Bittersweet

April…
Spring….
Flowers….
Cakes, pies…
and suicide……

April
A bittersweet month – filled with change and firsts.

Change is not my forte. Big change unsettles me. A new co-worker to train; a co-worker of 10 years says good-bye.  Feeling a little weird as the waves settle into a rhythmic pattern and all that has felt strange slowly becomes the norm.

Then the ‘firsts’ – my first charity bake.  Placing first – a very happy moment.  It helps to keep the sadness of another first at bay.
Death.  The biggest change of them all.

And not just life ending – but suicide.  That’s a first for me.  I hope there’s never a second. It’s not something I want to get used to; I can’t image anyone “gets used to” suicide.  It’s horrible. There’s no argument about it. No debate – no philosophic angle to expound upon.  Death. Done. End.

My neighbor of 19 years committed suicide on Maundy Thursday.  She was 49.  Fifty seemed too much and in the midst of good things happening; she couldn’t hang on.  Leaving on a high note – Ok.  Maybe.  I don’t know. I’m not judging.  I’m just sad.

I miss her every day – she wasn’t my closest or best friend  but she was part of my every day life. Our driveways were ‘kissing cousins’ and we were always gabbing over the wall. Trading this or that. She was close to my son as he grew up – she was a dynamic elementary teacher and artist.  I can not even count how many times I made dinner for two and my little son would bring over his special plate and they’d have a ‘dinner’ date.  She drove me crazy sometimes too – but that’s how it is with people in your life.  But she’s gone now.  The empty driveway –  “Melissa’s Art Room” in letters on the side door to her sun room (she taught art to little random-shrieking girls on Saturdays) – I see it every day.  Sometimes it’s OK – sometimes it’s less OK.

We had a little gathering for her last night.  Good Bye, Melissa.  I miss you – even your crazy stuff I miss.  Nineteen years.  Poof…done. Changed.

She tasted my test pie for the charity bake.  But she wasn’t there for Easter leftovers.  Thursday she was dead, I didn’t know…my world was the same.  Good Friday – 7:30AM…the knowledge came and life turned upside down.  It’s so odd how much ‘knowing’ makes a difference.  I can see why ignorance is bliss.  I didn’t want to have to tell my son – shatter his innocence with explanations of suicide. Death is hard; suicide is – well it’s something else.   I was angry with her – but not anymore. I can understand, just a tiny bit from my own experience, that desperation.  I hope she found peace.

This is really kind of rambling – and there’s no end game  – it just is.

Melissa is gone.
That is all.

Oscar Night for Melissa - and her date Dorian

Oscar Night for Melissa – and her date Dorian

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in change, death, grief and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Bittersweet

  1. lolabees says:

    So sorry for your tragic loss. Sending virtual hugs.

  2. calahan says:

    Sorry this happened, but glad you can remember her fondly. That’s a good legacy to leave behind, I suppose.

  3. I’m so sorry. This is a lovely way to honor your friend. I wish she understood how much she was loved and valued in life, but I guess when you’re in that state of despair it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen it too many times. I hope she has found peace too. Sending you all my love!

  4. TheLastWord says:

    Sorry to read about this. I often wonder whether life would ever become so hopeless as to drive me to suicide. I’m inclined to believe that my heart would give away due to sadness long before I could commit suicide. However, we can never say.

    Such posts are necessarily rambly.

    • I think Melissa struggled with depression/bi polar ups & downs for as long as I’ve known her -but I never knew she was contemplating suicide…that was the shocker – she was always smiling; but it’s hard to know what is in anyone’s heart.

      Sometimes with depression, you get to a place that is unlike anything you experience in your ‘regular’ day to day life – and things look & feel different. Where life is just so different. I hope you never visit that place – I wish no one did.

  5. There is a girl in our church whose father committed suicide earlier this year. Her parents were divorced; she attended church with her mother and step-father, so I didn’t know the man although many in the church did. I was overwhelmingly sad anyway, just thinking about how crushing this must be for her.

    What blew me away though was when her step-father was asked about it at a church meeting and he divulged that it had given him a way to relate to her because he was six when his father committed suicide. As I struggled to absorb that, another man (there were only a dozen people in the room) talked about how hard it was to cope when his dad committed suicide. I just sat there stunned and wondered just how prevalent it really is.

    Then again, when I step back and think about it, I know of two people from high school that have since committed suicide – both did so in their thirties. It’s such a sad problem and so difficult to comprehend.

