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EMS, Patient Care

A Deep Sigh

He was tired.

So tired.

You could see it in his face and the way he lay on the floor.  The piles of pill bottles of varying contents and varying ages for various afflictions told a story he could not.

His life was all around him.

Tattered edges of sepia toned photographs showed a young child eager to live life.  Grainy greens and yellows share the photo with hints of rust where he and his buddies fought a war far away.  A posed portrait in an oversized neck tie and tuxedo with a beautiful young woman in white, her hairdo giving away their marriage was in the late 50s peaks from around the corner in the hallway.

My thoughts wandered to what he had seen over his years, what he had thought, why he had cried, what he laughed at and remembered above all things.

He was an avid reader, as told by the hundreds of books of varying topic, size and wear on enormous book shelves almost impossibly carried into this small apartment which is in none of the photos.  Clearly this was not where he lived his life, but just where he kept his stuff.

A Navy man, according to the diploma on the wall and class photo adorned with a number of medals, none of them I recognized from all the fancy ceremonies on TV.  A robe sits over the back of his desk chair, as if it lived there during the afternoons waiting for him to put it on to read.

On the desk is an envelope, sealed, with no writing on the outside to tell us where it came from.

The kitchen is immaculate, as is the bathroom and aside from books piled everywhere he kept this little slice of the world clean and organized.

That explains the towel.

For whatever reason, whether a memory from the sepia photographs, a ghost from the war or something more recent, he has taken his own life this morning, just after sunrise.

He lay the robe on the chair as he must have done ten thousand times, got dressed, had breakfast, did the dishes, pulled the revolver from wherever it was tucked away and lay out a large blanket on the floor.

Then, thinking not of himself but we who would find him, he rested down on a pillow, pulled a towel over his head and said goodbye.

The shot was heard by a neighbor who raced to the door to find it unlocked and ajar, we later arrived to confirm what he had already known.

It was over.  He was done.

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  1. Lynda April 29, 2011 3:59 am

    We need to have the right to decide when we are through. Why is suicide illegal?

    • Motorcop April 29, 2011 2:11 pm

      Suicide isn’t illegal. I think you may have meant assisting someone with suicide.

  2. Scribbles412 April 29, 2011 5:28 am

    one of the many things I struggle with everyday. PTSD, chronic diseases, new dx on top of that. People who say suicidal people don’t leave clues, they do you just over looked them

  3. Sam Bradley April 29, 2011 5:56 am

    Justin, this hit me right in the gut. I’ve seen this man too many times. You painted him very eloquently. I hope you can heal from the experience.

  4. Anonymous April 29, 2011 1:06 pm

    Tough call, suicides always get to me. Maybe it is my own history of depression, or maybe the frustration of someone in pain that went unnoticed. Either way, very well written. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Motorcop April 29, 2011 2:18 pm

    The timing of this is…well, I can’t conjur up the right word. My uncle shot and killed himself yesterday. (Not the same call as what you’ve described here…not even close). By all accounts, he’s always been troubled and we were estranged. Like I can count on my fingers and maybe a couple of toes the number of times I’ve laid eyes on the man in my lifetime.

    Still. The hard part was calling Dad two states away and telling him his brother is dead. My dept. handled the call. Luckily, it wasn’t me. I’m very not sure how that would have affected me.

    Let me preemptively thank you for your condolences. As I said, we weren’t close at all. Weird, though. I never considered the man family, but technically, he was. I’m more affected by my Dad’s emotions.

    I’d say everyone deserves the eloquent way you described the scene, brother. But, I don’t know that they do. I think we’re all well aware that not every scene is that well put together.

  6. BGMiller April 29, 2011 7:23 pm

    And somehow his acknowledgment of how his actions could affect others and his steps to make it as easy as possible for those who would come after makes it so much sadder.

    I can not second guess his decision. It may well be the only choice any of us truly have for ourselves. But even though I never met the gentleman I mourn his passing.

    Thanks HM for giving us this vignette.


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