So Grandma Killed Herself
But before we deal with this darkness in an inappropriately upbeat way, if you go aaaaaallll the way back to the second page of this story, you’ll find the story of my outdoor socks. Another thing that would come back to haunt me in an eerily similar way was the fact that I at some point in time had followed my grandma into the bathroom and when she was done with whatever she was doing, I, according to the legend, said: “But that went so well, grandma.” Luckily to this day, I have no memory of this whatsoever. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep… or masturbate. Unluckily, this has been quoted back to me more times than I can remember, much to my chagrin. But it hasn’t happened once since she took a bunch of pills, put a plastic bag on her hand, and put it over her face till she bled from the ears. There’s an upside to everything.
I might have my issues with my mother, but my grandma wasn’t easy either. Maybe I should’ve talked to her about how I was feeling since she was obviously feeling similarly in a lot of ways. There was barely anything we could connect over, maybe wanting to die could’ve been one. We could swap ideas, you know, piano string or your ordinary noose, painkillers or sleeping pills or alcohol or a mix of everything, jumping, either in front of a train or from a building or from a bridge, the possibility of getting ahold of a firearm and how to get it into your mouth properly. I know this way of thinking is insane by any ordinary standards, but I really think that I like her more after what she did. She started a shitstorm and offed herself. It makes me want to look up at the sky and wink, even though that doesn’t make any scientific sense.
She did go out with a bang. She was a part of one of those weird Illuminati-ish cults. It was called The Order of the White Rose, they had weird titles, robes and liked to divide themselves into sections depending on gender and how long you had been in the cult or some shit. She had somehow reached quite a high position in her regional section of this cult, like secretary of something or other. Then she had managed to have a disagreement with the head of the entire national organization, a man who looked like the embodiment of arseholery.
He made it so that she was forced to leave her post. It was the last straw for her, life-wise. Her man had been dead for years, she was in a lot of physical pain, and mentally she had been putting on a happy face to hide her depression for the last I don’t know how many years. Probably decades, if not half a century. She wrote a letter which literary started with “When you read this, I will be dead,” and made sure that was true. I mean, that’s got to take some major cojones. That shit doesn’t happen in real life until it does. The head of the organization almost had to resign, but not quite. If he actually resigned, would it really be a cult at all? Then again, I don’t think they would call it a cult. I don’t think anyone who’s in a cult knows they’re in a cult unless they’re on their way out.
When my grandma’s old guy died, I just felt: Finally! He really needed to die. I felt neither here nor there about the man, I could barely understand what he was saying, that’s how thick his accent was. And it only grew thicker with age. I wasn’t sad about his death, I just really didn’t care. But he was really old and didn’t have much dignity left. I walked in on him in the bathroom once, only for a fraction of a second before I managed to back away and close the door, but I saw that his thigh was wrapped in a bandage that could only mean that his skin was giving up on doing what skin is supposed to do. When she passed, I had the same kind of the same feeling but not in the same way. She killed herself. She was 75 years old and very, very sad, and in a lot of pain, so it was okay. She had tried at least twice before back in the seventies so my impression of events wasn’t Surprise!! She’s saaaad!! It was closer to Oh well, that was bound to happen.
How my mother remains to be a happy-go-lucky person, completely unable to understand mental health issues continues to boggle my mind. It’s like she’s ignored vast parts of her own life, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about her life. But it must have been sheltered, I mean for fucks sake, she still gets upset when she reads about terrorist attacks in the paper. Like she hasn’t realized the world sucks yet, despite having lived in it for almost 60 years. I renamed the Chromecast in the living room “The angst” and she looked at me completely bewildered like she didn’t know what the word meant.
My dad might also be shallow emotionally but at least he has the slightest capability of being fucking depressed once in a while. My own lack of understanding for my mother’s emotions has come to such a level that when she cries after dad and I come home from walking on the ice in the middle of the night, I’m not entirely sure she’s crying because she was so worried we’d drown, despite the fact that she said that was what she was upset about. Intellectually I can understand that’s what upset her, but mentally it doesn’t seem real, because none of her other emotions does.
They just look like a house of cards built in the periphery of my mind to drive me insane. Someone whose own mother tried to kill herself repeatedly in the seventies when the person in question was just past the age of ten HAS to have become more emotionally and mentally fucked than what my mother is today. I just do not understand how her life has led her to the person she has become. Then again, that lack of understanding probably is based on a lack of knowledge. At least I hope it is. Because if it’s not, what the fuck is actually going on?
When we found out that grandma was dead and how she had been found, the police coming to the obvious conclusion that they had a suicide on their hands, dad said that he would never be able to do that, he would never even consider it. He didn’t understand how anyone would. I said I understood her completely. I regretted opening my mouth as soon as I had said it. It was unnecessarily dramatic and he must be one of the least capable people when it comes to handling mental health issues. He looked at me in a weird way.
