***Written quickly, and not edited. Just needed to vent.***
Through my career as a paramedic, I have listened to many a despondent person speak of suicide, while revealing tales steeped with insurmountable sadness. I have had the misfortune of holding, and reading suicide notes that are left behind by the newly departed. Notes that are either written with an excellence rivaling that of the most celebrated literary scholar, or scribbled with a child-like haste. No matter how they are penned however, the ending is always the same: “I’m sorry”. The person who fell victim to the demons within them, usually always says “sorry” at one time or another. They do this because I feel they know the reality of what will be left behind, both with respect to their lifeless body, and with respect to the ramifications it will have on their loved ones. So, although committed to ending the despair, they are sorry for what it means for those left living.
For many years I lived my life thinking that suicide was selfish, and completely voided the person of any sympathies or empathy. I now know that this is an egregious and utterly myopic way of looking at things. I am not justifying suicide, nor glorifying it. I do not think that suicide is a subject that needs justification or glory, it simply needs understanding. Something I severely lacked, especially when I worked as a paramedic.
The other night, my phone lit up while sitting beside me on the couch. I peered down towards it, and noticed that the caller ID read: Mum Cell. I picked it up and pressed the green answer button, and held the small speaker of my phone to my ear. On the other end through a subtle, metallic tone, my mother’s voice broke in with a greeting. I immediately knew that something was wrong by the way she spoke her words. Her voice was shaking and shrouded in an audible sadness. I began to empathetically speak to her, responding to what she was saying. Almost instinctively, my medic brain switched on, and my mom had become a patient.
I skillfully began to pry answers from her, so as to reveal the true nature of her suffering. She explained that she was very ill and that her living conditions were rapidly becoming equal to squalor. My mother has been sick for most of my life. When I was quite young, she was diagnosed with Cancer. She subsequently beat that Cancer, and then met Cancer on the field of battle three more times. I watched on many occasions as my mothers thick, wavy, black hair gave way to thinning strands of blackened grey, and fall mercilessly to the floor, or collect itself within bathroom sink. She bested Cancer despite its nefarious intentions. She has always been a stubborn and somewhat cantankerous woman. What I mean is, she battled Cancer on four occasions, all the while holding a lit cigarette in her hand – like I said, stubborn and cantankerous.
Although on this occasion she did not elaborate what she meant by “very ill” I knew and know that she has been battling undiagnosed mental illnesses for as long as I have been alive, and thus, she is always ‘ill’ in some form or another…
Our conversation quickly became a little more austere, when she began explaining how she wanted to die, and how she had plans of making that happen. I once again used my skills as a medic, coupled with that of a concerned son, to extrapolate what she was planning and when she was planning to do the unthinkable.
In the past, and when I was too young to really comprehend, my mother in fact did try to kill herself. She swallowed a perfect combination of pills so as to warrant emergency intervention. I was too young to know it but, I almost lost my mother after already having lost my father. My brothers and sisters were burdened with not only being older, and bearing witness while having the maturity to understand what had happened, but also with having to look after me, a clueless, confused young boy. Well, that is not the case anymore – I am anything but clueless. Confused? Perhaps…
When the conversation was about to draw to a close at my mothers control, she culminated what she had revealed to me by saying, “I love you Matt, OK. No matter what, mum loves you…” The line then went dead.
I paused for a moment after having placed the phone back down beside me, and then after realizing what I would do as a medic in this situation, I called the police. My mother lives across the country from me so, a quick jaunt over to see her was out of the question. I spoke to a kind dispatcher who concurred that my concerns seemed legitimate, and that in turn lead her to dispatching a young RCMP officer to my mother’s residence to check on her.
A little while later, I received a call from a blocked number, the RCMP officer, he began explaining that he had gone to check on her and that she “was a nice old lady, and I gotta say, one of the cleanest places I have ever been in” … Wait, what? Clean? My mother made it seem like her living conditions were falling apart as precipitously as her health!? The RCMP officer satisfied my line of questioning by explaining that there was plenty of food in the home, and that there were no safety concerns with the accommodations itself. All of this lead me to one conclusion – I had once again been manipulated and lied to by my mother for the soul purpose that she’s lonely. Lonely… SHE SPENT THE GREATER PART OF TWO MONTHS TEXTING EACH CHILD RESPECTIVELY, TELLING MYSELF AND MY SIBLINGS TO LEAVE HER ALONE AND NEVER SPEAK WITH HER AGAIN BECAUSE “WE DON’T CARE ABOUT HER” … She followed that with more text messages about how we ignore her and that she does not understand why!?
My mother has always been complicated that way, I mean, she kicked my sister out of the house when she was barely 16, because she was not paying rent. She refused to let me eat at 14 because I also was not paying rent. She acted like a bookie by taking a percentage of my paper-route money some years earlier. She called the police on my brothers claiming that they were stealing from her (they weren’t), and those among many other instances were now brilliantly attached to this, the latest round of: Fuck with your kids heads, mom edition.
My mother is now angry and ignoring me because I called the police to check on her. She refuses to enter into conversation with me, and refuses to listen as to how I am unable to ignore rhetoric about suicide any more. I am no longer myopic towards the issue. Instead, she had chosen a new target – my brother. She has now taken to sending him text messages depicting dystopian living conditions, and guilt riddled speak, that is designed to have one effect and one effect only, to make others feel bad for the current status of her life.
That’s my mom, the not so suicidal lady.
When I told my mom about my own ideations that I had been having some months back, in the middle of a bad PTSD plagued week, she said, and I quote “Well, I bet you I beat you to it there Boy’o!” That’s right, she looked at suicide with her son as a race, a competition. She did not show concern of compassion for her suicidal child, no, she saw a challenge as to who was going to feel bad first… And the other night, I fell for her trap once more.
The one thing that I will never forget about the strangers last notes that I read while standing beside their lifeless bodies, each note although written differently and for different reasons all had two things in common: They each saw no other way but with the finality of death to ease their suffering, and they each felt an undeniable pain and sorrow at the thought of what they were leaving behind. They were all sorry.
My mother isn’t sorry. She’s angry and selfish. She’s manipulative and apathetically evil with intent. I’m sorry however. I’m sorry that she truly doesn’t seem to know any better.
Thanks Mom… Thanks…