The Suicide of My Godson, Age 20, Part 3 of 3

During the wildfires of Northern California in 2017, he and his sister and mother, and their little community, were evacuees. They had been saved by the fortunate interference of a small mountain and a narrow river. His father had told him that he would know the end of the world was coming when the sky was red and filled with smoke. I wish I had known that he’d been told that before he died.

At the memorial, some one described him as “almost Byronesque”. He had such exuberance and willingness to inspire others with insights and joy, but such darkness deep inside himself. He would often retreat to his tiny house, and sleep for hours and hours. But only after building or fixing anything anyone needed. He made little money, but refused to even let me buy him a burrito.

What pains me most is the part about the end of the world. He decided the best thing he could do with impending global ecosystem collapse would be to eradicate his own being. To no longer take space from non-human animals. To no longer consume food or breath. No one told me this. I wish I could have told him, that to every animal he might save or protect, it would seem like the entire world. He could only think in the largest, most 3-dimensional pictures of the world, I guess. I’ll never know for sure.

The Suicide of My Godson, Age 20, Part 2 of 3

And yet he grew up being known as a laughing, affable dude, and very generous with his skills and his time. We lived a couple of hours apart, but I got to really talk to him when he was age 19. We hung out for about half a day, after I got to see him help put in a lighting or heating system. We agreed about so many things; I thought, perhaps the rigidity had disappeared. But the more we talked, I saw it again, his deep conviction that he understood life and people at an exquisite level of correctness.

In the years between his creation story and his carefully carried out death by hanging, he demonstrated he could be a great escape artist. He once walked home four or five miles from school with no shoes on, convinced the lessons that day were not for him. He slipped out of my grip, ran outside, climbed rapidly through a window in his room, and locked the door a few years later, when he didn’t want to go to school again.

The details of his dyslexia had been kept from me, and I was told not to concern myself, even though I seem to have a touch of it myself. His 3-dimensional skills in seeing a chess board and devastating his opponents came in when he was 14 or 15. He was a classic frustrated genius. Playing chess with me bored him instantly. He would win in several moves, and then look disgusted, exasperated. But there was no balance. He was humiliated when he had trouble reading, or writing and expressing his thoughts and feelings, but contemptuously superior when was sure he was right and others were wrong.

Continued …

The Suicide of My Godson, Age 20, Part 1 of 3

A suicide is unlike any other death in the family. I found that out the hard way, just before Thanksgiving in 2018. It’s because they go willingly, by their own hand. It’s horrifying to me that my godson made this choice. The guilt, shame, blame, mystery and bewilderment each compound each other upon the news. The grieving never ends. Even though in his suicide note he promised of missing him that “this too shall pass”. I doubt it ever will. I take some comfort in brain studies that show that a deep suicidal tendency may in fact be every bit as physical as a heart attack. Perhaps he had less choice than I’ve imagined.

It’s been 14 months, more or less to the day, as I write this. There are times I think I’m over it, in fact, so over it that I get more anxious feelings of guilt that I could dare to be. During his earliest years he was the bouncing blonde baby boy in my life. I learned to keep him safe, and let him share himself with me, as he discovered his toys and the world around him. But by the time he was four years old, I saw an early warning sign, that this kid’s going to be trouble.

But not in a malicious way. It’s just that, when he told me about the myth of the scarab beetle, and how it used dung to form the world, he lacked a certain four-year-old’s innocence. He told me, this is the way the heavens and earth began, with a conviction of belief, with a certainty of knowing, that was unsettling to me. There was no room for any other explanation.

His brow was furrowed. He had a dark expression. I have never seen anyone more determined to share what he was beyond sure what was true. He had the fanaticism of a cult leader many years older. He had such a stark rigidity in telling me this, that I saw no room to ask him any questions. I simply listened, in stunned silence, anticipating that this conviction of his own rightness would be an unwavering feature in future years.

Continued …

Did Harry and Meghan Leave? Or Just Realize ….

Imagine being Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, falling head over heels in love, pursuing and marrying a popular American actress, Meghan Markle, and then experience her undergoing clearly undermining and racist scrutiny from much of the press, the nation that you serve, and your own extended family.

Imagine, meanwhile, that your Uncle Andrew has been found out to be part of a tragically and deeply tawdry pedophile ring at an international level, then holding an interview in which he attempts to lie about his involvement in it, then almost certainly participate in a cover-up of his activities, while showing no genuine remorse for the young women who were scarred and manipulated, and then being told to stand down from his royal duties by Her Majesty the Queen.

How could Meghan and Harry not feel it incumbent upon both of them to stand down, as well, especially now that their child, Archie, has been born, with a clear desire to whisk him away from the same shaming and disregard that Meghan had been receiving, before Archie might be old enough to feel the brunt of it.

Imagine also being slighted or shunned by your older brother, Prince William, the actual heir apparent after your father Prince Charles, and your sister-in-law, Princess Kate, for having ideas, styles and behaviors that does not quite match their standards of behavior for being royals, from which they and their children stand to reap much greater focus of attention and personal reward in exchange for providing such services.

Imagine seeing that your wife, the American born Duchess of Sussex, has been performing her royal service with great enthusiasm and intelligence, but that attacks against her for being half black have not abated. Imagine how much you might feel that your family and your royal family are built upon colonialism and racism and extremely antiquated prejudices.

Imagine, also, that your mother was none other than Princess Diana, who had taught you intrinsic values of compassion, equality, and, even, social justice. And that Meghan’s mother Doria has been of a similar mind and heart, a social worker who ran a 5k on behalf of suicide prevention. Harry’s mother’s name and Meghan’s mother’s name, even sound quite the same, and if Diana were still here, we would likely see photos that show Diana and Doria confiding in one another and understanding each other, at least from time to time.

Now imagine if you feel like you’re actually up to it, up to being a standard bearer for something you’re really not a part of, and noticing how strong a pull your wife is feeling for returning to Canada, and to acting, and to making her own way as a modern woman. You might feel torn, of course, between your family and your wife, and between your nation and your duties, and especially between the reality of your situation and your intense loyalty to your comrades in the royal military.

But with just a little bit of soul searching, you can see the writing on the wall, enough to announce your departure, along with your wife, on social media, on Instagram, without further delays once the New Year had arrived.

How can you not at least try to make it on your own as much as possible from this point forward? Because how can you not feel alone, isolated from the rigidity and decay of your family, while still savoring the joy that being a part of it has brought you. One can almost imagine Harry channeling Diana, urging him from somewhere, to cling to his wife and child, and live a bit more modern, a bit more enlightened, though still quite wealthy and privileged life. And how could Meghan put up with another day of racial harassment, now that Archie has joined her and Harry in this mixed up, crazy world.