Suicide By Death
How many times have you thought about killing yourself? One, two, ten? Every single day? It must have crossed your mind at some point. Wishing you were dead or had never been born, are both suicidal thoughts by any other name. So, if you said you've never once attempted suicide or at least thought about it— you’re lying to yourself. Suffering, pain, and doubt were the first things many of us learned; so why wouldn’t we at some point want to wish ourselves dead? With all the pressures in life and sundry setbacks along the way, for many, “checking out” a little earlier than scheduled seems like a practical alternative.
Many have convinced themselves that there are no rainbows left in the sky, and the greener grass on the other side does not exist. Others lost someone so close it seemed pointless to go on without them. Regrettably, everything that has been cited is reason enough for some to end their life. But wait, there is one more: the ultimate and final gotcha. Their shift was done; it was time for someone else to take over. Some will read this and know what I mean.
I have had my fair share of suicides in my life: distant relatives, friends, and acquaintances. One hit too close to home: the death of my sister. It was very painful and came without warning, and I learned the hard way about suicide first hand. I recently turned sixty and at a point in life when people around my age group are dropping like flies. Some of them were sick and dying, and the rest are buying Centrum Silver by the case to prolong the inevitable. But suicide, that's a whole new ballgame.
I used to believe suicide was a coward’s way out, and others continue to share that sentiment. My sister’s death put me on a path of a deeper understanding, and I hope to shed light on this touchy subject.
I thought the odds were beaten and deceived myself into thinking lightning never strikes twice, but sadly it struck again; this time, it was my niece. If I had enough cynical presence of mind, I would have bought a lottery ticket. The truth is, I would have sawed off my arm with a dull blade to have been able to talk them out of it. But, in reality, and as hell-bent as they were, there were no blades dull enough to stop them, and alas, I don’t own a time machine.
Most will leave a dramatic note or sometimes a voice recording for loved ones. In my sister's case, she wrote three letters. One for whoever found her (she went to a nearby lake and shot herself in the chest). The second was for the police, exonerating her spouse for having anything to do with it. The third was to her husband that included a lot of crap —most of it lies. “I’ll always love you,”—she didn’t. “I didn’t mean to do this,”—yes, you did. “Take care of the kids,”—he did not. She left behind a little girl, five, and a boy, seven. Photos of them surrounded her body, and some lay in her lap. I suppose she thought the world would be better off without her, when in fact, it isn’t. Whatever pain she suffered was over in an instant, for the rest of us, it lingers for a lifetime, and at that moment when she blew her heart to smithereens, a piece of mine went with it. I miss her every day.
In death, and I suppose other emotional trauma, the experts say most experience five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When there is a suicide, I believe the first three come all at once, and bargaining doesn't even count. How could it? And last on the list is acceptance. That's a toughie.
Some have questioned the title, Suicide by Death. At first, I thought it was cute —sort of an artsy thing, but in the back of my mind, I knew what it meant. For anyone who saw the movie Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, near the end Mr. Spock rescues the ship but sacrifices his life. Captain Kirk runs to Spock to save him and tries to open a fuel chamber. Dr. McCoy, “Bones,” said it would flood the compartment with radiation, and he and Scotty restrained the captain. Kirk struggled to free himself and murmured, “He'll die.” Scotty replied in his thick, Scottish accent, said, “Sir, he's dead already.”
He wasn't dead yet and had enough time to share a personal moment with Kirk, but the fact remained that Spock was on his way out; death only needed to catch up.
Folks rarely pick up a gun and blow their brains out on a whim. It takes an amount of planning. And so it begins. You have already committed suicide in your mind; it simply needs to be followed up with a bullet, noose, jump off a skyscraper or whatever; then death's bitter door swings wide open and welcomes you.
It is a safe bet that almost everyone has had to deal with suicide in their lives, and if you haven’t, you'll just have to wait your turn.
