Sunday, February 13, 2011

A 10-year-old note

The build-up to the 10th anniversary of my dad's suicide has been fairly quiet emotionally.  I didn't even think about it much until the past week, although it has haunted me over the weekend.  Yet, I didn't feel like rehashing the event in detail, as I have in the past.  If you are interested, you can read about it here.

My thoughts have been most focused on the notes my dad left.  He left 10 of them.  Randy Cecil was nothing if not a planner.  He knew exactly what he was doing and planned everything, even burning a disk of music he wanted played at his funeral.   Out of the 9 personalized notes, the envelope with my name on it read, "Jason, Mom, Dad, and Judy".  I didn't get my own note, which has bugged me.  As his only son, I thought I deserved a note of my own.  Perhaps he couldn't face the prospect.  He adored my grandparents, so perhaps it was just easier to lump me into a note for them and his sister, my Aunt Judy.

Anyway, by the bedside table, Dad left the following note (italics indicate something written in my dad's handwriting):

February 13, 2001  5AM


To Whom It May Concern:

I took my own life without the knowledge or assistance of anyone.  I used prescription drugs that I saved over time without my doctor's knowledge.  Please notify Pam Cecil at 381-3332 (work) or 266-1591 (home) and Michelle Harr at 243-4882 (work), 312-4409 (mobile) or 223-4403 (home).  Do not notify my parents or son as I prefer Pam or Michelle to do that.

Please give my will to Michelle Harr as she is my executor.

Randal H. Cecil
Randal H. Cecil

My physician is Dr. James Borders.
My therapist is Jacky Thomas.


I was struck at how, even at the moment of his impending suicide, Dad wanted to be sure that no one got into trouble because of his actions.  He explicitly clears his medical doctor and therapist of any professional blame.  And that was the right thing for him to do.  I worked with Jacky to try to save him, and he fooled her in the end just as he fooled me.

Of course, the police had to open and read all of the suicide notes, even though mine was marked:  "ONLY FOR  Jason, Mom, Dad & Judy     Personal"


This note read:

February 13, 2001

Dear Jason, Mom, Dad, and Judy,

I'm so sorry to cause you this pain, but I could not erase my pain any other way.  I love you all very much.  Please do not blame yourselves as you did all you could do.  Please also know that I tried very, very hard for a long time to get well and could not.  The pain hurts just as much, if not more, now than it did at first.  Please do not blame anyone else either.  Please forgive me.

It is my strong desire to be cremated and my ashes scattered here in Lexington at Raven Run Sanctuary.  I do not want my body displayed!  Just have my picture instead (the one I gave to Jason and Judy at Christmas).  I would like a memorial service here in Lexington so that my friends can attend. I prefer not to have a minister or priest speak, just my friends and family.  I created a CD of John Denver and Judy Collins music that I would like played at the memorial please.

As for my guitar and recordings, Judy, please let Jason have first pick.  Also, I want my John Denver vinyl records and videos to be sent to Linda Symons in Australia.

Jason, please know that I am very proud of you and love you more than I can ever say.  Please be strong, take care of your mother, and live a good life.

I've got to go.

Love,
Randal (Dad)
Randal

Dad had a really bad habit of signing cards and such to me with his name followed by "(Dad)" as if I needed the hint.  LOL

The note itself is kind of impersonal, but I think it was difficult for him to write.  He didn't get all of his wishes in the 2nd paragraph.  I felt that since he had committed suicide, there were somethings we were going to compromise for the sake of his survivors, and if he didn't like that....tough.  I did have him cremated, and became a HUGE fan of cremation in the process.  When I die, I hope to be cremated myself.  But, I only scattered half of his ashes at Raven Run Sanctuary with my mom.  The other half I had placed into a cremation burial box, and buried it in the family plot in Dickson.  My grandparents, especially, needed a place to visit my dad's remains.  Someplace they knew a part of him lay.  And since they will be buried next to him, they will always be close together.

The other compromise I enacted was having his body on display for family only before the visitation for friends and others.  I know I wanted alone time with him, open casket, and I knew my family did too.  I made sure we all had a few minutes alone with him to say whatever goodbyes we needed to say.  It gave me a sense of peace, and I'm sure it helped everyone else too.  For the general visitation, though, his casket was closed with a picture on top.  His death was not gruesome at all.  After he took his anti-anxiety meds on top of the screwdrivers he'd been drinking all night as he wrote the suicide notes (computer time stamps told the tale), he put on an allergy mask and then tied two trash bags around his neck, securing them with rubber bands.  He suffocated within 30 minutes.  I guess he just didn't want to be gawked at.

It's no secret that my lack of having someone unrelated to me who loves me enough to want to spend his life with me, and I with him, drives my depression cycles and sometimes leads to outright despair.  But one thing about being a suicide survivor is that you know what it means to be left behind.  It also takes suicide away as a potential choice, no matter how badly I might feel someday.  I've lived through the devastation that haunts us to this day.  There's a hole in the hearts of many people in my dad's life that will never be filled because of the way he left us.  I don't think he anticipated that, or that we'd still care 10 yrs later.

But it is 10 years later, and I still do mourn for him.  I think about him.  I still miss him.  But I do pray he's at peace.

2 comments:

Swamp Thing said...

I had no idea. This sucks. I have been to some dark, dark places but have never been to the one at which your Dad found himself. I'm glad. And I'm glad you haven't been quite there either J.

I don't know if I will understand the sickness any better than you do, or can, or will, but I know that I value life - every day - in a way that I now know will never lead me to that place where a person is putting things straight for their departure at their own hands. I am thrilled to have that confidence, even on my worst days.

I hope that you find that confidence too, if you have not already. Each day is worth living. No matter what comes of our souls, we will not experience things the way we do as living human beings. To touch, smell, to fear, to rejoice. So it's incumbent on us (I believe) to maximize our time here, no matter how good or bad, or sad. I think God wants that for us.

I hope that as time passes, you can use this crushing experience as a way to focus your own time on earth as positively as possible - to understand (perhaps morbidly so, as I sometimes do) the uniqueness of individual places, situations, conversations. Whether they are beautiful or awful. You are already doing it! And as a result, how could your dad NOT be proud?

I don't know how to compartmentalize a thing like this. I just hope that you keep processing it and moving forward with your life - make it a long and wonderful one!

km

Juliana-Chairwoman said...

Jason,

I don't have many words to share about this sad sad time for you and your mom.

But you will meet someone who will be special, fabulous and good to you! I have every confidence.

Hugs, and big sloppy kiss.