Maybe he never realized what went on during my formative years, when I didn’t exactly openly acknowledge that death would be lovely, but just about. Or maybe he just didn’t want it to be like that, so his brain made it so it never happened. Great solution. My dad is obviously very into the idea of me not being dead. Which is understandable, I guess. Likewise, I’m into the idea of him not being dead, which is the closest I’ll ever get to say that I love the old bastard. My physical growth may not have been stunted, but my ability to express genuine emotion most certainly was. Sincerity is terrifying.
A few months later, my dad’s older brother shut himself in one of his many apartments and drank himself to death. He was a workaholic, nothing was ever good enough. He was probably still trying to satisfy their dad, who died in 1971. The dad who beat him a lot when he was growing up. He never seemed to be able to settle down from that. He was running ever since, and I guess one day he just got tired of running. But what the hell do I know? I never really talked to him. He mostly made me uncomfortable anyway.
I’d say there’s a higher than average level of darkness within my extended family. My maternal grandfather only ended up with his current partner because both of their previous partners died. His partner (I don’t know if they were married and I’m not gonna ask), who he was with after divorcing my grandmother, died of cancer, or something along those lines. Because of this, he was able to be okay with spending time with a woman who early on did nothing but cry about her dead husband, who guess what: that’s right, he killed himself! I feel like three suicides if you count self-imposed alcohol poisoning, in your extended family has to be above average. I have no numbers on this, so I can’t be sure.
What I can be sure of, is that I should keep dad out of my own suicidal loop. Then I’ll feel less guilty if I ever decide to fall off the fashion runway with the latest Calvin Klein noose around my neck. I really shouldn’t feel guilty about having these thoughts. After all, it runs in the family. For me, I think a mix of alcohol and painkillers would be a nice tribute to the family tradition when I finally choose to make my exit.
I wrote the following the day before Christmas Eve 2014, the day we found out grandma had ducked out: So, grandma killed herself today. Or yesterday. Or the day before that. It’s Tuesday, and mom was last in contact with her on Sunday, so she’s probably been dead for about two days. Painkillers and old meds from when Birger, her dead husband/partner/man, was alive. Mom cried and hugged grandpa. It was odd seeing him emotional like this. He always had a kind of swagger to him, he always looked like he walked to some non-existent beat. Or maybe it was arthritis that made him a bit stiff and inadvertently made it look like he was constantly an old man walking in a music video.
Grandma made a class journey and clung to what was left of it once her man with a hefty pension passed on. She was a bit classier than the rest of us, and I’m pretty sure our unclassiness bothered her a bit. When my mom was about to turn fifty, she said: “Now, you’ll have to lady up a bit.” Basically saying “Put on some make-up, stop dressing like a man, and act like a daughter I would have raised and not like someone raised by wolves.” My mom said she would never “lady up a bit,” she was already as much a lady as she was ever going to be. Mom also split one of her front teeth once and before she could go to the dentist to fix it, she had a night out planned with her mother. She said later that it was clear grandma was uncomfortable with being seen with someone who was missing part of one of their front teeth.
Grandma was quite a complicated person who rarely, if ever, let on how she really felt about anything. I think I saw it once. She had tears in her eyes one hot summer’s day, when she finally told my mother in how much pain she was, physical pain that is. I’m sure they’ve commiserated about that before, I’ve just never been in the room when it happened. I guess she couldn’t hold it in anymore. I didn’t know how to deal with it, I don’t think I even tried to deal with it, I just let the moment pass without much thought or action.
When your grandma asks if you’ve been seeing any girls, what does she want to hear?
“Ah yes grandma, I’ve been knee-deep in muff.” If I had said that to my grandma, she’d get a heart attack and die. Maybe that’s what she was hoping for. When my grandma asked me if I was seeing any girls, my brain short-circuited a bit. I think it bothered me that she was so incredibly unable to see me for the lonely dork I was. You might think it was nice of her to look upon me and see someone who might get into other people’s pants, but in my pathetic victimization of myself, it felt like she was mocking me.
Ah yes, don’t I look like a guy who’s drowning in pussy. I’ve got so much pussy I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve got a tube (subway ya yanks) pussy, a pussy that I just play with on the tube. A bus pussy, a laundry room pussy, a toilet pussy, pussy everywhere, I thought. Out loud, I just murmured something non-committal.
She dealt in positive reinforcement, the mother of my mother did. I lost a bit of weight. Before the weight loss, she would hug me and be annoying as always. But when I had slimmed down a little she would go on and on about how good I looked. It was so obvious. “Now that he is no longer fat, I may say that he does indeed look fantastic.” I may have paraphrased that a bit. My pathetic victimhood strikes again. She even said to my cousin in front of my face that: “He’s quite a catch, isn’t he?” In the middle of the incredibly creepy conversation, my dad shouted: “Think of the children!” He doesn’t want grandkids with three eyes. I get that.
I have three female relatives that are around the same age as I am. One sister and two cousins. And I get on much better with them than any of my male relatives, mostly because I never ever see my male relatives so I don’t really know who they are as people. Both of my female cousins are on my mother’s side. As such, they too had just lost their grandma. Having all struggled in the mental health department, we came to similar conclusions. We all essentially agreed that grandma had made the right decision in offing herself. We all realized to some extent what she might have felt like, and that death was very much a viable solution.
