Friday, September 26, 2008

warm summer day

John shot himself in the heart on a warm summer day. The lawns were freshly mowed and vivid green. The rose garden outside his window was in full bloom, a bouquet of yellow blossoms. The sun beat down against his leaded glass beveled window, but was blocked by his dark velvet drapes.

I know precisely what took place, but I have no idea what happened. We were all aware of his deteriorating mental state- his increased anxiety and his troubled sleep, so one could easily assume an impulsive move, but evidence has shown that not to be the case. Every door was carefully locked. His jewelry had been removed and stored away. And most compelling, a note was found after the event that had been written several days previously.

Now a bit of background. He had undergone invasive heart surgery the previous summer. The doctor pronounced the surgery a success, but the patient didn't fully recover. From that event, he became paranoid about his health. That late fall, he was hospitalized for observation. He stopped drinking and improved greatly, but then slipped back into his old ways. His psychiatrist, unaware of his alcohol consumption, tried to help and prescribed an anti-psychotic drug, Zyprexa. This drug is not intended to be mixed with alcohol, and several suicides have been linked to the combination. So the drug's culpability cannot be dismissed, especially considering the off brand bottle of found vodka next to his bed. This is why I say I know exactly what took place, but I have no idea what happened. And sadly, I never will.

I lied for over a year. I felt I had to, for John, for his partner Ken, for his friends, for myself, for the myth of all of us. I was at the house the following day, with the challenging task of making calls from his personal telephone ledger. Many people, upon hearing the news, asked if it was his heart. I said yes, and stopped at that. I thought I was protecting him, but I was lying.

In the end, he was in control of the facts and I was not. John shot himself in the heart on a warm summer day.


Willym said...

Jeff - this is a piece that touches me deeply. I too lost a friend to suicide two years ago this week. Ryan choose to leave us without warning but with everything in order. I still can't put down into words what happened though I know full well what took place.

For John and for Ryan: Lux aeterna luceat eis.

Doralong said...

You did what you thought was best for one you loved, in that attempt at protection there was no malice- you did what you thought was right at the time.

Jeff said...


Hugs to you on this difficult anniversary. I know precisely how it feels.


I thought I was helping, but I was only hiding.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I was the closest one to him, so I know exactly what took place.
It has been 27 months now, a great battle, taking great amounts of time going through EVERYTHING, afraid I might MISS something, "A Clue perhaps" as to why? Something to tell me why, anything to help me with why. Why did you leave me? Why did you leave all of us? Why did you leave so many people that loved you.
We have lots of answers now, clues to this and keys to unlock the secrets of a troubled man's mind. Some people get to a point where they are just not one with this earth anymore. So, I know exactly what took place. Sadly I will miss him, but he is now at peace where he wants and chose to be.

Miss Janey said...

How awful for everyone involve. Miss Janey offers her condolences.

Mister Jeff- you did tell the truth. It was his heart.

Ron said...

In a few months the fifth anniversary of Jim's suicide will come and pass. I would consider Jim a 2nd-ring friend - the ex of a close friend who stayed close to us after their break up.

Our paths would occasionally cross at social events, or I'd drop in to see him at his gallery just blocks from my office. The morning I received news of his suicide changed something in me. Jim seemed to be so very, very successful in his life, however nothing could make him happy.

He created beautiful things and spaces, however he couldn't create peace of mind. I still miss him.

Jim chose to end his life the very same way my grand father ended his life 25 years ago - by hanging.

Both of these men chose how they would leave this earth, they just didn't understand, nor care about the void and unanswered questions left behind.

rptrcub said...

Jeff, I'm sorry to be late on this for my condolences considering I went through this earlier in the summer and you gave me very sage advice.

Birdie said...

I shed tears for each of you having been left behind to deal with this. Thirty-seven years after my father's suicide, I still mourn. It is a part of me, he is a part of me, and because I choose to live I will never really understand. We bond in our loss, and all we can really say is, "Me too."

Almost a year after your post, years after the event, I know you still feel it. Me too.

Anonymous said...

I had dinner with John two nights before he took his life. He had asked me to come over because he didn't want to be alone. We talked and laughed and told stories. We then took a long drive in one of his beloved Rolls-Royces. I drove since even though it was a very relaxing evening, his nerves were still fragile. It had been a very difficult few days for him. He had written me a note the day before but I did not understand. He just asked me to keep it with me. I look at his photo on my desk every day and think of him often. I take that note out from time to time too. He was an amazing person. I miss him.

Gary said...

Jeff, I'm so sorry. I wish I could say it gets better, but it doesn't, really; it just sort of hurts a little less. But just sort of, and just a little.
I have another name to add to this terrible, terrible list. Tony. He was beautiful, my first boyfriend, a bit troubled. I went off to school thinking I'd get a good job and we could get some help. The separation was too long and he couldn't take it. No answers, no clues, no (brilliant!) idea of a bowling night or equivalent, just... loss. You're right, Jeff, it was his heart -- and mine.
John, Ryan, Jim, Ron's grandfather, Birdie's father, and Tony. May they rest in peace.

Scott Abel said...

Beautiful and sad at the same time. An excellent piece, Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

Scott Abel