Fuck It All It's Christmas
Updated: Mar 21
This post was original printed on Dec. 6, 2020. It caused much controversy and despair, pitting family members against one another; so on Christmas Day I quietly removed it, as Christmas is a day of Peace. However, this is my authentic experience and expression, my words and my form of healing, and I do not intend to hide its existence. This is something that happened and changed us, changed me.
Do be warned that choosing to read further is choosing to read a real life horror that occurred in my family. Some perceive that I shared this directly to hurt them, the likes of which has indeed severed some of my relationships. Other family members were willing to talk with me directly, to try and understand why I wrote something so dark, and has bonded us closer for it. It was unexpected and I am grateful.
In the aftermath of initial rage, contempt and acrimony, it is ultimately my choice to keep this public. Some people came forward to say they felt seen, they were able to share similar tragedies, and some even feel this can save a life. However you feel, make the conscious choice and take responsibility for reading further. It is unchanged.
If you or a loved one is feeling suicidal, please share this number 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
WARNING - This post contains graphic tragedy. Read at your own discretion and with an open mind.
December 4, 2020. I post a cryptic "No Content Today. Please Pray for my family."
And you did. You reached out, I was flooded with texts, phone calls, messages and more. Facebook was loaded with friends, family and fellow companions I've met along the way, each hoping all was well and sending me good vibes, prayers and well wishes. And I'm so very grateful for that.
But all was not well. I will tell you right now this post is about suicide and my own dark thoughts what happened. If you prefer to click off, this is a good place to do so. Rest assured it is not myself having suicidal thoughts, I'm merely touched by grief and loss.
This year has been a trial that has left no one untouched. It has shaken the world to its very core, and it's not finished with us yet. Somehow though, there still seems to be room for shock.
It started with a phone call around 9AM.
The house shook with an anguished "OH MY GOD." Followed by an equally gut-wrenching "JESUS CHRIST!"
Obviously something was wrong, but nothing prepared me for what it was. My kin had shot and killed himself that morning.
Before I go on - Everyone has their own personal thoughts and feelings on suicide. It's seen as shameful, and if you're religious then perhaps you feel this person is condemned. Society teaches us not to talk about it, to bury the details, to lie when it happens. It's a taboo thing, to take your own life.
But it's exactly that type of mindset that allows suicide to go unnoticed, to persevere in the underbelly of society. I'm sure even as your eyes read this, a family member is enraged with me for revealing the intimate details. But this is how I choose to cope. Perhaps they feel betrayed, and want this private. But it's not private. I refuse to bury this moment and pretend that this precious man just died a natural death. I won't hoard that toxic secret.
But for the sake of my family, I won't use names.
First all I heard was that he had shot himself. That was followed with, "Is he still alive?" And after a long pause... just a single, quiet, "No."
Shocked. Astounded. Of course I never expect this of anyone, but he was the last person I would have thought would do this. With such violence.
There isn't even room for denial when you get a call like that. There is no person cruel enough in the world to make up such a thing.
Then of course the questions flood in - Why? How? When? WHY??? Morbid curiosity makes us want to know every single detail - was he alone in the house? Who found him? Did he leave a note? Did he say why???
I don't have answers to all of these questions. I have my own speculations, my own perceptions.
Why? The obvious answer is that he was suffering. Such excruciating pain and agony, that ending it all was his only recourse.
I know he's been suffering from cancer for years. Last February his situation looked so bleak that his siblings all visited with him, and at the end of that trip he was in good spirits and his health even improved some.
He was on medication. We all hear the commercials, listing off potential side effects as though they are merely afterthoughts. "Thoughts of suicide" is cradled among them, squeezed beside benign things like dizziness and headaches.
But I don't blame the medication, even if it had anything to do with it. You see... the way a person kills themselves says a lot about their situation.
He didn't want to be saved. He wanted to end it.
Someone who thinks of suicide but wants to be saved may try something slow - like taking an overdose of pills, or sitting in their car until the gasses drown them. This gives them time if they change their mind, or if they are found.
But when someone takes a gun, and pulls that trigger - they just want it over with. Instantaneous.
And he was a marksman, so he knew what to do. He used to be a soldier. He fought and survived Vietnam. Which means those memories have been with him for over fifty years.
And this is where my thoughts get dark - I ask myself questions like did he crave that bullet? It seemed well thought out. He did it in the bathtub - which means he wanted to contain the mess he knew he'd leave behind. He did it two weeks after packing up and selling the house that he raised his family in - a family well past grown and old enough to start their own. The final check arrived only a week ago - which tells me he wanted to make sure his family was taken care of before he took care of himself.