I don’t think our parents felt the same way. There’s something about people born in the sixties and their incapability of understanding the pros of suicide. I feel like most people born in the sixties would never kill themselves because it would never enter their minds as an option in the first place. When it comes up, they’re confused, unable to see how anyone could even think of such a thing. They’re able to be sad, the people born in the sixties. But not properly. They left that to us. And we took that baton and ran like hell with it. Some of us even ran to hell with it.
There were a lot of people at the funeral. People from the weird cult were there, a large group of older women in black moving in a pack, it looked kind of odd. One of them said a few words at the head of the coffin but nothing memorable. As I was sitting there, I couldn’t stop myself from imagining grandma crawling out of the coffin and coming over and sitting down next to me to have a chat. I felt much more connected to her in death than I ever had in life. Simply because she killed herself and I thought that was cool because I’m a sad emo cunt. And of course, when she was dead, she only existed in my head, which meant I could decide what she was going to be like. This helped quite a bit.
I wasn’t completely hallucinating, I was still in this world, my dead grandmother was just an addition to it, and no one but me noticed her slowly opening the coffin, the lid clanging to the floor with a dull thud which echoed throughout the church, the flowers falling apart on the stone floor aged by the centuries from the start of its construction around the year 1200. She came hobbling over to me, white in the face but her makeup perfect as always, blood still seeping from her right ear. I couldn’t help but smile, my daydreams tended to be dark, but this was something else. And of course, I glorified being insane and different and dark and brooding, as all wannabe emos and goths do.
I didn’t wear the uniform of long black hair, face piercings, tight black clothing, and that particular taste in music, but in a lot of ways I was one of them. We were sitting on the first row since we were the immediate family, which felt weird because everyone else seemed to be sadder. As everyone made their way to and from the coffin to say their goodbyes and leave another flower on the coffin, I had to force my face into an expression more appropriate for the occasion as they all tended to look our way and give us a solemn nod. I felt like I should at least try to look somewhat grief-stricken. This became harder as I began talking to grandma as her dead self sat down next to me.
“How are things now that you’re dead?”
“So much better,” she said smiling at me in a way I had never seen before. It was real, rather than forced and acted, though I had never noticed any acting in life, she was so good at seeming fine. Now I thought I was able to see a sense of real relief on her face.
“I so get that,” I said. She held my hand. The color and warmth in her hand replenished as I took it. “Hey grandma, there’s no afterlife, right?”
“Of course not, don’t you worry. If there was, I’d be fucking pissed.” Chuckling, I looked down onto the floor to hide my face, I was at a funeral after all.
I never thought I was alone in wanting to end it all. I know there are a lot of us who feel like shit. I know we all are thinking about ending it whenever we can muster the courage. Some of us already have, others are doing it as you are reading this. I’m incredibly aware that I’m a part of a generation uniquely struck by mental illness. If we are all feeling like shit, why do we feel so alone in feeling like shit? It’s because it’s not like anyone’s going to go up to someone and say: “Hey! I feel like shit, I’m sure you do too, do you want to hang out and feel like shit together?” Because we have somehow all agreed that that would be fucking weird.
Dad and I always struggle when we’re forced to be around people who are expressing sincere feelings of any kind, positive or negative. We’re almost unable to go up to anyone grieving and say “I’m terribly sorry for your loss.” Although in this particular case, that would be an odd thing to say since…
“It’s your loss too.”
“I’m terribly sorry for our loss?”
“What he said,” I would chime in, trying to end the conversation and casually walk away whistling. By simply looking at each other, we had this conversation at grandma’s funeral:
“Everyone else is crying, are we supposed to cry too?”
“I haven’t cried in forty-five years, I don’t even know how to.”
“Same. Not the forty years thing, but I don’t know how to cry.”
“Are you actually sad?”
“Cool, let’s just stay out of the fray and try not to cause any trouble.”
When it was finally our turn to walk up to the coffin, I was behind mom and Clara. Mom was first to make it to the head of the coffin, hundreds of eyes on her. She stopped just before she was supposed to take a step forward and add a flower to the small mountain of flowers already on the coffin. She opened her mouth and spoke slowly.
“My mother…” That’s all I can remember her saying. The pause after the word “mother” was so long and Obama-esque that I immediately fell into another daydream where it was the 44th president speaking at my grandmother’s funeral and not my own mother. My mom has a few qualities that the rest of the family lacks that come in useful in regular society. She can speak in front of a crowd with a presence and poise that is actually rather impressive and she can interact with large groups of people without seeming quiet and weird while actually thoroughly enjoying it. Qualities the rest of us mock while sniggering in a corner.
Anyone who contemplates suicide is always told “But what about the people who love you???” which is kind of a garbage thing to say to someone who wants to die. You’re just making them feel guilty about the way they feel and therefore they might be more likely to off themselves just to escape their own mental hell. When you’re telling someone, who is about to leave for some one-on-one party-time with the grim reaper, to think about their loved ones, please take into account that they might not be what you would call entirely human.