On The Eve Of Death
By Connie Mish
BOSTON, October 5, 2012
Around the time of my sweet mother’s 56th birthday, her phone rang. A voice, once forgotten, came through loud and clear with questions of her happiness and inquiries as to the success of their daughter they had 34 years prior. Nothing like getting a strange emotional call from an ex husband to throw your head for a little loop. His voice was different from how she remembered. The voice was heartfelt and came from a place of knowing ones mortality. “You aren’t going to do anything stupid are you?” were the last words she spoke to him, on the eve of his death.
A couple of years prior, I was pregnant with my daughter and my father had disowned me for making the choice of having her, against his wishes of wanting me to have an abortion. I’m a pro-life individual and I will always choose my children over anything or anyone else. I chose my daughter, over my father, on that fateful day and would make the same choice a million times over. I knew my father well enough to know that he’d come around if given some space and time. After some time had elapsed, I reached out to him in an effort to console his fears, to no avail. He was nowhere to be found. I began to ask questions, scour land ownership records and the internet. Finally, in May of this year (2012) I ran across a police bulletin with his name in an online search. It was terrible news, but this bulletin was from a completely different state so I felt the chances of it being him were quite low. Just to be sure, I took the article to work the next day and called the reporting Sheriff’s department. The woman on the other end of the phone began describing the gruesome tale of a 58-year-old man who had ridden a bicycle 6 miles out-of-town, up a logging road and out to the edge of a cliff where he sat down, overlooking a valley, and placed a .45 caliber handgun to his chin and pulled the trigger. By the time she got to the point of verifying his birth date, I could hardly breathe.
Sitting in my downtown Boston office, with the door shut, I listened as my father’s description, prior address, and birth date fell into place like the ticking of the last three seconds prior to a bomb exploding inside my chest. The possibility of that one sentence on a police log, in a far off state, being my father couldn’t begin to prepare me for the devastating emotion of it actually being him and what was to follow.
A million thoughts raced through my head as I learned that no one had claimed his body or possessions after nearly a year and half. He had abandoned all of his relationships throughout his life and when it came down to the end, he had no one. No one except the daughter he had disowned.
In the end I was left without my father and to clean up all the property and damaged relationships he left behind. I notified his brother and his estranged other daughter, whom I had never met, as well as the State department’s that took over the administration of his estate. In all this, I regressed as a person and as a professional. Overjoyed to have found a sister, I learned quickly that she is not the caliber of individual I would know otherwise and she has since signed over full legal guardianship of her 12-year-old son to me. That’s a whole other story….
They say God works in mysterious ways and it is that thought that keeps me driving forward. I have learned a lot over this past 5 months and I see more beauty and opportunity in life than I ever have. There have been times in my life where I have thought the world would be a better place without me in it. Having endured this loss, there is no pain I wouldn’t endure to save my children from what I have gone through, in the wake of my father’s suicide.
October 4, 2012 marked the 2nd anniversary of my father’s suicide. I’m not saying poor me, but it is a significant event in my life, much like getting married, buying my home, having my children, or accepting legal guardianship of my nephew. The difference is that this is sad as opposed to happy. My goal in writing about this is not to burden anyone with my grief or loss but to provide a glint of perspective for those who have considered suicide themselves and a story with which others, who have walked my path, can relate. Inspiration is truly a thought away and there are people who love and depend upon you, even though you may not feel it each day.
Whether it’s the anniversary of the death of someone you were close to, the time leading up to an expected death, or thoughts of worthlessness are running through your head, these times can be some of the most trying times in our lives. Others have walked in our shoes and come out on the other side more knowledgeable and stronger.
Death is a topic often times not discussed and even frowned upon. The discomfort of making someone more upset when they are already grieving, not having the tools to fix or comfort them, or even trying not to burden others with negativity, if you have recently lost someone, are a few reasons.
What people don’t understand is that death is important to talk about for a variety of reasons; the survivors need to talk about it as a part of their healing process and those who are feeling like they have reached the end of their rope and are ready to let go and give up on life need to understand the implications of their actions on others. If we don’t talk about the pain then we cannot help prevent suicide, and healing from a death takes infinitely longer.
If you have a story about you or someone you know who is struggling or has overcome the suicide of a loved one, please send me your comments on how its affected their life and/or the lives of those around them. I look forward to hearing them!
You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org