May 12, 2007

Lives That Cannot Be Recalled

The story I had was not entirely correct. The suicide was not AFTER everyone had arisen. It occurred earlier, in the hour of the wolf, before anyone was up. Then the discovery. But no word about the shot and whether anyone heard it and where he was found. And nothing about how those last minutes might have gone. Here was a man who loved mathematical patterns, who deeply enjoyed complexity and the order to be found what others assume is chaos. But suddenly he must have seen through the patterns or not been comforted by them. Order must have seemed like chaos and not an interesting chaos, like storm clouds or the sight of white caps from an airplane.

As I told you he was the life of parties, bigger than life, and taller than life. He said things like, "Turn up the music so we won't hear them scratching at the door," "A headache is a sure sign of aspirin deficiency," "It's going to be big," "It is the misfortune of pigs that they are so tasty," "You all are dangerously close to having too much fun," " Don't make me use the pepper spray," "So, you're the designated drinker," "When I was your age I went to bed before midnight."

Does that sound like a man who would turn?

There was also a letter; by one account, a very "angry" letter. And now, for his wife, the double pain of loss and the trumping of the letter. 'You see it's come to this, and you are the cause.' Something like that perhaps and if that was the gist of it, and I don't know if it was, then he committed a double murder. And no way for him to say, as he surely would have, on a more temperate day, or given the rarely used, little known opportunity, to kill yourself and then use the get-out-of-death card: "I'm so sorry I wrote that letter. It was a terrible mistake. I didn't mean it. I couldn't sleep, I've been depressed. I'm worried about our finances. Please forgive me. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't understand what it meant. I got carried away with what I thought was reality...."

At the neighborhood soccer game the boy was absent. He and his mother have sought refuge with family. But at the game everyone was talking about it, trying to get more information. For some it was a warning label; for others it was simply sad and not much to be done but think well of the family, send a card perhaps, drop off some fruit, and go to a mass. For still others it was an exciting drama to sustain lives in which not much happens, not much is ever seen.


After the game I returned to the garage where I take my car on Saturdays for one fix or another. The place is run by Dale, who is from Fiji. He asked how I was, for some reason I told him I was consumed by the suicide of a man I didn't know. Oh yea, he said, yea that happens a lot. He told me about a man who hung himself last year in Daly City. And his brother hung himself 10 years before that. All from Fiji. "Women," said Dale. "They always do it over women."

I'd struck a nerve. Dale, I realized, was now a carrier. I'd infected him just as I'd been infected.

"Yea, and my wife's sister's daugther killed herself..." He described a 24 year old girl who left Fiji and went to New Zealand. It was a culture shock. And then she fell in with the Hare Krishna. And then she fell in love with a man and that didn't go well, for some reason. She was told the man was off limits. She also suffered from depression. She was very beautiful, very confident. Everyone thought so. Then one day, less than a year ago, her mother came into her daughter's room and found clothes over a chair. Dale's story was confusing, he passed over that, but the girl's sari was missing. And that got the mother frantic. It was too late. Her daughter had gone into a public park and using the sari hung herself from the thick branch of a tree. Someone saw her and tried to get her down but it was too late.

"Yea," said Dale. "My wife's sister still isn't over it. And what has it been, almost a year." He shook his head and walked back into garage.

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