My book, Suicide by Death, is not intended to be a self-help guide, though it might be. It is a fictional novel based on true events in and around my life and the lives of others. The story and its characters are broken and jagged, the language is raw, but it is real. Heck, darn and oh shoot, don't seem to have the same punch as their crude counterparts, so if you are offended, try to get over it; the message is far greater than the language.
I’d love to hear your thoughts: www.MarkAnthonyWaters.com
“Do not just slay your demons,
dissect them and find what they’ve been feeding on.”
The Man Frozen in Time
At midnight, the grandfather clock announced the time. It was old, worn and grossly out-of-tune, but never missed a beat.
Ding, dong, — clang. It repeated itself twelve times representing each hour.
Trying to compete with the noise, the young mother’s wailing cries echoed throughout the house.
“Curtis! Wake up! My water broke!”
Startled, her husband woke from a deep, restful sleep. The sound of the clock with its irritating melody, combined with yells from his wife, confused him in his state of absolute tranquility. In the near dark, he tried to untangle himself from the covers to rescue whatever was in distress. Instead, he fell to the floor with a heavy thunk.
She’d been awake for a while and spent the time cleaning herself, then gathered a few toiletries from the bathroom.
With the continued dinging, donging and clanging, she yelled again.
“Curtis! Did you hear me?”
Unscathed, other than his pride, he mumbled, “Dammit to hell. Again? What? What is it? Another false alarm?”
He conjured a deep, surprised response while lying on the floor.
“What do you mean your water broke?”
Panicked, she flipped on the glaring bedroom light and packed a small leather suitcase.
“The baby’s coming. We have to get to the hospital… now!”
Cinderella thought she had it tough, this was no match.
The clock went silent, and Curtis lifted himself from the floor, jumping on one foot attempting to put on his pants… hiding and stifling a yawn so she wouldn’t see. Curtis scratched his head in confusion, though he shouldn’t be —it had been this way the entire length of the pregnancy; one problem after another. Groggy, he staggered around to find a shirt, socks, and shoes.
Digging through the dresser, he said, “I thought you weren’t due until July.”
Worried and concerned, she reached for her husband’s hand. Swollen with a baby and in pain, took a moment and dropped to her knees. Curtis stood by his wife. She let go of his hand, clasped hers together and prayed.
“Please, Lord, don’t let the baby come too early.”
Ignoring her prayers, he blurted out, “Have you seen my tie?”
Forgoing her sincere prayer, she went from the holiness of a saint to a woman from the underworld in two seconds flat.
“Forget the damn tie!”
She reached for the dresser and pulled herself up from the floor and returned to her small suitcase, snapped it shut and waddled toward the door.
“We have to go.”
This whole ordeal seemed like a sign of things to come for the yet unborn child.
They arrived at the hospital within minutes and rushed her to delivery. Her husband was at her side but whisked away and ordered to the waiting room.
In those days, women’s rights were not a topic, and the hospital delivery room was a metaphor for that sentiment. It was cruel at best, barbaric at worst. Fathers were never allowed in or near the delivery room. Any communication about the progress was only back and forth communication with an orderly or nurse. The doctors were gods and never questioned, and the patient intuitively remained subservient.
All the humiliation and embarrassment young women went through to have a baby, almost made motherhood not worth the trade. At most hospitals, there is a psych ward somewhere around, and I’m certain many of these new mothers got to spend a few days there.
After several hours of labor, it was time. The baby was as eager to come out as much as the mother was to keep it in.
The doctor was in position and gave the final order.
She strained and screamed so loud that her husband heard the cries all the way down in the waiting room. He paced back and forth and was biting his fingernails down to the nub. The screaming stopped, and all he heard was an unnerving silence —followed with more nail biting.
The baby saw its first ray of light, but lifeless.
“We have a blue baby!” cried a nurse.
The doctor cut the cord and took the infant over to a nearby warmer and did a quick assessment, swept the mouth and suctioned the nostrils. He removed his surgical gloves, and like rubber bands, shot them into a wastebasket.
“That’s all I can do. Nurse, call me if anything changes.”
“Yes, doctor. We will get the mother ready to move.”
