(In memory of Ms Gloria Jean Smart)
I remained hospitalized for 16 days, most of which was in the psych ward, held by the State of Nevada as suicide risk.
In the mornings we awoke to the blood pressure cuff, for vitals signs were foremost to the program. We marched to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We played percussion instruments for about one hour and had group therapy before lunch. We met with social workers in the PM and a doctor once a week.
In the evenings we colored and painted in the art room. We had a jello snack later as we watched TV in the break room. Our names were called and we reported for our nightly medication before retiring.
“Mr. Hand… why are you here?”
“Well Dr. Singh, I was just having trouble with my eyes, you see.”
“Your eyes, Mr. Hand… what sort of eye trouble were you experiencing?”
“Well, I just couldn’t see myself staying on Earth for one more day.”
“You’re joking, aren’t you?”
“And yet I’m still here, Doc.”
“Do you wish to harm anyone?”
“No, I certainly do not wish to hurt anyone; live and let live, I always say.”
“Do you wish to harm yourself?”
“Why, absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth; me, I’m just in love with love itself… aren’t flowers wonderful, Dr. Singh?”
And so it went, feeling like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption at his parole hearing.
When released from the hospital, I was homeless and without transportation. I had a sum of nearly $150 cash in my pockets. My wife had cancelled my credit and bank cards. I managed to recover my truck late in the evening. I went to get a hotel room at the nearby Hampton Inn. It was where I first stayed in Las Vegas a few nights some 16 years ago.
At the Hampton I would use my Spyderco serrated edge knife to slit my wrists in the bathtub, you know, just like they do in the movies. I would remain fully clothed in the tub though, not naked like those losers in the movies. I couldn’t fathom where the dignity lay in dying naked. It was just a movie thing, I pondered. I didn’t need Hollywood to impart on me the details of my suicide. I would retain my pride and modesty to the very end.
A twice failed attempt to get a motel room left me dumbfounded. The establishments would not accept cash American tender paid in full. Credit card or debit card only. I had neither. I sat once again in my faithful truck. I would not bleed out there and disgrace it… but now I officially lived there. Send all inquiries to: George Edward Hand IV, Care of: George’s Truck, Las Vegas, NV. I sat with my hands on the steering wheel, as if driving, and a thing tapped me on my shoulder. I didn’t even need to look; I knew what was there.
My daughter Cynthia Gale was born on March 10th 1985. Her mother Gloria and I lived in a small house in Olympia, WA. I was with the Green Berets 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and was deployed extensively. I was vexed by the fact that my wife could not handle our baby daughter Cynthia by herself. We resorted to granting custody of our daughter to her aunt, who is benevolent beyond Earthly standards. Cynthia Gale was just three years old when she left to live at her aunt Sally’s house, who would ultimately adopt her legally.
Not long after, my wife Gloria could not accept that she had given of her only child, and that I was gone yet again. The juggernaut that was depression settled over and coldly embraced her. She parked her car with the engine running in the tiny garage that was associated with our house and locked its door. She sat in her car, hands on the steering wheel as if driving. A thing tapped her on her shoulder. She fired a pistol and was gone. Gloria was not looking for attention or crying for help. She did not leave herself an ‘out.’
I did not hear from my daughter Cindy for 20 years, when at 23, she wrote me a letter declaring that she would like for us two to correspond. We did communicate over the years via FaceBook, emails, and text messaging over the phone.
I was pleased with who she had become and enjoyed corresponding with her. I made a valid attempt to reveal who I was, and endeavored to learn more about her. We never spoke of meeting in person.
Cindy made a leap and tried to call me where I lay in the hospital. I declined to take the call, as I was still separated from the living to a degree. I would not respond to platitudes to the extent that I must “hang on and be tough”. My tenacity was in check. In the hospital, I was just biding my time, waiting to get out so I could just go for it again!
I rented a tiny studio apartment not quite a mile from my house. From the few personal items I was allowed to take from my house, my pistol was removed; riddle me that one Joker. I brought my bicycle with me, and vowed to ride it everyday, supplemented with other exercise. That was a genuine gesture to recover from my plight, or so I read somewhere once.
I rode my bike daily for a time, and then I rode less and less. Something was slowly encroaching on my peripheral vision, and my bed presented itself to me as a red super giant star that had collapsed upon itself, whose gravitational pull was not a possibility to withstand.
I once again began to feel the slow rush of a vortex I was in, a distinct Southerly tug at my spirit. My paltry routine stopped completely. I ventured from bed only to suck water from my hand cupped under the sink. The clattering of the window blinds from the AC put out a detestable thing that I couldn’t quite assemble in my mind. The cycling of the air conditioner was maddening. If it were on, all I could think of is how many more minutes must it be before it turns off. Certainly its been on long enough… it can’t be much more than 30 seconds left before it goes off. I’ll count: one, two, three…
Finally the AC shuts off, and now how many minutes would it be before it comes back on… pretty soon I would think… any second now… one, two, three… it consumed me, and on it went.
There was a knock at the door.
I opened it to find police officers who confessed that there was a request from my daughter Cindy to please check on my well-being, as she had called numerous times with no response. From feeble remnants of my finesse with people conjured up in desperation, I somehow convinced them that I was of course fine, and really appreciated that they came to check on me.
My appearance however urged one of the officers to sheepishly hand me a card with instructions and numbers to contact assistance through the Suicide Hotline. My eyes welled slightly as I accepted it with warm thanks.
As they left I stood in the doorway of my hovel momentarily blinking in the sun. I sensed a presence to my right. I cast my glance and there on the sidewalk sat my daughter Cynthia Gale, who I had not seen for 27 years.
“Hi, Dad!”she said in a tone of forced cheer. I covered my face with my hands and wept bitterly. She brought me back inside and stayed with me for hours. She took care of me for the day and came back again the next day to take care of me yet again, ensuring I got showers, food and company. She sang to me and told me stories, waited hand and foot in my behalf, my best half did.
Ms Cynthia Gale B.
She returned two more times in the same month to care for me. In the absence of her physical presence I continued to sink. I had taken to hallucinations; there in the middle of my room hovered a strongbox, a safe that rotated on and axis fast and faster. The safe was replaced by a cartoon cluster of dynamite sticks wired to and old alarm clock that was ringing loudly. There came an intricate network of colored pipes that snaked its way across the walls; red, blue, green, yellow. There came a large window in the once solid wall to my left. It was open and outside was a vast sea of yellow wheat that behaved like waves on the ocean coaxed by the wind. There stood a solitary woman in traditional dress in field center, just far enough away that I could not recognize.
Here was the dead-end of the decline, the end of the auger, the cease of the sink, the very trough of life. I came to rest. There scratched in the floor in Shawshank tradition were the words: ‘Geo was here’ and there came a tap to my arm.
I rolled over in my sunken bed and reached for my phone from the floor and typed three words to Ms Cynthia, my saving grace: “Come get me.” Cindy dropped everything and drove from Albuquerque, arriving the next day. There was nothing left for me in Las Vegas; we both knew that. For me to stay there alone was to certainly die.
The trip was arduous. Virtually ever 60 miles or so we had to pull the car over so I could exit to purge the devil from my gut. There was nothing in my stomach so I dry heaved painfully for many minutes. There came the hallucinations again, a winged disk icon that entered through the AC vent and flew onto the visor to my front. I pinned it hard to the visor with my finger and screamed: “What is THAT!!” The drive was ten hours in duration, and equally stressful for my poor daughter Cynthia, who stood the while like an Easter Island monolith, despite her anguish, all the way to Albuquerque.