Jan 27, 2010

Last night Lorna V.L. jumped out of one of the upper stories of 101 Alma Street. The building, which was completed in 1960, has 14 stories, not counting the ones in each apartment. It's among the most prominent buildings in north Palo Alto.

The condos are expensive and the dues are a pretty penny. But you get spectacular views of the university and the hills to the west, or the wetlands and the bay to the east. There's a pool and a gym and 24-hour security. Tenants who've lived in New York City will tell you the building — despite the five-story palm tree out front and the glassed-in balconies — reminds them of New York.

There's even a green awning out front, the kind you find outside most brownstones in certain parts of Manhattan.

At around 10 o'clock last night, in 48 degrees and drizzle, Lorna jumped to her death. She was 77, suffering from kidney ailments and, above all, from depression. She was on oxygen and endlessly uncomfortable.

That she jumped at night is perhaps significant. It afforded her some privacy. Also, there was no reassuring view; hardly any lights, no metaphor to keep her going. In the end, the view and being above the world, was no comfort. And so you wonder, had she been living without the opportunity, had she and her husband not moved into that building, would she have decided to go on struggling?

And how was it that she and her husband decided on this building in the first place, how did each step lead to the next, and when did it first occur to her that she could use this venue to be grounded as it were, to get closer to something more concrete and at the same time, less.

When was the moment she was looking out at the view and then down and thought to herself, 'yes, I could do that. That would work.'

Her husband, of 54 years, was quoted in the local paper to say, "She was tired of the pain, tired of not being able to do anything. We’ve had a wonderful life together, and now it’s over.”


Anjuli said...

This is sad.

Anonymous said...

There's something to be said for someone in huge pain like this (why was she in pain?) being able to take control. But how sad that she could not escape in a less terrifying way -- a way that has undoubtedly left a scar on the people who still have to live there, and perhaps her own children. (Did her husband help her?) When will the US ever provide alternatives to people in her situation?

And when might we have the pleasure of one of your infinitely enjoyable lighter posts? It's been a bit heavy on the doom and gloom of late.