Saturday, March 20, 2010

Suicide: It is Not Painless, But It Does Cause Many Changes

Someone I did not like, a former friend, Jiji McClintock, known also by her previous name, Irene Kerth, killed herself Tuesday, March 16, by jumping off a very picturesque bridge in my neighborhood, the St. Johns Bridge. Google it -- it is really a lovely bridge. She did this around 6pm, knowing, I guess, that someone would see her. She left 3 cats, a frog, and an apartment full of junk. I hope she made the right decision, because there are no do overs after you smack into that hard, hard river.

How I found this out was that the county Medical Examiner called here for Tom, on behalf of Jiji's not-quite-ex-husband, Jon. Of course, Tom was out of town, and wasn't due back until Wednesday, the 17th. Her car had to be claimed or it would be impounded with much trouble and expense. So, off I went, with my step-brother, Kevin, to pick up the car. He was all worried and paranoid about it being a police matter but, really, they could not have been more indifferent to the whole thing. The car now sits in our driveway. Tom's in shock, Jon's in shock, especially since this divorce was full of ugliness. There was harassment, I guess, and general unwillingness to cooperate.

I went over to her place to check on her animals, 3 cats and a frog, who were all okay, but lonely and wondering what was going on. I made sure the cats were safe, cleaned their box, checked on water, fed the frog, who was ravenous.

Jiji's suicide note, generally blaming Jon, her not-quite-yet ex-husband, was left on her bed alongside an unsigned Will. I assume that signed copies were mailed to the heirs. She said that she lied to everyone and had planned this for some time because her heart, spirit, trust, and dreams had been broken and would never mend. She was going to a therapist, according to her LJ blog entries. She may have had cancer, and chose to do nothing about it for lack of money, though her insurance was still good till the end of this month. She left short messages for people, including Tom. Including me. Her message to me was not kind, but it was what she saw and believed about me. In it she said I have a big heart and great strength, but was angry and bitter (well, that is true sometimes), jealous, fearful of the unknown, and that I'm lonely and friendless because of it. And that's what drove her away. Maybe, maybe not. I don't feel particularly lonely. Her last sentence tells me to get help and stop tormenting Tom with my insanity. Well, there you go. From my viewpoint, the emotional blackmail I experienced from her, and the fact that she stole a bunch of money from Kevin, is why I cut her out of my life. She left a very sweet and personal message to Tom, which I will not quote here because it is for him, but her last sentence to him is, "I love you." She had some really lovely things, and some really nasty things to say to other folks, who I don't know.

I wasn't sure what would happen next, other than get in touch with Jon in the morning, go make sure the cats were okay, maybe talk to the landlord if he was there. I had planned to bring the cats and froggie here, but they were better where they felt safe, at least for the time being. In fact, a young woman who is experienced in animal rescue came and took the cats up to Seattle with her. Jon will take the frog. There will be a lot of packing, shipping, loading, whatever in the next couple weeks, and maybe I'll be able to avoid some of that... But I guess the apartment has to be vacant by April 1st.

And I'm not really sure how I feel about this. Monday night I was thinking that I know someone that I don't like (Jiji) who may be seriously ill, and how did I feel about that? I came up kind of blank. And that's where I am right now. Kind of blank. She made this decision, carried it through, and there's quite a mess left behind to be picked up, as I guess there always is when something like this happens. I sure wish she'd left a contact list somewhere with the Will and final note, so I could get word out to them, especially to the adoptive mother of her daughter, who really needs to know about this, and how to tell the daughter, who is presently under care in a mental hospital. This will be really hard on them. And I know it's really hard on Tom. But me... just blank. I'll be percolating it for some time, I think.

Sometimes suicide is the right choice, despite the advice of all the experts, and I hope this one was the right choice. Sometimes we think to do this and don't. Sometimes we try it out because we just want the pain/fear/desperation to go away. This is conjecture on my part. I've never been there. If any of you make this decision, PLEASE think of the people you leave behind and leave them clues how to reach each other, and what to do next. Think of your animal friends and make some real provisions for them
before you step out into the big nothing. They can't speak for themselves and the law considers them just property to be disposed of. If you won't change your mind, remember the ones who care for you, who will have to clean up after you, and make it a little easier on them.

