It has been two days now almost exactly since I found out my son was dead.
I have cried endless, racking tears of despair and loss.
I have questioned every aspect of my life and found it wanting.
At first I was just incredulous. It was literally unbelievable. Martin was poised on the brink of becoming. His body was perfect and beautiful. His mind razor sharp. On his military entrance tests he scored a perfect 99% (the highest possible score in every category). Martin has always been very well mannered and polite. People have complemented his behavior to me on many occasions all throughout his life.
He was successful in the USMC and liked it. He was working diligently on homework and had excellent grades in school. He seemed in all ways to be in the best of spirits, everything was going his way.
Martin did not exhibit any of the signs of an impending suicide. I say that not just as a father, but my wife is mobilizing to go to Afghanistan (she is shipping to Ft Bennings at the end of April) and had just completed a suicide prevention class. Even looking back with hindsight there are no signs we can point to and say, “yes he was depressed, or …”
One curious thing that has happened during the last 48 hours. I didn’t want anyone to miss the chance to say goodbye to Martin so I have directly notified at least 2 dozen people about Martin’s death. Each case followed the exact same pattern.
First is questioning? Are you joking.
Then horrified disbelief as they realize I am serious.
Then even more horrified disbelief when I tell them it was a suicide.
Next come the recriminations and guilt.
Breaking this news to others means that each time it is like I am finding out myself for the first time, over and over again. Each time I am overwhelmed anew with the horror and the bitter grief of it.
And each time I go through this I accept the reality of it more and more. I no longer need to see his body to believe he is dead. I no longer wonder if this is all some elaborate hoax and if he is going to jump out of a closet and say “Surprise!” (no matter how much I fervently pray that this is the truth). I am gradually coming to acceptance of what has happened even as I bitterly regret that it happened.
Some of his school friends came by today. They wanted to visit the lake where he ended himself (200 yards from my home). I met them there and left them to grieve in their own way. Once they had resolved whatever they could there I invited them up to the house. I said “a shared joy is magnified and a shared pain is lightened, so let’s go share some joy.” They played boisterous video games and ate and drank the way teenagers are supposed to do. It felt good to hear laughter sound out inside my house again and to see innocent faces relaxed from the unnatural grief caused by my son’s passing.
Martin burned very brightly in his short life and I am so glad he was a part of my life. Even with all the pain I am in now, I much prefer that pain to never having known him.
I remember holding him on one arm and feeding him minutes after he was born.
I remember when he was 1 year old and had problems with gas. He was unable to go to sleep unless I held him in my arms and rocked him back and forth. I stood over his crib and rocked him to sleep every night for over a year.
I remember his first song. I was changing his diaper one morning (he must have been around 2-1/2. He was laying back in the changing station and was just happy as could be. While I was changing him, he started singing “twinkle twinkle little star” to me. That is a moment I will remember till the day I die.
I remember him doing “dismounts” from his swing. He was always very gifted physically. He would swing as high as he could and twist and turn as he was falling landing with his legs crossed, or one arm up like holding an object. He called his best one “Chinese Dragon Drinking Tea.”
I remember 100’s of workouts as he determinedly turned his body into a true physical specimen.
He was truly beautiful in both body and spirit and all who knew him recognized this and was drawn to it. Martin was honorable and never used his considerable powers of charm and persuasion to take advantage of someone. He could have had any girl he wanted, but I am firmly convinced that he died a virgin, by his own choice. Mostly because his focus on what he was trying to accomplish was so great that he was unwilling to risk doing anything to compromise it. Martin was a truly exceptional individual and I feel both privileged and humbled to have known him.
All that Martin was and ever was going to be is now finished and done. I am going to memorialize my son on Wednesday, at 3:00 PM, March 13 at the Innis Wood Metro Gardens in Westerville OH. Anyone who is able and feels the need is welcome to come.
Peace to you all and may God bless your and your families.