Friday

Suicide

On Wednesday Jay jumped off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos, New Mexico. My son called me yesterday. I thought he was calling about my not showing up at his house after the fire. I couldn't remember if I had texted him that I was not coming. After a moment of chit-chat about the fire, I could tell by his voice that something was wrong. When I asked him, he told me he got a call from the sheriff in NM telling him that Jay was dead. It did not register in my mind at first. He repeated. I was surprised by my response. No, no, no, no, no! I felt ashamed that my response was not for comforting my son. I wondered if it had been his friend and not a cousin if I would have reacted differently

Jay was an untreated bipolar. I recall discussing the subject with him some years ago. He had no use for psychiatrists. He was once my son's room mate. He admired his brilliant mind and had great conversations with him on philosophy and other things way beyond me. One time while we stayed up half the night talking while the household slept. I was fascinated by the discussion. I cannot even say right now, what all we talked about. I remember a few things: His brother's death in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He had been buried in the debris of the apartment building in San Francisco that had collapsed. Robert Anton Wilson. Psychic phenomena. Reincarnation. Death. Depression. Insanity. God and the impossibility of it's existence, or maybe the possibility. Certainly that no one could know from reading any kind of sacred text making descriptions as though there was only one way to make a definition or description of appearance.

We talked other times, too. He was well versed in Discordianism. His explanations of it baffled me. Among our discussions, we learned we had the same ancestors and figured out that our closest great grandparents were about four or five generations back. Surprise! We were cousins!

Jay had the soul of an ethereal. You knew it being in his presence. I can't explain this. It is the way I experienced him. I knew he had a great sadness beneath that tarnished and shining exterior. He understood my own history of turmoil. We had suicide in common. He probably knew more about my son than I do. His eyes were beautiful. In my memory, an incredible blue. But, looking at pictures of him now, they don't appear that way.

After getting off the phone with my son, I looked for Jay's name on google and got frustrated. I thought perhaps there would be an obituary. I found none. Then I googled Taos +Bridge +Suicide and learned a few details that had been published in the news. I went to bed feeling sad. I woke up feeling sad. The sadness permeated my dreams and my day. I googled again and again, thinking there might be news updates. But, nothing was changed. Had there been no further investigations? Had his parents enough clout to prevent anything further being written about him. His name had not been mentioned at all. Perhaps in a few days, there will be an obituary.

I can't stop thinking about him. I looked at pictures of Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It's beautiful country, raw and wild. I had once said that when it's time for me to die, I will go to the Grand Canyon as a tourist and "accidentally" fall in. I felt it was a romantic idea. What a way to go! A most beautiful setting... the Grand Canyon. Not dying in my sleep after a miserable illness or whatever. I thought the headlines would stop people in their tracks. I would have an impact on them. They would pray for me. And here we are today with Jay having done something similar. 


I can see him in my mind's eye. I can feel his despondency and determination to climb over the railing. I believe there was anticipation and some sense of freedom and joy. Exhilaration at letting go. And then that deep crying out filled with the broken soul in great overwhelming grief as he fell some 650 feet. 


Did he turn his back on the gorge and fall backwards with his eyes closed waiting to hit bottom? If he did, I hope the angels rushed up beneath him and held them in their embrace letting his body fall while his spirit raised up with them.  

Did he dive? Did he look at the sky first, then down to the earth? Was his last sight of the gorge? The rocks, the river? I want to think the sight of those things might have given him some sense of infinite love.


I can't stop thinking about him. I can't sob or moan or cry. It's all locked up inside. Only sadness lays heavy on me. A part of me wishing I could do the same. A part of me wishing I could have known, could have contacted him, could have helped in some way to prevent him. But, who am I to decide that his life on earth was worth preventing his suicide. If he suffered so greatly that his only way out of the suffering was death, perhaps that was more meaningful to him that continuing to be in that perpetual misery.


I haven't seen you in a long time, Jay. I felt sad for you that you moved away to New Mexico. It seemed like such an incongruous place for you to be. It seemed San Francisco was your home. Is that why you came back last week to visit? Did you come back to the bay area to say goodbye? I hope you left a long letter somewhere that will surface. Some words of wisdom, perhaps. Something to give understanding of your pain. Something to show that your last act was your most meaningful, if that is what you meant it to be.







4 comments:

  1. Liz, I really wish you could be here or me there. You are really my only true friend. There are other friends, but they really know nothing about the real me....And I could never ever let them know some things about me... We are good for each other. I'm not sure what I can say about the doom an gloom you are experiencing, but I can listen and to some extent empathize...

    Patricia

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  2. Why does this show Abigail speaking... It's ok because you know it's me--just why?

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  3. Jay. Always in his mind, somewhere else. He was like me, yet more layered. I'm a simple beast, buried beneath layers of calculated apologies and humor to compartmentalize sorrow. He was always open, like a satellite dish. Hungry, perceptive, and forward, even when awkward, he would hold his discussions, even when his gaze drifted. I knew him well, and miss him forever. He did not leave without a legacy. The mark is deep and strong in everyone who knew him.

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  4. Thank you for commenting Justin. You've touched my deeply. You're right. Jay left a mark on the hearts of all who knew him. He wont be forgotten. Hugs to you, old friend. See you on FB!

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