When I started my blog in early 2017, I had a vision for it – to be a place for longer form content than social media allowed, and a place for me to explore things that interest me that might also interest you: sports, cycling, photography, dogs, politics, marketing, digital transformation, etc.
I’ve inadvertently diverged from that objective, venturing more into my personal history, life, etc. I am not sure any of that’s even interesting to anyone but me, quite frankly.
I will be reinventing this blog, because I am about to reinvent myself. But that’s for another post, on another day.
Hopefully this is a suitable transition into where I want to go. My last post was the written version of the eulogy I delivered in memory of my dad, who recently passed away.
What that post didn’t cover was the harder truth within the story.
My dad took his own life.
He had reasons. I understand. Yet I will never understand.
His many pains ended that day, with a single pull of the trigger of a handgun he shouldn’t have even owned. He didn’t need a gun. He didn’t hunt. He didn’t target shoot. He lived in a very safe area – he rarely even locked his front door. So he bought the gun for one reason only – to have available if it ever got to that point. Which it obviously did. He didn’t want to suffer any more. I’m sure he went fast. I’m glad about that. For him.
For me? For his Grandkids? Brother? Nieces? Friends? It’s the opposite. It’s painful & slow. I can’t stop thinking about it. I think about him a lot. Many nights I dream about him. But not about his life and the many good parts, just about the way it ended. I dream it over and over and over. I see it, clearly, even though I wasn’t there.
I didn’t find him – he made sure nobody who loved him would – but I was on the receiving end of the call from the medical examiner. I apparently went numb. I heard only sporadically as he told me in a very professional manner what had happened.
I don’t remember everything said – but I do remember some specific words: “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head”. Those words continue to echo through me as clear as anything I’ve ever heard.
Then he uttered the somehow even-more chilling statement that I shouldn’t go to the house – that nobody should – until after a crew was sent in to deeply clean the area in his backyard where he did it. And he added that I wouldn’t want to see the body before he was cremated.
So why did he do it? He didn’t leave a note, so nobody is sure.
What I am sure of is that he was in pain and he couldn’t see an end to that. He had two cancers. Neither was immediately life threatening, but he was too weak to get enough chemotherapy to kill them, just enough to keep them at bay. So, he stopped chemo. I would’ve too.
He had lots of other health issues. None of which required hospitalization full time, but some that required in-home care that simply isn’t available, affordably. He was on a cocktail of so many daily prescription medications that it was impossible to keep up with them – a full-time job just to take his pills. I could go on and on and on.
Maybe I am a shitty son who didn’t do enough for his aging dad. I am tortured by that notion.
Maybe overall our society is shitty in how we take care of our elderly and infirm. I am tortured by that as well.
Maybe as a society we put artificial stigmas on humane ways for people suffering to choose to end their lives.
We make it stupidly hard for someone like him to deal with all that a deteriorating body throws at him, but we made it really easy for him to buy the gun he took his own life with. A lot easier than it was for me to have his cable TV shut off after he passed. Think about how fucked up that is.
Can we please do something about it? Have real discussions about guns?, about mental health? about elderly care? about end-of-life decisions?
The fact that an elderly man in constant pain (who was taking heavy doses of prescribed medications – including opioids) was able to easily acquire the handgun he needed to end his own suffering (while at the same time leaving a lot of suffering in his wake) is a fact I can’t just let go of.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m not a gun guy. I honestly don’t get the appeal of them. I’ve never owned one, I’ve never fired one. I don’t feel like I am missing anything. There is no gap I feel in my life from not experiencing guns.
I accept that my view doesn’t have to be your view, and I honestly don’t care if you feel the polar opposite – that’s perfectly fine with me. But I don’t understand how anybody rational can’t recognize that some people just shouldn’t have them.
I just hope that it doesn’t take something as devastating as this hitting you squarely in the face for you to come to that realization.
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