“Good. And you,” — pointing to an orderly — “clean up this mess.”
The doctor glared at him.
“Sorry. Yes, doctor.”
As soon as the doctor left, a nurse muttered, “What an asshole.”
After some tense moments, the baby’s skin tone returned to normal, then the nurse offered comforting news.
“Don’t worry, everything is fine. The cord may have gotten tangled around the neck.”
An aide leaned in close to the new mother and added, “He may be a jerk, but he wouldn’t have left if there was a problem.”
Another nurse finished cleaning the newborn, and the mother asked, “May I hold my baby?”
“In a few minutes. I need to dress and wrap her.”
“Yes, Mrs. Reynolds, you had a little girl.”
That was the first time she got the news the baby was a female.
The smell of ether lingered, and Mrs. Reynolds was still woozy from its effect and laid flat on blood-stained bedding. The nurse fluffed her pillow then placed the baby on her chest.
“Be careful, she’s delicate and weak. You can have a few minutes, then we have to take her away.”
She cradled and gently stroked her hair, then whispered, “Hello, Clair. Happy birthday.”
Two of the nurses were mothers themselves and shared a moment of joy with Mrs. Reynolds, but that joy was soon interrupted. While the nurses were celebrating, a tech entered the delivery room with some test results, and it revealed the baby was Rh incompatible, meaning the newborn’s blood type was positive; the mother’s, negative. It can be a lethal cocktail.
Everyone was quick into action, including the doctor who returned to handle this emergency. Treatment options were limited in those days, and many newborns died because of it. Clair showed symptoms of anemia and was becoming jaundice. To avoid further damage, the doctor ordered a blood transfusion and took Clair away from her mother. Two hours later, they sent Clair to another room for the procedure. Not a pleasant way to start day one.
With the transfusion complete, all that remained was an empty bottle of blood still hanging above the young patient. The IV needle was removed leaving a few drops of blood behind on her tiny arm.
Clair got introduced to the world with little fanfare, but came a few weeks early, and by all standards in Nineteen-fifty-seven was premature.
She remained in critical condition for several days, and her chances of making it out of the hospital remained thin. The troubles she endured, literally began at birth, but fought and won her first of many battles to come. She learned as an infant the skills to survive, and it would be those skills Clair employed for the years that lie ahead.
The best picture, “Around the World in Eighty Days" got the Hollywood nod, and Elvis Presley was “all shook up” the year Clair was born. The best picture and top song seemed symbolic for what was to become her life. She was shaken emotionally and instead of an eighty-day trip; her resolve took many years.
Clair was an only child, except for her brother.
She had an upbringing like everyone else; nice house in a nice neighborhood, on a street with other nice houses with other nice neighbors. But in silence, there was an abundance of torment from a distant and domineering father, and an arrogant, head stuck in the sand mother. Three months after she came home from the hospital, it wasn’t long before the “new car smell” began to wane.
Her father was an insurance salesman; mother stayed at home and treated her like an interruption and nothing more. The relationship with her mother was strained even as a young girl, and she never understood why. Psychologists might argue it was jealousy. Any attention Clair’s father had for his wife, shifted away and placed on a stranger. Shortly after birth, an aunt was overheard saying that her father adored her and told everyone he knew that she looked like a little doll. To counter the adoration, her mother reminded Clair many times she was “an accident,” which was a polite way of saying “not wanted.” The affection her father once had, soon wore thin; she felt more like a pet than his daughter, but he still thought it was cute when she learned to walk and talk.
Years later Clair commented, “Yeah, like a trained parrot.”
Clair had an older brother who had quite the reputation with the ladies, some younger than Clair. Edward was spawned by Satan himself, but to say he was evil, would have been a compliment; he was beyond evil.
Edward was fourteen and remained out in the world, ‘feeling his oats’ as some would say. Her idiot parents weren’t aware of his ‘goings on,’ but heard rumors. At eight years old, Clair would be his next victim. She became part of the nourishment from his wicked feed trough and a target of his sick love interests.