Hello, this is really long and I appreciate anyone who reads and comments. If you think suicide is stupid or have something negative to say, even a pun, please don’t post. I’m begging you. Take the high road. Skip to the end if you don’t want to read. I don’t have a lot of friends to talk to and I know people here have posted lots of personal stories which I rarely do, so please give me a chance.
January 11th, 2010 I lost my mom to suicide. She was 61 (I’m only 22). My mom has always had a difficult, stressful life and had been depressed since childhood. She began to lose her hearing around 30 and was wearing two hearing aids for at least 15 years. She was a very succesful doctor and all around wonderful person; she was commited to helping people with HIV/AIDS.
My mom was kind of a rebel/radical person and this wasn’t always welcomed, so she lost jobs often. She would tell us that she left willingly, or that her boss was unethical or something, or simply tell us nothing and we would find out later that she’d been fired. She lived in three different states since 2004 and had maybe a dozen jobs, once three jobs at once.
But she only lived in the last state–Iowa–for six weeks. Her hearing had been getting worse and worse, she couldn’t hear her patients and she felt they thought she was incompetent and didn’t respect her. They thought she wasn’t listening. She was lost at meetings when she couldn’t hear. She was certain she would be fired, and she became terrified that soon she wouldn’t be able to work or live on her own.
I last saw my mom December 26th, 2009 on a miserable family get together in D.C. She was so thin and barely ate a thing the whole trip. She was like a ghost; we’d be in the same room but we wouldn’t communicate. She was in her own world.
The week before she died, every conversation I initiated with her was cut short. We wouldn’t talk for more than a few minutes before she would say “Okay, well I’m gonna go now.” One time I called her around 8pm and she said she was sleeping - my mom never napped or slept that early.
My last phone conversation with her was Saturday, January 9th:
me: Mom, you’ve been acting weird lately.
Mom: pause. I know, I have.
Me: Is everything okay?
Mom: pause. No. It’s not okay. Work isn’t going well, I don’t know if I can keep this job.
Me: I can’t remember what I said; maybe something generic. I’d had this talk with my mom a couple times before, but I’d never in my life heard her sound so utterly down and defeated. I couldn’t form words; I was too busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
Mom: Jackey, I’m gonna go now. But always remember that no matter what happens, I love you very much.
Me: Intense frown. wtf? (in strange voice): Of course, I love you too mom.
Mom: Okay. Bye.
I was dazed. In a trance - my brother commited suicide in 1999 when I was 11, and there was literally no warning sign. It was so random that when my sister and I saw him in his room lying face down on the floor with his pants pulled down and a pile of puke next to his mouth, we thought nothing of it. Just thought he’d gotten sick and napped. Seriously.
But that’s how suicide is. It’s so rare, so extreme that it never really occurs to you. It’s not something that most people consider possible of people they think they know so well.
I relayed the news to my boyfriend, who I’d been updating on my mom’s weirdness. I said, trying to make light: “I know she’s having a really hard time, but geez, don’t kill yourself (chuckle).” Then a lightbulb went off–never in my life had I considered my mom capable of suicide. She was the strongest, most confident, determined person I knew. I’d only seen her cry a few times. At her funeral, an old friend called her the socialist Wonderwoman
Anyway. I immediately froze and asked in my head: “Would mom ever kill herself?” I pondered, and I dismissed the idea as quickly as it came. “No. She would never do that to us.” It was as simple as that. And that’s what most people think, that’s why it’s so unpreventable most of the time. We just think that people will or should always put others first and be strong for them, but sometimes it’s just not possible. So I made plans in my head to call my mom the next day and let her know I’d be visiting this coming Thursday. I knew she needed me and I didn’t want her to be alone.
But Monday, my very first day of spring semester after leaving my first class and work, I got the call. Fast forward.
Anyway. The real reason I’m posting this is because something new came up. My mom had a foster son from Rwanda named Emmanuel. He somehow didn’t know she died until a few days ago; he’d been worried about my mom so Googled her when he couldn’t get in touch and found her obit. Then, he immediately finds my sister on FB; they get to talking and he relays this info to her:
“Yes, I was in the US Dec 2009-Jan 16, 2010, I went to Boston, Houston and New Orleans and wanted very much to visit Mom so she can meet her inlaw (my wife). By that time, Lydie my wife was pregnant and I remember mom saying she’s counting on me for her first grand-child…I wanted her to hope for more since this was underway. I wanted to visit her in Iowa but she insisted that I do not come, that she was in a mess and thought her life was finished. I wanted to go any way but did not have the address.”
… her life was finished? What the fuck? That’s not all, either. She basically told him in so many words that she was going to kill herself, and it took him five months to put the pieces together/analyze that? He’s a smart guy. Whatever. I guess my family having first experience with suicide and mental illnesses makes the signs much more obvious to us. But seriously, knowing that she had no terminal illness, what else could “my life is finished” possibly mean? Didn’t he ask?
A few months earlier, my mom had told him she’d become “isolated and demoralized.” She’d been chronicling her downfall to him and he couldn’t put the idea of suicide together. And he got in touch with my sister the same day he found the obit, so he’s clearly connected and Internet savvy.
WHATEVER. It’s not his fault, of course, and the guy is a sweet kid who took my mom’s birthday as his own and calls us his sisters. I can’t bring myself to talk to him. I don’t know what to do or how to feel, but I’m not okay with it. Do you guys know how you would feel? Or what’s your knee-jerk reaction, at least? Share personal experiences with suicide; it’d really help me to know I’m not the only one with a crazy family/friends.
If anyone’s curious I’ll post what her suicide note said and her method and such later. Thanks again for reading all two of you <3