In February of this year, my father committed suicide.
His obituary said nothing of suicide. This I believe is my greatest error. Although I learned many lessons, I in an effort to rectify this error write my greatest lesson out for all to see. Suicide can happen, and it does happen. Once handsome, useful, practical old men, when weighted down by what their life has become may choose to end it. It is possible.
When I reached his house, a policeman was asking all the important questions. Where were you? when was the last time you saw him? …Upon thinking back on it, I had seen him quite recently, but I had not seen the man who was my father for a long time. He was a sad, faded remnant of himself the last times I spoke to him.
This is the root of another lesson I learned from my father’s suicide, and my three-year-old daughter taught it to me. My memories were of a sad faded vestige of a person, lying in a mortuary. Her memories were of a man who loved her. A man whose lap she had shared with a puppy that licked her face. He was tea parties and games. When I mentioned him, she laughed and remarked on how funny he was and how much she loved him.
If my daughter can remember him for the man he was, then so must I. There were too many good times to forget them because of his suicide. Although the jumble of images that constitute my memories of the days immediately after his death dominate; it is my duty to myself to remember the better times. I cannot live in the moment when I was standing with my back against the wall and snow in my hair listening to the coroner extricate his body.
He was an adult and you have to respect the decisions people make about their own lives. It is my belief that the worst thing that a person can do in my position is ask why. As I stood in the mortuary talking to him, I said that I hoped to never know how he felt. I have to believe God forgives him this decision. If God forgives him, then I can too.