Ken, my son who lived with me, killed himself the day after Christmas. I’m still in shock and disbelief. I’ll write more later..
When I worked at Newington Veteran’s Hospital as a psychiatric nurse, one of my duties was to teach classes on suicide to medical personnel—nurses, interns, aides, and students. I informed them that those who were serious about ending their lives were often secretive about their intent. And that the male’s method of suicide was usually more lethal than the female’s. Guns or hanging vs. drugs or self-mutilation. I advised them of warning signs: withdrawal, change in personality, loss of interest in most activities, looking depressed, poor work or school performance, change in sleep patterns, alcohol/drug abuse, talking about death or suicide, careless in appearance.
Then my husband and I retired and moved from Connecticut to Missouri. Chris had separated from the navy, was married, living in Texas; Scott, divorced, was in the Air Force in California; Ken was working at a television station in Connecticut and John, married, a recent survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, was working as a computer analyst in Connecticut. Separated and scattered, we were all involved in our own interests. We communicated by phone, internet and regular mail.I took my retirement as an opportunity to seriously follow my life’s dream—writing. I took a few creative writing classes at a local university and then some online.After Scott separated from the Air Force, he lived with Forrest and me while pursuing a degree in computer science. Forrest became a master gardener and his interest turned to our yard. I spent my time writing poems. After graduation, Scott took a job at Hallmark in Kansas City.
About that time, a few physical problems I had worsened and I began thinking about the uncertainty of life. I started a memoir about me and our family for my sons to read after my death. I always regretted that I hadn’t asked my parents for more information about themselves. I know very little about my ancestors. A bonus, for me, in the writing was that going back and looking at my life in retrospect changed my perspective about me, the family and life in general.
I was involved in my writing project and welcoming John and his family who’d just arrived from Connecticut for a visit when a call came from Scott. He’d driven himself to a hospital in K C because he was suicidal. I knew he’d been depressed and had even overdosed (that’s another story for another time). A few months before his call, we’d brought him to Springfield and admitted him to a hospital here. He was discharged after a few days. Forrest, Scott and I then looked for a house for him here. I wanted him close so I could keep an eye on him. I gave earnest money on a house he liked, but he went back to KC and as far as I knew, he was doing fine. I was keeping in contact with him closely by email and by phone and had no idea he was suicidal.
After the call came, Forrest and I drove to KC to see Scott in the hospital. We boarded his cats and took care of some other business for him, stayed overnight and saw him again next morning before returning to Springfield to be with John and his family. I’d planned on returning to KC after John left, but a few days later, Scott was discharged from the hospital and went back to work. I thought he was doing fine. Two days before he shot himself, he talked to me about plans he had for buying a house and the new vet he’d found for his cats.
Thirteen years later, I still can’t watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Scott’s favorite Christmas holiday movie, look at his photos, or think about him for too long. I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I, who should have known, did not recognize the warning signs that my son was in trouble. I should have been more alert, not so distracted by my writing and other things that were going on. I’ve learned, too late, to treat each moment as if it was the only moment, and to give it all I have.
After Scott’s death, my heart couldn’t finish my memoir. Sadly, instead, I published a memoir in memory of Scott, and, later, one for John who died of colon cancer.
How beautiful and sacred life is! And how fragile! We can’t afford to be careless. I must live with my inattention for the rest of my life and suffer the resulting heartache.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (tamu.uloop.com)
She’s 10, a red mini-poodle, on the small side. She joined our family last Friday after a long flight that lasted all day, with two lay-overs. She was tired and scared when she arrived. My joy at having her was tempered by the knowledge that she was ripped from her other family and the only world she’d ever known to be with me. I’m humbled and honored to be her new mother and I’ll do all in my power to make her comfortable and happy.
She’s eating well, drinking water and going outside to potty. She does a happy dance (twirls in circles) when she’s excited, especially when she knows she’s going to get her thyroid pill wrapped in a piece of cheese. She was very nervous about the cats at first; and though she’s still not interacting with them, their presence in the room no longer makes her shake. She mostly ignores them.
She’s a sweet, mild-mannered little soul and I love her already.
I sit in bed, computer on my lap, TV on. We had a severe storm earlier with high winds. The lights blinked for a few seconds and I looked for the flashlight, but didn’t need it after all.
This is the day Audrey was supposed to arrive. Her bed I ordered from Amazon arrived a week ago. I took it out of the box and it’s been waiting. How many times did I imagine her in it? And the pretty collar?
The bed is still empty. And it will never hold Audrey girl.
It’s amazing how I bonded with her having never seen her face to face. It’s much like I felt when I carried my children. You imagine and plan and wait. I’m doing a kind of grieving.
Linda said she would send me some one else instead. She also broke her foot stumbling over a cat and can’t take another to the airport right away, so there will be another wait.
It’s all right. I don’t have any feelings for a new one right now. I need to say goodbye to Audrey in my mind, though I know she’ll always be in my heart.