I have been offline since September 17 and I expect you wonder why. My brother took his own life on September 1, 2014 at 1600 hours. That is what the police report says. In my heart, it was August 31st, sometime after 6:00 p.m.
My friend, Kanzen Sakura, wrote a post to help with Sean’s passing. It is hard to believe, but the truth is he will be laid to rest on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, at 8:30 Hawaiian time, 11:30 Pacific Time, and 2:30 Eastern Time. All other time zones to squash and squish their way in….
I write this with tears flowing down my face. Perhaps the first I have shed. I am not one of those who can cry immediately upon receiving bad news. On the contrary, I do what needs to be done, and then once the burden can be laid down, then I take the time to weep gut wrenching sobs of the one I loved. Sometimes, I am lucky enough to be angry and have items at hand to throw in a sweeping rage at the unfairness of life. This time… not so much.
Sean took his life deliberately with full consciousness and utter inner peace. This is hard for those left behind. They want to cry out, “Wait! I should have a vote in this! You can’t do this! Don’t leave me!”
From the time he was 12 years old, Sean held firmly to the belief he had the right of free choice to take himself out of the game when he was done. Mind, he fully believed if it wasn’t part of God’s Plan then no matter what method he chose, it would not work. The ladder would break, so would the rope, the gun wouldn’t fire, the sleeping pills would fail, etc. He was at peace with all of that. Sean checked into a hotel in March to kill himself. There, I’ve said it. He was done. He wanted to go home to God. Period. He wrote or called me every few days…. I would receive emails, “I’ve bought three bananas, so you can stand down for the next three days….” What do you do with that?
All I can tell you is I stood by. I held out hope. I held out the belief that Life was a gift. He had reached the end of his rope. He was in physical pain from sciatica and degeneration of his spinal disks. He could sit for 30 seconds and then he had to stand, stretch, walk. There are few things you can enjoy in this life without sitting. You cannot read, you cannot work on a computer, you cannot watch TV. Those are the major activities of the day. I am not a believer in suicide. He came to visit me in May and I watched this man for two days. At the end of two days, I came around 180 degrees to understanding why he wanted to end it. Thirty seconds. He could sit for 30 seconds. Oh, S-Bo, my heart ached for you, watching the pain you were in.
Here’s the bottom line. He had no reason to get up in the morning. His two sons were across the country, living their lives. His favorite dog, Bellatricia… oh my God. That was the first time in his life that Sean experienced unconditional love. Going in and coming out. In truth, he would have married that dog if he could have. She got run over. (Do you hear the sound of a heart breaking?) He tried again with two other dogs. The second was specifically chosen for his youth and his good health. He died within two months of an unforeseen genetic anomaly. That was dog number two. Number three was a rescue female who only needed a spaying before the rescue people would allow Sean to adopt her. He took her in to be spayed. They opened her up. “Oh my. This dog has already been spayed.” They closed her up, but botched the job. She died of an infection a week or two weeks later. … Now, what do I tell that man?
He asked me via email if I would go over his estate documents with him on Wednesday. I said yes. During that conversation, I said, “Hey, you are my beneficiary. You know what that means. You have to stick around for a while.” There was a long pause. …. And then he said something to the effect of, “Yeah, about that…” I instantly railed against the sound of that finality in his voice. He was so at peace with his decision. It was not depression as many would want to believe. Not even close. He was sure he was going home to God and that it would be joyful.
He followed his plan. He checked into a hotel, having bought a gun – a .38. He had considered every method. Turns out there is a book about this committing suicide and which ways work and which do not. He bought special bullets that would not go through walls to hurt anyone else. He wrote a letter to the police, the coroner, etc., absolving the hotel, the staff, etc. of any wrong doing, that it was his free choice to end his life. He made sure they knew he would have preferred to go of Nebutol, the drug we use on our pets – clean, quick and peaceful. One breath to the next. It is consider illegal, so he went with the .38.
