“My Brush With Morbidity” by Erika
My fiance’ and I, prior to moving back in with my beloved mother, lived in a local apartment complex near wear I work in beautiful Poway, CA; the so called “City in the Country”. We had been living here for quite some time when it came to my attention that our quiet patch of heaven was not so quiet indeed. We lived in an upstairs apartment directly above an elderly woman who was caring for her mentally ill son and allowing her grandson to stay there as well. Occasionally I would run into the grandson in our public laundryroom. He was always very quiet and never said more than a word or so to me. He seemed well and “normal” as some might say, albeit a bit shy.
One evening my fiance and I were enjoying the peace of the night, a very large BANG was heard and a spot above our stone fireplace erupted in shatters of stone flecks and dust. He screamed like a little girl and we both jumped in surprise. I stood to inspect the area and determine exactly what had happened, when the old woman downstairs began screaming in absolute blood curdling terror. I ran out the door onto our balcony to see her fleeing her apartment and yelling. I can hear her words clearly ringing in my mind to this day, “HE’S DEAD! Oh my god he’s dead! He’s DEAD!!”
I watched her over the balcony as she collapsed on the grass and continued her chilling lament. Someone must have called the cops because within a minute (the station is directly behind the complex) the police arrived. Lots of tenants were now outside trying to determine what was going on, and police were telling people to go inside and that there was nothing to see. I hid behind a potted plant and continued to listen (much to my fiance’s dismay). A police man and paramedic entered her home and the police man emerged shaking his head. It took almost an hour to get the woman coherent enough to speak and most of it was continued cries of “he’s dead, and oh my god, I can’t believe it!”. Eventually she began wailing out the ordeal very loudly. “I followed him and said, ‘what are you doing in my sons room?’. He turned around with the gun in his hand and said ‘BYE BYE GRANDMA!’ and then he KILLED HIMSELF!”.
I stumbled back into the house and sat numbly on the couch, pale. I covered my ears as the woman continued to scream and wail on and on and on, and it felt like it would never end the the sound, good god, the sound! A man in plain clothes who identified himself as an officer came to our door and my fiance’ showed the the spot in our fireplace where the large bullet hat ripped through our thin cheap flooring and embedded itself. They ended up removing a large chunk of our fireplace because the bullet fragments had shattered and could not be removed easily. The whole thing lasted the whole evening, and we answered a few questions regarding our neighbors, but nothing helpful or significant. The Grandmother and her son were taken into custody, but it was later cleared as a suicide. I watched the waste disposal team take out chunks of plaster and carry out dried blood and brain splattered bedding several days later.
We stayed there for a year afterward, and we even received new tenants in the downstairs apartment after the old tenants had left. I often wondered if they knew of what had happened…. I’d watch them laughing on the porch drinking and smoking and would get the greatest urge to walk up and spill the whole thing, just to get a reaction. I never did though.
This story powerfully epitomises the unbearable anguish of the suicide survivor. Thank you for sharing it, Erika.
More Brushes with Morbidity are available to peruse at the My Brush With Morbidity room of the Asylum.