Most of this week has been spent helping to sort out Jiji's effects, make sure things are put aside for people named in her Will, getting the cats all squared away and taken care of, retrieving furniture we loaned to her, and things like that. I've met some of her friends, which has been very enlightening. This whole last year she pushed a lot of people away from her, it turns out. Some of them saw the craziness long before Tom did.

Since we had ended our friendship most definitely, it's quite ironic that here I am, having to do all this stuff for/with her estate. Somewhere, if there's a somewhere, she's getting a laugh out of that. I can not understand the decision she made to end her life, but I respect it.

Since then, I threw my step-brother, Kevin, out of our driveway and out of our lives. This was a long time coming, and good riddance to a load of trash. What got me angry was that he stole a Wii game system from Jiji's house after she died. What made me throw him out was his self-righteous refusal to return it, insisting that he was "owed" and only he was important here. I pointed out that he was, in fact, stealing from Jiji's daughter, a young woman currently in a boarding school for troubled youth. And also, he owes Tom and I way more than Jiji took and has never once looked for work or made any attempt to pay us back, or even pay token rent. He always had plenty of money to buy his cigarettes, though. There was quite an intense fight, that nearly got physically violent because I was so furious. I finally threw his full ashtry all over him and his stuff in the van, he tossed silverware and jars of peanut butter and old cans out into the yard. There was a lot of yelling, swearing, and general invective. I got the house key back, cut off his power, handed back his iPod, and that afternoon (Wednesday, just before Tom got back from Detroit) he got someone or other to haul him and his ratty van the hell away from here. I told him he could call to arrange to pick up the rest of his huge pile of stuff. THE END. I feel like I just lost 135 lbs of useless flab in an instant. Because I did.

Some major changes have taken place in my life just now, some perplexing and tragic, some very positive. My emotions have been, and still are, all over the place, but I'm sure that's normal and a good thing.

March BJP may be late, but I have a lot to think about and more to do right now. I'm hoping for a long stretch of boring, uneventful days and months ahead, but I do not see anything like that coming. I'm buckling my seatbelt for that bumpy ride ahead.

And now... back to work.


Whytefeather said...

I'm sorry. What a rough time you've had of it lately. I wish you calm and peace and a chance for the dust to settle a bit in the whirl wind you've been in.

What struck me most though, is that negative things are leaving your life... in one way or another. Some is by your choice (the step-brother) and some is not by your choice (the no longer friend). Change is making it's self felt loud and clear here.

I am not for or against suicide, I don't judge one way or another for any one who decides that is their path. Suicide is a selfish choice I think and most times the person who makes that choice doesn't think of the people or pets they leave or care that some one else will have to take care of the mess they leave. There are cases though where people do take care of loose ends before making that so final decision, it's unfortunate that this is one of them.

I would think her almost-ex should be handling every thing, or any family she had, rather than you though. Hugs to you, Lois, in this strange changing life and big wishes for you to have some boring quiet days.

Lois2037 said...

Whytefeather, I feel the same way about suicide. It is a selfish choice by necessity, and because it is, a lot of things are never taken care of, nor are the people left behind thought of much. I feel like Jiji just up and abandoned the cats and her friends this way, and I wish it could have happened otherwise. It's obvious she was in a lot of distress and pain, so I can understand that she was not thinking logically.

I was very grateful that the animal rescue person came to take the cats. Otherwise, I would have had to care for them, and I do not think they would be happy in my house with the kitties that already live here. I hope they'll be okay.

The ex-husband lives up in Seattle and couldn't get down here right away, and my husband and I have known her the longest, and live nearby, so that is why some of the chores came my way. I was not on my own, though, some of her friends came to help, one of them even flew in from Montana for the weekend to help pack and ship things to various people. The man who adopted her daughter has been here for the last two days, packing all the many things it seemed appropriate for her daughter to receive. My husband will be collecting her ashes to hold for another of her friends, who will keep them until her daughter is ready, and then there will be a scattering ceremony. All that's left for me is to do the last load of laundry, wash a few dishes, and feed the frog until the ex comes down for the weekend to hold an estate sale. He will then close the place up, return the keys to the landlord, and arrange for donation of anything left over. He will take the frog home with him.

Somewhere Jiji is very amused that I, of all people, am having to do so much. I do this in memory of the friendship I once had with her, and for my husband who was still close to her. I look on it as a last favor and a service.

