My brother-in-law killed himself Tuesday afternoon.
He did it in his van, in a small plaza parking lot.
He took some pills, and then lit a small, home made BBQ on the floor in the back.
Soon after, he went for the Big Sleep.
Someone must have called 911, because he ended up in the hospital, where they worked on him for over an hour.
His obit says he died suddenly, peacefully.
I wouldn’t call it peaceful.
Suicide is violent.
“He did it, didn’t he?”, my sister-in-law said when she saw the cops at her door.
They say successful suiciders try 8 to 25 times, on average. 70% of them are white males, most older. Since he matches the last two stats, I shudder to think of the other times he tried. I knew of only one other, last April.
Did you know it’s illegal to attempt suicide?
Images flash in my mind of him holding and hugging my children. Fresh ones.
Sounds of his voice thanking me profusely for helping him with his new job at my company echo eerily in my head. Haunting ones.
Wondering why anyone would go to the dentist (who scared the hell out of him) in the morning, only to polish himself off in the afternoon.
Wondering what the hell he was thinking when he decided to head out to the plaza. Wondering what his last thought was.
Wondering if he thought about any of the good things in his life. His wife, his daughter, my family, his new job, his expensive condo, his rags to riches story.
Wondering if we would have become better friends if he continued working at our company.
Wondering if we know anything about what bubbles beneath the surface of our closest family and friends. I doubt it.
I told others of his suicide. Both had their own tales of self-killers they knew. From this week.
We don’t read their “died suddenly” stories anywhere. Are we so ashamed or embarrassed? Why?
The first family dinner a couple of days later was funny. His name barely came up at all. Would it have been wrong to stand up and scream “What the hell is wrong with you people? Aren’t we going to talk about him at all?” I guess no one wanted to crack the ice, before it thickened and entombed his now finished life.
All those birthday parties he’s going to miss. All those Saturday morning coffee and donut visits he won’t be at. All those current event conversations we won’t have. All the lottery pools he won’t be in. All the holes in our lives he’s left.
Soon, anger and guilt will subside into sadness, compassion, and forgiveness. Final letters found will hardly answer the endless questions that we’d all like to drill him with. The what-ifs, the what-could-I-have-dones, the why-didn’t-he-want-helps will all vanish.
All that’s left is to pick up the pieces and carry on.
Because a bomb went off.