This post is about an uncomfortable topic. I am not going to sugar coat anything. I am going to tell it like it is in all it’s gruesome glory. This post, is about suicide.
People say suicide is a selfish act. I disagree. Suicide is not typically meant to hurt others, directly or indirectly. Sometimes you need to look at it from a different point of view, from the point of view of the person committing the act.
Someone very close to me recently committed suicide. She had been battling mental illness for decades. She was not looking for attention. The manner in which she committed suicide shows that she was dedicated to her decision and was not crying out for help. She was not trying to ruin someone’s day, or life, not even her own. She committed this act to be free from her mental illness.
It’s pretty devastating hearing of the death of someone you loved so much, someone your husband and child loved so much, someone who was a significant part of your life. You ask yourself so many questions, that cannot be answered, but you ask anyway. What could I have done? Why didn’t I call her the night before like I was going to? Did she know we love her? Did she know many people loved her? Was she feeling alone? What triggered this? Did something happen recently or was this planned out? We will never have these answers, but we search for them anyway. It’s human nature to ask, “Why?”
It was early morning on a weekday. Commuters were at train stations across the suburbs ready to start their work day down town, or possibly somewhere along the way. This is when she decided to take her own life. She stepped in front of a commuter train 300 feet from the station at 6:15am. Like I said earlier, she committed the act in a way that was not a cry for help, this was a committed decision, where there’s no chance of survival. There was no note, no signs, no clues. I am sure this was something she thought about time and time again, but never pulled the trigger. I am sure if there were clues, someone would try and stop her. When you are committed to this decision, you don’t want someone to know this is your plan, you don’t want someone to stop you. This was her darkest hour. She did not think of how this would affect others. She did not think of the train conductor who was a front row eye witness. She did not think of the commuters that were simply waiting for their train and start their days. She did not think of the ways this would affect the first responders that had to see the aftermath of her actions. She did not think how this would affect her loved ones, especially her husband, siblings, children, grandchildren, friends, nieces, nephews and my child. It’s obvious to me that she did not think of these things because of the darkness that plagued her deep down inside.
The news was shocking. Not shocking in the way that you hear of death, not even unexpected death. Those have answers, those have reasons. You are not left asking the dreaded question, “Why?”. Suicide is a decision and it leaves people asking questions, it leaves people wondering if there was anything they could have done to stop this. You are left with a shock that makes you question if this is even real, did this really happen, because you don’t want to believe it did.
Anyone who knows me knows I want to solve the mystery, whatever mystery that is at the time. I will research to find as many answers that I can, then see if the pieces match up and make sense. This event is no exception, even though it hurts. But even as the facts are found, the question still remains, “Why?”
From here on out, I can only speculate. I have my own conclusions. I don’t know if I am right, I guess I never will since she is not here to confirm or deny. I read the news articles, I saw the photos and videos that the press released. I saw the location where she did it, in the photos and from an aerial map. I saw the body bag in which her remains were placed. I saw the men on the tracks picking up pieces of her, I saw them bring out a hose for the final clean up. I have a general idea of what happened that morning, starting just after 6am. But what happened in the days and hours leading up to this? Were her Instagram and Facebook posts relevant? Was the decision made that morning, or well in advance. Did she sit in this some spot on random mornings contemplating if today was the day? I guess I will never know.
She meant a lot to me. She was a blood relative to my husband and son, and she was the true definition of family to me. She showed me that. She showed all of us unconditional love and support. She was there for us when we needed help the most. When my husband underwent major back surgery, she helped us care for him and our son. When we weren’t sure how we were going to feed ourselves, she helped us buy groceries. When my husband and I needed to reconnect, she watched our son so we could go on dates.
We always felt indebted to her; like we owed her for all the help. She never wanted to be paid back. In death we realized that we did pay her back, by letting her watch our child. She always loved children and was always at peace with them. She loved to make kids happy, which is why she did so many wonderful things for ours. She opened her heart to me, she told me all of her grievances, she shared with me her skeletons. By allowing her to do that, I paid her back. No one was keeping score though.
My son loved her. He didn’t care about her demons, he only cared about the love he felt from her. She did things with him, even though no one expected her to. She was not just a babysitter, she went above and beyond. I hope he remembers her. She took him to her old neighborhood places, like the arcade by her house, fishing, the nature center, hot dog joints (and introduced him to a cheese dog), even the science museum. She never forgot to send birthday and holiday cards and always made sure he had a gift to open from her for Christmas and his birthday. He would cheer when I told him she was coming to babysit, he even made a list of movies to watch with her.
Telling him was hard. My husband did the speaking. We talked about what we would tell him and we decided not to give him the details. We told him there was an accident and she passed away. He cried with us. He seemed to have bounced back initially. For my husband and I the grieving process is hard, especially since there are so many questions we will never get answers to.
The services were a week later, she was cremated. I am sure this was the only way, given the circumstances. There was a memorial and celebration of life service. I am not sure if I would have brought my son to a wake or funeral, but I did bring him to this. He needed to say goodbye too and learn this difficult lesson of life. I am just sorry that this happened to him at such a young age. Her grandchildren were there and so were his cousins. They are all very close in age. They played most of the time, like most children do. It came time to hold the service, I knew this would be the hardest part. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. So many people loved her. I hope she knew that. It broke my heart to see my son cry for someone he loved very much. The evening ended and people went home, including us. The grief will linger and our hearts will slowly mend.