Note: This is entry for The Letter ‘S’, and is Ryze’s contribution to The A-Z Blogging Challenge.
Note #2: I’ve no idea if this is ‘allowed’ but I’m going out on a limb because my friend D, who you may remember I wrote about in post ‘D‘, has truly bared her soul on topic ‘S’ – Suicide. Her story is powerful and I’m happy to share it here. I’ll be back tomorrow with letter ‘U’.
The call no one wants to get.
It was my father calling. He stated that he was unable to get in touch with my aunt and also had not received her usual weekly call the previous day. He called her place of work and they also had not seen or heard from her. Since my parents live in a different state than my aunt and myself, he asked if I could go to town and find her. I said I would, finished up my chores, and headed in to town.
Arriving at my aunt’s home, I did not receive a response by knocking on the door. There were no neighbors out and about to ask if they had seen her. Calling her home and cell phones, I only reached voice mail.
Returning my father’s call, I informed him that I had not found her at her home. He informed me that he had notified the police department that my aunt might be missing and they had performed a well care check at her home earlier in the day.
I proceeded to call the police department to get an update on the well care check. I was informed that they did not find anyone at my aunt’s home. I then filed a missing person report and asked for police assistance at the home as it was locked.
Darkness of evening fell on the valley.
Waiting in my pickup for the officer to arrive, the sun set and the temperature outside started dropping.
The officer arrived, requested my driver’s license for identification purposes and asked some questions concerning my aunt. We then proceeded to see if any doors or windows at the home might be unlocked. They were not. The house was locked up like Fort Knox, including a padlock on the backyard gate.
Since my aunt’s home was in a duplex type of neighborhood, the officer went to one of the neighbors where there were lights on to inquire if they had seen my aunt. The neighbor stated that he did not know her well, however, he had seen a moving truck on the property a few days earlier and they were packing up some of her belongings. The neighbor also pointed out which garage belonged to her, although he had not seen her entering or leaving it recently. The officer thanked him for his information, and told me I should try to locate her wherever she was moving to.
Moving? Who said anything about moving.
Quickly calling my father again, I explained to him that his sister was supposedly moving. My father was unaware of her moving, stating that he had an uneasy feeling and if she was moving, she would have told someone.
I asked the officer if we could possibly force entry in to the home. He called a locksmith and by 11:00 p.m. a key to the door was made.
Initially I was not allowed in the home. The officer wanted to look over the property first in case something had happened to her inside the home. Coming back to the front door where I was standing, he stated no one was in the home and it did in fact look like she was trying to move.
I entered the home and found it in disarray. Checking the home phone, there were numerous unanswered messages on it. As it was almost midnight, the officer said there wasn’t much more we could do at that point and I should try to contact friends and acquaintances in the morning.
Day 2 of searching for a missing aunt.
After taking care of a few tasks at my job and realizing that the Las Vegas trip was out of the question, I headed back in to town to my aunt’s home.
Rifling through paperwork and notes on her kitchen counter, I found names and numbers of friends and co-workers. After making many contacts, I was still not coming up with any information. It was as if my aunt had vanished.
I left the property, went to her bank and also a doctor’s office that she was a patient of. Neither of the businesses had seen or heard from her recently, and the bank stated that no recent transactions had taken place on her account. They informed me that they would stay in touch if any activity showed up.
Grabbing some lunch and allowing my cell phone to charge up, I made a plan for the afternoon: go back to the police department and ask for assistance to force entry into her garage. I needed to locate her car. As I was driving to the police department, my phone rang. It was one of my aunt’s acquaintances that I had contacted earlier in the day.
I explained to them who I was and that my aunt was missing. Stating that they had not seen or heard from her recently, I told them we had a missing person report out on her. Also letting them know my intentions of getting in the garage that afternoon, they stated that they had helped my aunt code the keyless entry on the garage door and they could probably get it open.
Heading back to my aunt’s home, I met her friends there. After a few tries, they got the door open. Inside we found my aunt’s SUV.
And the search is over, but the mystery begins.
Going to the driver side door of the SUV there she was, slumped over in the driver’s seat. Opening the door, we found her lifeless. Back on the phone with the police department, I explained our findings and asked for assistance immediately at the property.
Looking at my aunt’s lifeless body, there was no way to tell what had happened. As she was on many prescription drugs, my thought was a possibility of overdose.
As the authorities arrived, they went through the SUV. An investigator approached me while I was being questioned by another officer and asked what I knew about a handgun.
The investigator informed me that beside her on the seat was a pistol inside a wool gray and orange sock. My aunt had been shot through the heart.
It all did not make any sense, as when I initially saw her, you could not see any bodily harm.
The investigator also stated that her purse was in the SUV with valuables inside, along with her cell phone and an envelope addressed to my father. They felt that there really wasn’t a crime involved since her purse seemed to be intact. They turned the purse over to me, but took the other items with them for evidence while the autopsy was being performed.
The first answer in the mystery.
Final results of the autopsy were delivered to us stating that she in-fact took her own life, shooting herself in the heart with birdshot. That explained why she looked the way she did upon discovery.
The officers also released the envelope to my father. In it was the address and combination to a storage unit where the rest of her belongings could be found, nothing more.
But why? (And planning a funeral.)
As my parents made funeral arrangements, I, along with some much needed help from family members, started removing the remainder of her belongings at the home and emptied out the storage unit.
As my aunt was not one to throw anything away, there was a lot of stuff to go through. This was a huge task, however, it gave us answers.
The red flags were there, we just weren’t paying attention.
When someone in your life, whether it be a family member or just an acquaintance starts doing things out of the normal, pay attention. Statistics show that most people contemplating suicide will never speak about it to anyone.
In my aunt’s case, she had bankrupted herself and was homeless. She had never been a whiz at finances and usually someone in the family had to step in and straighten things out for her. Because of her pride, she chose to take her life rather than ask for help.
A note to any of you that might be contemplating the same route; ask for help, find your voice, speak up, because you have no idea how hard your suicidal intentions are on the ones left behind. Everyone has failures and no one is perfect. The day you find your voice and say, “I screwed up” instead of taking your own life and possibly the life of others, will be the first day of the rest of your life and doors will open for you. People will help you. It is in their nature.
If you have noticed a change in someone that really makes you uneasy, or just someone in the neighborhood not acting right, speak up. You might save lives.
Why’d I decide to write my story?
There are many debates about gun laws recently in the aftermath of Newton Shootings (ed note: a ignited once more due to The Boston Marathon Bombings), and I chose to speak up when the Huffington Post invited me to.
I held nothing back (from my story), and I also heard nothing back (from them). I felt it’d be a good fit for Ryze and I’m thrilled to debut here, share a personal tale, and hold spot ‘S’ for the #AtoZChallenge.
I really hope you enjoyed it, and if you have anything to share on the subject, we’d love to hear it
AUTHOR: "Dena" prefers to remain anonymous and let her work speak for itself, but when she’s not sharing deeply personal stories aimed at helping you in your own life, she’s helping people Discover Local And Online Auctions at her site: http://discoverlocalandonlineauctions.com/
(ed note: If you enjoyed this, you’ll probably enjoy another Ryze post that touches on suicide and other ‘dirty words.’