He checked into the hotel on Friday. I realized later he deliberately gave me the wrong name of the hotel. He was afraid I would weaken and call the cops to keep him from doing what he wanted to do. That was unfair. My belief is that we can do much to prolong life, but only if you want to be here. You must want to live.
We emailed and called one another. I insisted he treat himself to a spectacular dinner of his favorite foods – even if he could only sit for 30 seconds at a time. Where he was going, rumor had it that it was Spirit only, so he had better exercise every one of his senses. Saturday night he sent me an email titled, “I think I will spend one more night…” He included two photographs. One of the fine Japanese dinner he was having, and the other, a selfie, taken with this huge shit-eating grin, lifting his saki bottle in toast to us.
On Sunday, we swapped emails. “I’m going for a walk.” “I’m writing letters – it’s so much easier when there is no property to leave!” My responses ranged from, “I love you.” to “I want to drop kick you!” to “If you walk out of this hotel, do not ever do this to me again. This borders on sadistic.” His last response to me was, “Drop kick is good!”
It should be noted as I write this that my cat and my dog are crying pitifully at me as if to say, “Stop! Don’t write these words.”
About 6:00 p.m., Sunday evening, the emails stopped. At somewhere around 8:00 p.m., I wrote, “Are you still here?” No answer. In my heart, through our special connection, I knew S-Bo was gone. It would not be until 5:30 p.m. the next day before I received confirmation.
But, at about 10:00 p.m., that Sunday night, I was sitting at my computer, hoping for a response back from him. Nothing. All was quiet. And then… Suddenly, I had an image, a vision of a grassy area, and my view was of the back of his dog, Bellatricia, her beautiful ears suddenly pricking forward, one foot coming up in the pointing position. She was gazing up at the Rainbow Bridge and she could see something, someone… She took off running. She’s a German Schnauzer – one of the 17 lbs. ones, salt and pepper. She flew across the ground as though it was nothing to traverse the space and met him, crossing the bridge. There he was. In his jeans, tennis shoes, and a polo shirt of some kind. She leapt into his arms and he closed his arms around her – tight -and held on with everything a man can when he has come home. The joy on his face as she kissed him and licked him from chin to forehead – oh….
Mind I don’t know if this is true, but for me, I take it as a gift from Sean, who wrote me, “Don’t be afraid to talk to me, Pooh, when I’m gone. I’ll just be listening from a higher altitude, and I will be here to help always. And, I love candles!” He knew I always lit candles for those that passed or for those who needed a special prayer.
Days later, I went through the bins he had left with me. One of which contained photos. One is now on my fireplace mantle. It is of Sean and Bellatricia in their first days together. He made a special portrait of it. It is in a solid frame, and the photograph shows the two of them, sitting on a couch together – either in total bliss or utterly shitfaced. The caption reads: “My Vow to Bellatricia” and underneath the photo is:
“I will accept you as you are, unconditionally love you, protect you, work and play and grow with you, and together we will form a living, loving bond. Help me God!”
Tomorrow, at 11:30 a.m., Pacific Coast time, I will light a candle in honor of my brother, Sean Edward Duggan 1948 – 2014, and lift a glass to toast the life of a man I loved dearly and whose absence is felt as I wonder what I am waiting for. I am listening for the phone to ring and then realize, once again, that will not happen. I was lucky enough to be given advance warning. I was furious with him and said, “Well, fine! But I just erased all the messages I saved from you in chase of this. So, now, you must call me back and leave a voice mail for me, so I can hear your voice when I am lonely and need you.” He did, immediately. Of course, I picked up, thinking he had something else to say. “No, I’m leaving you a voice mail!” And, to this day, I have that saved email, talking of how much he loved me, and my wonderful dog, Ella, and Elby, That Cat, who he insisted on calling “Elbow.” It is a wonderful, loving message and I am so thankful I have his voice to hear on those days you just need to hear from someone you love.
Rest in Peace, S-Bo.