about 2-3 weeks younger than our little Kurtis - in to see her Mommie and seeing another little child like that always excites Maya very much. For most of the rest of the time we were in the store she kept telling me over and over "Wan' see the baby?" The funny thing about how excited she gets out in public over babies, other children -even adults ("Wan' see the peoples" becomes the chant then) - but at home, the only time she gives any mention to her baby brother, Kurtis, is if she is trying to get our attention AWAY from where we are trying to get hers!!! A great diversionary tactitian she does try to be.

I make sure one of us makes this regular stop every Sunday mainly because I don't have a subscription to the Centre Daily Times and I am addicted to the darned Sunday crossword puzzle. I didn't say I was good at doing it now -just admitted that I am addicted to it though. I generally have already read the CDT online early Sunday morning before going up for the print edition - always read the headlines of national or state news, then I click in to the local news and read through articles of interest, which includes the CDT's obituary section and I finish up with the editorial section online.

Generally, this keeps me somewhat up-to-date with local comings, goings and with the obituaries, passings too. However, the CDT has two obituary sections - sort of. One is the full obituary they publish and the other often is just a death notice which is merely a small blurb that so-and-so died, the age, date of death and viewing and funeral arrangements. I don't usually read the "death notice section as sometimes, it seems they don't always have things in there in the online version. Today was one of those days when I didn't check the death notices.

Got back home, got my coffee, ash tray, smokes, lighter, a big old fresh donut too (actually, a big old chocolate eclair, just what I really do NOT need) and was ready to start in on the crossword puzzle but for some reason or other, I opened up the paper and was glancing down the obit and death notice section when something caught my eye under the notices.

I gasped, audibly and Mandy looked at me with a very puzzled look, then asked me "What's wrong?" With my finger, I pointed to a death notice and she was shocked too.

There was a death notice for a young man, 27 years old, whose sister happens to be a very, very good friend of my son's. The sister has been to our home many, many times over the years and not only are she and my son very good friends, but my girls and I consider her to be a good friend of ours too.

Seeing that piece, and because my son had never mentioned anything at all being wrong with his friend's brother, I knew, instinctively this death had to be from one of two causes. I don't know as yet what happened to him, but my heart goes out to his parents, his sister, his extended family, because no family should have to suffer the kind of hurt it is to lose a child to begin with, much less under the type of circumstances I am sure most likely caused his death.

Mandy decided then and there she was going to fix something to take to the family home - well to the mother and sister - the parents are divorced. So between the two of us - I made the sauce, she mixed the ricotta cheese and other stuff, cooked the noodles and put together a big pan of lasagne to take up to his mother and sister. My son was on his way home today from their last run for this week and when Mandy called and told him what little we knew, he was very upset - hurting for his friend and her parents and also grieving for the brother as he knew him quite well, considered him also a friend.

Alcohol and/or drugs really are terrible components you know. Over the past 31 years now, I have known at least four or five truck drivers I was friends with through the truckstop I worked at, as well as a classmate or two, a woman who was a former neighbor, a neighbor's son that I grew up with and a cousin - son of my Mom's oldest brother - all died through their own hands. When people take that step, the aftermath it leaves for the family and yes, for friends too, as they try to cope is complicated then with feelings of guilt, confusion, anger and of course, the terrible consuming grief of the loss. Of the suicides I mentioned above, only two were not fueled by alcohol and/or drugs.

I know what an awful void my cousin's death left in our family, although we knew his choice came from alcohol. But my neighbor's son - because no one had a clue, not a clue that he had such thoughts, it devasted his parents as well as his siblings and completely rocked the entire community here as well.

I can't say that I don't understand the feelings that sometimes grip us of such despair because I can - and many years ago I thought of doing the same thing. I even tried once and failed. But, although some friends and family members accuse me today of having self-destructive thoughts because I still smoke, I did get help I very much needed way back when I really DID have thoughts of that nature. And, although there are days when I do get down in the dumps, depressed, sometimes even yes, think things might be better if I were not here, I won't follow through with them now simply because I would not want to ever put my children and now, my grandchildren through that type of anguish.

Today, seeing how Mandy immediately began planning to fix something to take to the family's home though did make me feel good about my daughter - to see that she is that caring, wanting to reach out, to try to offer comfort in some small way. Knowing too my son was going to go see the family too makes me very proud of both these kids of mine. They are both very caring, sympathetic and empathetic people who also know how much it means to have arms and prayers wrapped around you when you are feeling at what has to be the lowest of your life.

