It’s difficult and uncomfortable to discuss suicide. Many of us have been impacted by it though. I even feel a little uncomfortable right now, at the same time, it’s easier to work through it by writing. That’s my way of talking. My grandpa committed suicide. As I type it, I feel this flutter in my chest and a rock form in the pit of my stomach. He didn’t leave a note and as far as any of us know, the last person he talked to was my dad. For years now, it’s rung in my head, my dad’s words saying, “I told him I was coming to see him. I told him I would be there the next day.” I believe he chose to leave on his own accord rather than waiting out the prostate cancer that was slowly taking him away already. He had watched my grandma battle cancer for several years and it was not any easy life. If I assume that’s why he went, I kind of understand that. I don’t understand why he didn’t leave a note. I will never understand the horror my cousin experienced when he found him. I will never understand the pain that rings in my dad’s voice when he talks about his dad dying.
The other day I was sifting through some old papers as I was re-organizing some files and I found a poem I wrote for a college poetry class in 2002. I was taking it when my grandpa died. I’m glad I found it because the poem allowed me to recall how I felt at the time and consider how I feel now. Writing was my outlet, it was my way of talking about it. Grief never stops, it’s more of an ebb and flow, so when I came across this poem, I felt like talking / writing about it again. I’ll warn you now, this poem is a little bit graphic, I remember I just let my thoughts flow at the time and this is what I came up with. So, I tentatively share my poem….read it fast.
My cousin found my grandpa after he shot himself in the basement of the biggest house in the little town I know. It actually doesn’t matter how big the house is or how small the town is, or that it was actually my second cousin, we just call him cousin.
What if it had been me to find my grandpa lying in a pool of blood and guts and a little stuffing from the couch that I used to curl up on and take naps after I ate too much world-class potato salad, and turkey that my dad carved, and some banana cream pie?
I wonder what the neighbors thought which is really the whole town since everyone is a neighbor in small towns like that anyway. Especially when the fire trucks went to the fire chief’s house that morning. I bet they stood at their windows looking for smoke.
My other grandmas live across the alley, close enough to thro a stone through the window from one house to the other, not that we would but I mean our family stays close like that. It’s actually my great grandma who’s 87 and my crazy great aunt who has a glass eye that falls out at the dinner table during Thanksgiving. It actually doesn’t matter because we just call them our grandmas that live across the alley. I wonder if they heard the gun shot that night while they lay in bed contemplating our wonderful family?