This morning, I received the dreaded phone call from my mom’s caregiver. This time, instead of the usual, “Just calling to let you know that everything’s fine,” from her chipper voice, I got an upset, “Something’s wrong; I think she’s gone.”
Within minutes, the paramedics who were there came back downstairs and confirmed that yes, Mom was dead. The police arrived. Then the real shocker. They found a note. Wha??? A note? Yes. She left a note. Because the caregiver hadn’t stopped to find it before she flew down the stairs to call 911, she didn’t realize my mother had taken her own life.
After 81 years, my mom decided to end her life. Eight-one years of life: trials and tribulations, marriage, separation and reconnection. She raised 3 children and saw them all through college and on to careers, marriage and families of their own; gracing her with 6 grandchildren. She had a decades long career of playing the violin and gave years of her time to various local charities.
Her toughest challenge was living with mental illness. Bipolar disorder to be specific. She wasn’t even diagnosed and medicated until she was about 50. For a long time, the medications helped to temper the extreme highs and lows. However, the last several years, the meds seemed less and less effective.
After taking a bad fall 16 months ago, she was never quite the same. Since that time, she watched as her husband of 50 years slowly failed, until his body gave out this past February. Since then, she had two hospitalizations for mental instability. And her depression that kept creeping back in, wouldn’t let go. Her doctors tried valiantly to bring her back to level, with no success. I noticed that she was becoming a little bit more confused as the months passed.
There are a handful of reasons I believe that Mom finally took her own life. I won’t go into all of them here. But the realization that there would be no more Christmases with Dad, tainted by a depressed brain must have played heavily in her decision. It could be that she chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But then again, her depression was not temporary, and it was not going away.
Whatever the reason, she will be missed by many people. And the one consolation I know in my heart is that she is finally with Dad, and at peace.