…sness, even as we step out of an elevator having just watched our sister claw and kick our husband. There is no “perfect life.” No dream job. But we refuse to believe that; confronted with suicide, we understandably say things like Andy Spade, Kate’s husband, did: “It clearly wasn’t her.” He had to dissociate the act from the actor, its own kind of cliche.
So when depression or apathy emerges, we race to theorize about toxic secrets or “personal demons,” as Spade’s husband put it. We call it a “stupid thing, this selfish thing,” as Bourdain himself once described it. That’s a suicide we can absorb. The predictable one: the internal wrestling match. The Kurt Cobains and Marilyn Monroes. These people lost a “battle,” or their dark side “finally overtook” them. Their soul was in a kind of car accident. They lost control of the steering wheel.
But suicide is more subtle than that. Suicide is a kind of fatal exhaustion. It knocks on your door not as a monster but as a healer making a house call. We have to invite it in. Spade held that red scarf in her hands, Bourdain held that bathrobe belt in his, and both thought, “This will do nicely.” The coroners’ reports will not bother to note if their cheeks were tear-stained, but I think not.