Friday, November 7, 2014


My sister's father in law ended his life a few days ago. He told his wife that he was going on a walk. She asked when he wanted supper and he told her maybe don't cook tonight. Then he drove from Sonoma to San Francisco, called the police, and put a gun to his head.

In February he bought the gun. In May, at the end of my visit, he surprised me with a huge hug after having taken me aside for a chat, which in hindsight I recognize it for what it was. In August he began trying to talk to his wife about how to take care of their finances; he was very well off but she had a habit of spending all that she had when he met her. Last week the news reported about a young woman with terminal cancer who elected to kill herself rather than be suffer a slow and debilitating death. A few days ago he gave my sister an even bigger than normal hug, cuddled his grandson for also a long time, and that was it.

My sister, SB and I all have had friends who have committed suicide. Each time, we replayed all sorts of seemingly insignificant details in our heads and wondered what we could have done to change things. SB still wonders if not having that $100 in his wallet to loan his friend set him over the edge. I blame myself for somehow not knowing how Mike was feeling even though he was 14000km away. And now C wonders if she could have said anything. Maybe if she had told Jim that she loved him more strongly...

This is what I told her, small comfort that it was. When I met Jim, he reminded me a lot of my foster grandfather, Stan. Stan was 82 years old and sharp as a tack. Over the years I realized that being of sound mind while your body became unsound was not a blessing. While I preferred hanging out with Stan because he could talk to me about everything, unlike my Grandma who was probably nuts long before she was old, I became aware that sharp minded Stan was all too aware that he was in decline. On several occasions he told me that he was tired. He wasn't depressed in the typical sense, but he wasn't all that happy. His body betrayed him constantly. He was exhausted just getting out of the car so those wonderful cruises that he used to take were a thing of the past. His friends were almost all dead. He was losing his sight and hearing no matter how much he still had to share, so when he got sick, he never tried to get better. He died of a cold but really, he died because he didn't want to live anymore.

In his note, which he had given a friend to deliver, Jim said that he was tired. He was sorry that he never got to do those things that he had wanted to do, but he couldn't find the motivation. He was done.

1 comment:

H Miller said...

I am very sorry for your loss. It really sucks.