So - what's the message in my posting this tragedy? Simply this - if you - anyone reading this - is feeling this is the ONLY way to possibly deal with the problems facing you, please, please, PLEASE reach out and find help from someone, from anyone, from a pastor, priest, rabbi, counselor, close friend, relative. There is someone, always there really is, another person who can and will listen, who can and will help to find the help needed to guide back to living without those terrible thoughts running wild in your mind. Do not do anything to destroy yourself. Don't do anything that will devastate. possibly even destroy your family too.

And please, remember this young man in your prayers. Remember his parents and sister too that some peace, some comfort will begin to flow their way.

Thanks for reading; for listening; for caring.
Nite now.


lattégirl said...

How terribly sad.

We found a similar death notice not that long ago -- the daughter of a dear friend. There was no cause of death mentioned, except for that dreaded word, "Suddenly."

We could only speculate, because in lieu of flowers, the family had asked for donations to a cause for mental illness. So we thought perhaps she had killed herself. And she was only 27. Her family was grief-stricken. Our hearts were breaking for them.

Smalltown RN said...

What a tragic loss for all. Our lives are so short and the thought of taking ones own life just screams for is even worse when you to believe there are no signs...but there are.....withdrawl...changes in behaviours....isolation....lack of personal hygiene....change in appetite...the list goes matter how old our children our we have a right to question...and to always go with our gut feeling..there is something to be said for gut feelings.

Like you my dear friend I had momemnts of despair when I thought my life wasn't worth living that they all would be better off without me....once when I was a teenager...but in hind sight that was attention seeking behaviours...and as an adult...I thought that was the only way....well it isn't...there are so many thing in life to live for...and in our times of despair we must reach out...we must talk....we must seek help...because often when we see things so dark and hopeless often they aren't and it is only through the eyes of others that we can start to change things....

Oh thank you Jeni for such a wonderful post...something that we all need to talk about.

You have raised your children well, to be able to show such compassion for others....bless you ...bless your children...and I pray for the family and their loss....

Shelby said...

so sad. you do have such great compassion. that's a very good thing.

here's hugs.

thewriterslife said...

Wow, great post, Jeni. You're a very compassionate woman and I love you for that. I remember the first time I ever heard about someone taking their own life and it was a friend of a friend, but I knew of him. Young. Girlfriend just left him. He locked himself inside a running car in a closed garage. They found him dead. It really had a dramatic impact on me for two reasons. One, I knew him, but two, it really bothered me when someone would kill themselves out of (lack of in this case) love. And then of course, my mind started thinking all kinds of things like why did this girlfriend leave him, what were the circumstances? I'll never forget it. I think I was in my latter teens when I got this news. And it really made an impact. I've got through crap throughout my life but never, not once, did I ever think about ending it. And you know why? My children. My children are the reasons for a lot of things, but thank God that that is one of them. Quite a post, Jeni, and one that is needed.

Linda said...

Jeni -

This was an absolutely wonderfully written post and it was easy to see that you wrote it from your heart. It speaks with such compassion, caring, and concern and also speaks of something that so many people don't want to even think about.

Working in an Emergency Medical field and in 911, I have had more than my fair share of calls from people stating that they are thinking of killing themselves or that they don't think that life is worth living anymore. Even though I have compassion for these people, it is more likely that the ones who don't call, who never pick up 911, who never go to an emergency room are the people you end up reading about in the obituaries. Over the years I have sadly learned that the ones who need the most help, are never the ones who ask for it. I truly wish that were not the case.

A very long time ago, at the time of my first divorce, I was in such pain from the loss of my marriage that I gave thought to doing something to end that pain but I had my 6-month old son to think about and so I never carried through on what were very dark thoughts. However, I can see how people who are sitting at the edge would find it all too easy to jump off sometimes.

There are times even now when I wake up in the mornings tired and discouraged and weighed down by single parenthood and all that it holds and think that it would be perfectly okay were I not to wake up some morning. However, I never would do anything to cause that to happen. One of the biggest staying factors is the thought that suicide is the ultimate selfish act that hurts so many people.

I hope that it was something else that caused the death of your son's friend for if it was suicide, that is something that is going to take his family a very long time to come to grips with - if they ever do.

Thank you for taking the time to write this post about this very sensitive subject. I wish that everyone could read it.

Berni said...

Thanks for sharing this Jeni. So often we do not pick up on another's state of mind and this post shows us to stop and listen to others beyond being just social. How often do we ask "How you doing" and get "Fine" back, but we need listening hearts to hear what is really being said.