Writing 101 wants us to focus on a single 24-hour period of time with no backstory, flashbacks or foreshadowing. And right now, you still remain my most recent trigger so, Baily, this one is again inspired by you.
The winds were howling like nothing I’d seen in Seattle before. Sure, I had witnessed tropical rains and storms in other parts of the country but this storm, this felt different. The row of tree trunks just 12-feet’s reach from my porch swayed to and fro. Oaks, huge solid oak trees and a single unexpected Redwood, their trunks stretching first to the right and then to the left a good four feet from center while enormous branches broke and crashed to the ground’s floor, the smaller branches and leaves taking flight in the whirling winds that screamed their anguish through our ears. It was frightening but more than that it was awesome. Not awesome in the cool way. But awesome in the powerful way that leads to devastation. We were stunned into silence watching the fury of nature. I stood there staring and wondering which tree would rip the roof off of my life. As it turned out, only one tree fell with explosive concussions. The tree that ripped the roof of our house that day came only moments later, in a telephone call.
“Is this Memee?”
It was only three words, yet something didn’t seem right. It didn’t feel like an unsolicited sales pitch, a bill collector, or a survey taker. With weary I replied.
“Yes, who’s this?”
I didn’t catch her name. Did she even tell me her name? I’m not sure. I just felt sick and didn’t know why. I heard her words, “Joan’s sister.”
I panicked. Joan, my best friend, oh my God why was this woman calling me?
“Joan! Oh my God, is she okay?” (Joan is my best friend and I love her like a sister. She is family. Her sons are my son’s brothers. Our oldest boys best friends.)
I immediately sobered up unaware for the first time of the massive storm wailing around me.
“Let me turn off the music.”
I was stalling. I needed to sit down. I knew I had to sit down before she said what she called to say. My son, standing just five feet away standing still as a reinforced cement freeway stanchion, a blank stare on his face. He wasn’t on the phone with me but he felt it. He already knew to his soul the words I was about to hear. The music off. I took a deep breath with a prayer in my heart.
“Okay.” I said.
“Baily killed himself.”
The words tore through me as if it was my own son, the son I could see standing before me. In that instant I broke into five billion pieces and then some. I held it together for this woman on the other end of the phone. This woman that was tasked with spreading the news of her beloved nephew’s heartbreaking fate. When I hung up, I looked at my son standing there just steps away knowing yet not knowing. How would I tell him that the person he is closest to in the world would not be his roommate next year in San Francisco, would not be joining in the Mongol Rally they’d been planning for years, would not be standing beside him at his wedding, would not laugh with him or cry with him ever again.
I looked up.
“It’s Baily. He’s dead. He killed himself. I’m so, so sorry, baby!”
And then we brokedown and cried. And cried. And cried. We still cry. We will always cry for your loss and for ours. We miss you.
Baily attended Washington State University where he was majoring in Nuclear Forensics and hoped to help maintain global stability through his work. Always known for his ready smile and gentle demeanor, he was forever ready to lend a hand to anyone in need. He will forever be missed by those that were lucky enough to befriend him and served as a role model to his neighbors and classmates. His strong work ethic was witnessed by all those around him during his 8 summers spent processing fish in Alaska – Legacy.com
Please don’t take your life. Isolation is deadly. Call someone. And if you’re scared to call a friend or family member, please call a hotline or text one! Please do not try to get through “it” on your own. There is no shame in your anguish, pain, and distress.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans they understand your experiences are different. Press 1 for a line dedicated just to you.
GLBT National Youth Talk (afternoons & evenings M-S only): 1-800-246-7743
Crisis Text Line 24/7: Text “Go” to 741-741 to get started
If you were touched by this post, perhaps you will see it in your heart to go to the family’s Go Fund Me account and make a donation to fulfill a dream that Baily shared with his younger brother Ben. Baily & Ben’s Bee Sanctuary. Funds will be spent on hives and organic fields for bees to recover from their exposure to toxins, planting organic flower gardens, and providing a place for visitors to enjoy the fruits of their labor.