Craig Heihn

Craig Heihn

2018-07-12T21:15:46+00:00

 

I had a missed call from a California number, there was a voicemail. It’s my Grandmother and she’s saying something about calling “before it’s too late”. Too late?! Obviously something serious has happened. Obviously I’m the last to know if my Grandparents are already in California, they live in Idaho.
I call the number back numerous times with no answer. I try another number I know from that area and my cousin answers, no they’re not here, no I can’t tell you what’s happened just call the other number. Now my anxiety levels have hit the roof. What’s happened?! Finally she breaks down and tells me my Mother is gone. Gone? She’s committed suicide. I find out shortly after that she put a 38 revolver to her head and pulled the trigger.
The finality of this has taken years for my brain to accept. Gone.

Why am I writing this? I chose to write this because I want people to know what’s left after a suicide. I want whoever reads this to understand the guilt and wondering that’s carried by the survivors of suicide. I want you to understand the aftermath.

I drove up to the Bay Area to my Moms apartment. I pulled into a parking spot, shut off the engine and sat looking up at her place. No one knew I was there yet.
The tears hadn’t come until this very moment. Now I’m shaking uncontrollably and I can’t breathe. Even now, writing this there are emotions rising up in my throat and it’s been 14 years already. I don’t think it’s ever really going to go away.
I walk up the stairs and into the apartment. To my right I see my Grandpa sitting on the balcony with my Moms cat, blank stare. To my left in the kitchen is my Dad, same look, kind of vacant. Out of the bedroom comes my Grandma. She’s already packing things. This is fucking nuts. This isn’t happening is it?! At this point I’m truly questioning reality. If I’m dreaming this is a fucked up dream. I continue to stand there and still no one has spoken. I look down about two feet from where I’m standing and I see a massive hole has been cut out of the carpet. Not a round hole, no it’s more kidney shaped and rather large. I look to my left and I see the bullet hole in the wall.
This is where she did it, this was the spot she chose.

My Grandparents were 91 and 80 when my Mom died. Neither had been on a commercial airplane I don’t think before this. My Mom was their only birth child. They had three miscarriages, adopted my Uncle and then my Mom was born a few years later. To them she was truly a miracle. Not to sound cliche but no parent should ever outlive their children.

My Grandpa died 5 months after my Mom. It literally killed him. After her death he was never the same. I would go visit them in Idaho and my Grandpa would just sit out in the backyard and talk to himself and cry. It was very hard for me to contain my anger towards my Mom. Watching this strong man cry in his final days fucking infuriated me.
My Grandpa left home and rode the trains during the Great Depression looking for work and sending most of the money home to his family. Any extra money was won boxing in prizefights at the carnivals that roamed the country at the time. His knuckles were gnarled and his fingers had been busted boxing too many times to count. Never stopped him.
He was an infantryman in WW11.
Most of his time was spent in the jungles of the South Pacific where he contracted malaria and jungle rot on his feet. Never stopped him.
My Grandma found him one morning on the floor, he’d suffered a massive stroke. I got the phone call saying he had maybe 24 hours to live. I flew to Idaho to see him before he passed and got to say goodbye. This was a tough man who was literally folded by his daughters suicide.
Now I’ve lost not only my Mom but now my Grandpa in 5 months. Now I’m fucking angry. This is how I deal with hurt.

My Grandmother dealt with things in an entirely different manner. She lived in denial. She convinced herself that my Mom didn’t really mean to kill herself. In her eyes it was an accidental death, she was crying out for help but it backfired.
She lived another 10 Years. Her quality of life was basic misery. It’s all she talked about, she was consumed with my Moms death. It didn’t matter what I would talk with her about, it would inevitably come around to my Moms suicide.
My Grandma grew up in the South. “Poor White Trash” she’d say. Met my Grandpa when he was home on leave with a buddy.
They were married 3 weeks later, she was 17.
He went back to the War and she boarded a train from Florida to Boise, Idaho. Rode that train across the country by herself to go live with folks she’d never even spoken to on the phone. Her new in-laws. Waited 3 more years for my Grandpa to come home. They only had letters to communicate with. There were times when the mail didn’t show up for weeks both would say. She didn’t know if he was dead and he didn’t know if she’d given up and left him. My Grandma waited for him.
That generation of people were tough. A different breed to make it through a depression and a World War. A suicide knocked the wind out of both of those people in an instant.
In the end my Grandma was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She was too tired to fight it. I did go see her just prior to her dying but she didn’t want anyone there when she passed but my Dad. The one who found my Mom. I talked with her as best as I could. She was on morphine, telling me that God had forgiven her for not doing more for my Mom. This woman is doped up and dying and she’s talking about my Moms suicide. More anger boiling within me.

My Dad is still alive. He moved to Las Vegas. There was a point where he wouldn’t even come to California, it hurt too much. He’s not the same. He is, but it’s lurking just below the surface in him. He keeps some of my Moms things in boxes , sometimes he’ll go through them. The smell of my Moms things will bring him to tears.
They were having an argument. My Dad decided to leave and get them some food, take a break. He comes back 15 minutes later to find her on the floor near the front door. He walked into the apartment, sees her lying there, thinks she’s faking he says. His brain won’t accept what he’s seeing to be true. He sits down next to her and dials 911. The Police arrive but something’s not right. They’re handcuffing him and stuffing him into a Police car. They don’t know if it’s a murder? Here is a man that has just lost his best friend in life. Been together since they were 17. She’s dead and he’s handcuffed in a Police car!
My Dad exists I feel. I think he looks forward to the possibility that he may see my Mom some day. He carries so much guilt and sadness. So much so that in the first few years after my Moms death I honestly thought he might check out also.
To his day, I can’t talk to my Dad about my Mom without him breaking down so I choose for the most part not to. It will be with him until he dies. If I had to bet, my Mom will probably be his last conscious thought. I’m sorry Dad.

I am also dealing with the loss of my Mother. I have a lot of anger inside and I’m trying to process it all.
I grew up in Richmond, Ca. A ghetto/Port town. Rough. My Mom was fairly abusive emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. I have anger issues. Anger covers up my hurt. I grew up scared. Scared of my environment, scared of my Mom. I put on a costume at a young age. As I got older and bigger that costume wasn’t a costume anymore. 6’3 225lbs and arms covered in sleeve tattoos. Skulls, fire, barbed wire, iron crosses and Vikings. I became the costume. Army veteran, father, Maritime Captain. Angry.
I thought about suicide through the years. Actually went as far as how I would do it? Don’t want to leave a mess. Don’t want to fuck up and not get the job done. Maybe pills, just go to sleep. Easy. Wait, Mom tried that before, didn’t work. Don’t want to feel pain, had enough of that to last a lifetime. No pain. But here’s the kicker. So if I kill myself I’m done with the pain, right?
One persons pain. My Mom did that and it killed 2 people and caused more pain for the living that are left…..the aftermath.

There’s help. There are more people than you think that are having the same thoughts as you and they are closer than you think. You aren’t alone. There is help.
My hope is that in reading this I can help at least one person back off that ledge, but hopefully more. I have a 16 year old son that needs me. I have a Dad that needs me. I have a girlfriend that I’ve known since we were 16 who needs me. They all love me and need my love. I need to let them in, I need their love. I need to live.

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