There was gore. Which to me is a sign of vengeance - a pain so overwhelming that the stain of it is left behind and poisons anyone who comes in contact with it.
He loved Christmas - so why did he do this in December? To me, he couldn't go on another a day pretending he wanted to live. It has nothing to do with the date, and everything to do with having his affairs in order. I feel he must have been planning this a while - or at least knew, in the back of his mind, that he had a gun just in case.
Then, I wonder. I wonder did he wake up that morning unable to go on? Or was he up all night, wrestling with his inner demons, putting it off moment by moment until he couldn't wait any longer? Did he look forward to it? Will my family hate me for daring to ask that?
Did he make it a ritual? Did he choose what clothes to wear on his final day? Or did he go out in whatever he was wearing from the night before? And how did he do it? Was it against his temple? In his mouth? Under his chin?
---After I started writing this, I got more details---
He shot himself in the chest, his heart. The very first organ to form in utero. I imagine every single detail, the explosion of flesh and bone and blood.
He couldn't possibly have known that it would be his niece that would be the one to mop up his final moments, to see his insides splattered in the bathroom. Blood, membrane, the viscera that we forget contains our inner world.
What happens now? His torment is ended, but my family's has only just begun. He was found by his wife, who must have heard the shot. A memory that will haunt forever.
I don't believe in Hell. Not the Christian Hell - with flames and eternal torture. But I do believe that he was living in hell - and for how long? Was this a pain he cradled through his entire life? Either way, I don't believe he's suffering anymore.
My family has gathered where it happened - also concerning considering the state of the world pandemic. But when shock and grief ripple out like this, we must come together, we must make sense of the impossible thing that has occurred.
It's out of state, and I am not among them. I am praying for their health, both mental and physical. The emotional part will take longer, but I pray for that too.
I walked in the park that day, working as a Covid Compliance Officer for a media shoot. We were in the city shooting B-roll, and I was grateful for the surroundings of Central Park to be sad in. We were by the water, and ducks floated around in the water, birds flew over head. Nature always brings me solace.
A little squirrel hopped over to my bag, which was filled with masks, hand sanitizer, lysol wipes and more - like snack bars and of course, packaged nuts. That little squirrel was determined to get in there, and I was amused by its antics, feeling something softer than grief that morning.
So I opened the trail mix, and tossed a nut towards it. The squirrel took it up in its teeth and ate it on hind quarters, then ran around me, sniffing at the ground. It kept sniffing and perching, almost like a little dog. In front of that squirrel was a broken necklace, a carved wooden charm. I hadn't noticed it before, and it felt like the squirrel wanted me to find it. So I took a lysol wipe to lift it and clean it, thinking of my family and taking it as a sign that he was at peace.
Of course, once one squirrel had a nut, more raced over, and soon I was surrounded by squirrels with nuts in their mouths. It made me laugh, and cry, and warmed my numbness.
But it wasn't until I got home that I made this connection - when my family emptied their house, we took little knickknacks they were discarding. One of them was a carved wooden statuette, a little squirrel with a nut in its mouth.
So to me, he has found his peace. And I pray for my family that they can find their peace as well. Over time, with reflection, and with the connections to the loved ones we have still with us.
We never know what is truly in another person's mind, in their heart. We may not even truly know what lay within our own hearts, but we know where our mind goes, and the thoughts that play on loop. So pay attention to those thoughts, and if they are taunting and cruel, let them you know hear them - but don't put your belief in them.
Each one of us has a diverse world inside - a world that is shaped by the thoughts we think and choose to believe. We can't save everyone, but we can save ourselves a little bit every day by seeing our darkness, questioning our pain, learning from our suffering. It's something we all experience on unique levels, but it doesn't have to define us.
This has been a travesty for those he leaves behind. I only hope that we don't lock it up inside, that we don't let it eat away at us. It's why I have chosen to open up about this, and to share the most private kind of pain, a pain that in the past I would have buried....like a squirrel with its nut.
But locking it up is like drinking poison. And I'm not here to poison myself. I'm here to live, to breathe deeply and fully, and to express myself, whether that expression is beautiful or garish. When we bury things inside of us, they grow, determined to be found and be heard. So instead, I'm cracking this nut open, I'm allowing my raw pain to be seen, because it's valid. It's a part of me. And now that I've cracked it open, I can see the insides and allow them to heal - however long that takes.
Thank you for praying for my family. They will need them, and for a long time. This isn't the type of thing that heals overnight, but with continued love and presence perhaps we will come to be more honest with each other, more open, more seen.