    • First – thank you for sharing your story. It always helps us understand when we see things from different POV.

      You are so right – we don’t know how to deal with death to start with and then add suicide on top, plus old word thoughts about it (something to hide a sin etc), makes it even harder to cope with. I know too many people who have had to deal with suicide – of their family members too – the hardest…but this is the first for me that actually touches me directly. Too sad and so unreal… it’s heart breaking on every level.

  6. hauntedpages says:

    We really never know the depths of others and there struggles, life is a fleeting glimpse. I too experienced a sucide som many years ago…about thirty…somthing you truly never let go of.

  7. robincoyle says:

    I just don’t understand suicide. So tragic. Life is short enough as it is. I’m so sorry.

  8. Paul says:

    Oh Rutabaga, So sad. **HUGS**

  9. Statements that squeeze your heart, I like that. And your post did that to me. I’m so very sorry.

  10. Oh….I’m so sorry to read this tragic post. Sending hugs your way.

  11. Carrie Rubin says:

    So sorry to hear about your friend and neighbor. Very difficult to have to explain these things to our kids. As you mention, we want to keep them innocent and away from life’s pain. But obviously that’s not possible, so we do the best we can in the simplest language we can and give them lots of hugs after.

  12. Elyse says:

    My heart goes out to you and your son. Death is never easy. Suicide? Heartbreaking. And when you see the reminders, well, your heart breaks a little more each time. I hope she is at peace. I hope you will be (in a DIFFERENT WAY) with her sad decision.

    • Thanks Elyse – I’m slowly getting there. I respect her decision; and wished she didn’t feel she had to make it. It’s just sad about all the destruction it leaves behind for those of us that love her.

      I hate thinking of her planning her death and what it must have been like to feel that way…and to go thru the motions of your life up until that day. Her sitting there and doing it haunts my dreams.

      • Elyse says:

        I’ve done a lot of research on this topic for work. The percentage of impulsive acts is HUGE >75% I think. To me that is harder to grasp.

        • Ick – for all of it. It’s opposite for me – I can almost understand impulse – X happened – too much … then Y .
          But with very few exceptions (fatal disease, for example) – planning it out is all the more painful.
          It’s all painful – all of it.

  13. rossmurray1 says:

    Sorry to read this. We all know sadness but few of us know or understand despair.
    I’m in the middle of reading “All My Puny Sorrows,” which centres around suicide and the desire and persistence of a character to end her life. So far, there is no “reason” given, and I think that is often the case. Reason doesn’t enter into it.

    • Exactly- I thought that having a reason for her sudden death would make it different – but it has not. Mental illness is so very hard to translate despite outward appearances, eh? She gave a lot of happiness to people and that will be her legacy.

      • hbsuefred says:

        I bet your son will especially remember his “dates” with Melissa (also my daughter’s name – Yikes!) and will always treat women well. Hopefully the way he lost her will fade from his memory in the process.
        I replied on this response to indicate how much I appreciate your attitude about the otherwise unexplainable final act of your friend and neighbor. A friend of mine experienced a similar situation with her neighbor in San Francisco. My friend is gay and Catholic and has had a lot of losses and difficulties in her life. Fortunately she has maintained an upbeat attitude and continued to carry on.
        Guess it’s another of life’s mysteries and part of its (or God’s) infinite variety – how different people handle tough situations.

        • I hope he remembers all the good stuff with Melissa – Kids are much more resilient than adults, I’ve come to find. We over analyze and children take things in stride as ‘this is what happened’.

          My heart to your friend – it’s sometimes difficult enough handling your own situation/losses then dealing with someone’s suicide – just too hard sometimes.

          Thank you for your thoughtful remarks – you can reply any where on my page – you are always welcome here ~

  14. I’m sorry to hear of this. Poor Melissa. I’ll remember her in my prayers this evening (can’t promise for any longer than that because I’m likely to forget). It just shows that we can never guess what others are going through, doesn’t it?

    • Thank you – she would like that – she was a very active Episcopal – helped in the Sunday services and lead different social groups.

      I know – looking happy doesn’t always equate to being happy. Mental illness is so very daunting.

  15. Amy Reese says:

    So sad, Denise. I’m so sorry.

  16. Lisa says:

    As always, you know I’m with you in thought, if not in person! Death, any kind of death, is not something to get used to, it’s something to deal with, mourn, and learn to live beyond. Love, love. love!!

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