And thanks for the hugs. I believe you are right about getting the negative things out of my life, and it certainly is better to see it that way. I wish I could have this happen with less intensity, though.

freebird said...

My sister's husband shot himself with his son's gun after emailing his son (who took my sister to Japan where she'd be safe from her husband) and saying his son killed him. What a mess. And that was the end of 40 years of his abusing my sister and not loving his son.

The daughters feel awful and my sister felt it was an awful price to pay for her freedom. After a couple of years they are all doing better. He didn't take care of anything either.

It is wonderful you are taking care of things even if most of the people who otherwise might have were far away. It's still a very giving thing to all the others that you are doing it. And then to get rid of a step brother who was not good. Well, I sure hope things smooth out for you. This was a bit more toxic month than you expected back in February I think. Do take care of yourself.

Lois2037 said...

freebird -- What a tragic story! I'm glad things are getting better for those folks now. They deserve some peace and freedom from all the bad.

This is kind of a last favor to someone I knew, and someone who is very important to my husband. Almost everything is sorted and settled by now, and there will be a yard/estate sale this weekend. What amazes me the most is that within a week, all of a person's lifetime of possessions can be gone through, distributed, and readied for sale, the ashes picked up... All of the "you" that is physically left can be all wound up in such a short time. By this time next week, nothing will be left behind, new people will rent the apartment, and the only things left will be memories.

JoTee said...

I agree with Whytefeather, I am not for or against suicide, I don't judge one way or another for any one who decides that is their path.

Many times I think how would I or anyone else be able to stop someone...not sure on that question either, I did help one friend onetime, at least I think I did, I was there for her & I "listened" & "talked" with her, when she returned from her trip, she then told me what she had, had planned out...she is now living way up in Alaska & is doing better, even though her health is not good.

I agree totally with what you wrote "What amazes me the most is that within a week, all of a person's lifetime of possessions can be gone through, distributed, and readied for sale, the ashes picked up... All of the "you" that is physically left can be all wound up in such a short time. By this time next week, nothing will be left behind, new people will rent the apartment, and the only things left will be memories."

Life goes "on after one passes into the next world", but there are always "memories of that person" whether we keep them is up to each individual.

You have been a courageous person dealing with "Jiji's passing", am glad that some friend were there for you to.

Diane said...

You are courageous and right in that you have lost 135 lbs. count your blessings and step forward into a new month.
A couple of years ago my friends ex-husband committed suicide in South Africa with a gun and we had a student at our school last year do it as well by hanging. It always leaves questions and heartache but you hope that the person achieves peace.
Diane, New Zealand

Robin said...

Oh Lois, I am amazed and distressed at these stories... Jiji and Kevin, both out of you life in such dramatic and unsettling ways. Oh dear... may I encourage you to sit quietly with your beads and allow them to help you sort through your emotions about these two things. You are feeling blank because the strength of your emotions is so high that your inner protector is not letting you feel them. Not felt, they can begin to fester... that's why I think beading these two situations will help. I am sending you a gentle cloak of healing. Hugs, Robin A.

Lois2037 said...

Thank you JoTee, Diane, and Robin. I appreciate your concerns and support so much! Things are a whole lot calmer around here by now, especially with Kevin gone. Our neighbors are so much happier, too. Apparently he had quite a number of low-lifers dropping by late at night, making noise, which we did not hear because we work on the other side of the house. It really feels like a happier place without that old decrepit van in the driveway, and us never knowing what Kevin would do or want next.

As far as suicide, I truly believe that it is our life to live, or not, as we decide. Having looked through all the bits and pieces of Jiji's life, and talked to so many of her friends, it really looks like all roads may well have led to this point. We will never know for sure. Anti-depressants played a very unfortunate role in this, I believe, but drug reactions aside, she was never happy, despite many joyful moments and times.

I realized, after awhile, that what I was feeling wasn't really so much a blankness, but a slowly developing sense of peacefulness. It had been a long time since I felt that way in general, that I didn't quite know what to do with it. :- ) I've been calmer and more relaxed in life since all this happened, and I suspect that on some level I could feel that things were about to blow dramatically, and I was in suspense. Once that all finally happened, and I realized it, I felt much better about things.

I'm doing art and beading, and will eventually get caught up with BJP. Robin, you are so right about the calming power of beading. It really did, and does, help me to get in touch with what's going on inside my heart, and my head.