From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jack Carroll)
Subject: Re: Suicide and Depression
Date: 26 Aug 1995 02:32:01 -0400
Kristine (email@example.com) wrote:
: My sister and I would like to share a part of our lives regarding our
: brother. He was incredibly beautiful, bright, successful and loving.
: But exactly two months ago, he decided to end his life and did just
: that. Each day that passes only seems to make us miss him more.
: We love our brother so much and are having a really hard time
: understanding why this happened. If anyone out there has experienced
: something related to this or has some words of encouragement, we would
: love to hear from you.
In the past I made three serious attempts at suicide, two of which
required hospitalization. I'm not sure, however, that any observations
about that are germane to being one of the ones left behind.
Tom was my roommate for thirteen years. He attempted to kill himself by
taking a drug overdose and following it up with a copious amount of
alcohol. He failed to kill himself immediately, however he died from an
attack of menangitis which ensued right after that.
We were never lovers, never even had sex. But we had developed a very
intense, extremely intimate relationship over those years and we lived
through many very difficult times, including the AIDS epidemic which
killed all of my friends and ultimately all of his.
Tom was a goodlooking, funny, troubled, winning, totally feckless,
endearing, self-hating, generous person. He was in many ways a
relentless engine of destruction.
I finally had to move out three months before his death. He had killed
our relationship, willfully and gratuitously it seemed. I had to leave
a home I loved; one which was convenient to my best friend, who I was
taking care of as he died of AIDS. Tom made one of the worst times in
my life a living hell. And then he killed himself not long after I left.
That was July, 1987. Everyone else I know who died is fast and safely
asleep, Tom is still here. And we are getting better together. I hated
him for what I felt he did to me. Then I hated him for what he did
to himself. Then I hated his sister for not helping me help him. I
hated his friends who actively encouraged every weak impulse he had.
And I began to despise the person I was who had been dealing dope with
him and a doing a good many other things ephemistically called "life in the
fast lane" with him.
I straightened out the material part of my life, his sister vanished
after blaming me for his death, and his friends died. And Tom was dead.
Over the past eight years I've gone back and forth with myself: forgiving
myself for what I was, for what I didn't do or know; accepting some very
grotesque parts of my past; admitting to some horrendous hurts I would
rather have died than own as mine; struggling through five years as the
carepartner one friend after another as they perished.
In the midst of all this Tom became more and more present, and quite
unbidden. I did not understand why. But he entered my thoughts more and
more, came to mind in quiet moments, and I was too exhausted or sometimes
too at peace to be bothered to push his memory away.
I never had any mystical experience about my own life, never a flash that
explained it or made it seem coherent, but what happened over time was
that a new feeling, which I can only rather inadequately describe as
"generosity" began pervade my feelings. It encompassed everything
equally, which is what made it feel most strange -- it seemed to color the
entire stream of my life from the distant past to the present -- it
excused nothing, but was willing to own it all and without regret.
Quite unexpectedly one day I was dumbfounded to realize that I cherished
Tom. Nothing about Tom can ever change, but I love him very deeply. It
took many years of struggling with the overwhelming presence of death and
with my own convoluted past and emotions to be willing to embrace all of
myself; then it became so clear that poor, weak, wonderful, mysterious
Tom was not so hard to understand after all.
Tom's history is Tom's history; that cannot change. But I love Tom very
much, as he was and as he is. This complicated man still lives in me and
I do not regret it. Sometimes when I think I didn't understand him it is
ironically like finding a twin.
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