April 14th, 2015 began like any other day. It was a school day. I was up at 5 am, had my coffee, started all my routines to get ready for work. Went in to Luke’s room at 6:30 and gently shook his leg and told him it was time to rise and shine. There was no rumble of thunder or a voice from above saying – “Remember this…. this is the last time you are ever going to touch your son.” Sigh. If only….
Leaving the house that day is not in my memory. The first days of grief will do that. Luke and I probably go out the door at the same time because we usually did. You will have to forgive me when I say I don’t know how Logan got to school that day. Did I drop him off? Bus? Luke? Probably Luke. No, probably me. John was still fast asleep upstairs in bed. Turns out he will have seen our son for the last time the night before. He hates that his final words to him were nagging him to move his car, but hey, it was a normal father/son kind of interaction. As I said, there are no indicators that this would be it. #WeHaveRegrets
We know Luke had a flurry of activity on his cell phone that morning. We could see from the records who he was texting and what time, but not the actual text content. The kids all say it was the usual kind of stuff. Sometime midmorning, Luke was sitting in class when he was pulled out by an administrator and read the riot act about something. Maybe he was tardy that morning? Wait, maybe he had a run in with the teacher first? I don’t remember anymore and honestly, it really doesn’t matter at this point, does it? But there are witnesses to this exchange and that is how we know it transpired. Luke returns to class pissed off and I am surmising here that the black tunnel that is suicide has started to swirl like dark clouds before the tornado. He asks to use the bathroom and actually heads there because one of the kids we know has a conversation with him. And then he walks himself right out of the high school. The King has left the building.
I think this is when Luke decided he was literally and figuratively done with life. To the best of our knowledge, he drove home and wrote a note. His penmanship was shakey and it’s usual level of difficult to decipher. There were three lines. He said he was sorry to us, his family, but that he was tired of being a burden. He mentioned three of his friends by name – a lasting tribute to his boys. He mentioned how he had hated himself for a long time. That was it. No long, drawn out final essay on the meaning of life. No rage about his perceived injustices. No ” I love you”. He left the note and the pen he used to write it on the island. He carefully tucked his wallet and his favorite red ear buds on my side counter. We are guessing he went downstairs, probably to the garage, and smoked. The autopsy report said there was marijuana in his system so we assume it was from that day, but maybe it was the night before. Again, it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that he climbed into his Altima, sent another text or two, and if I was a betting person, put on a song. Not just any song, but something that was going to get him through this next step. Probably Kid Cudi. Whatever it was, he turned it up loud and took himself down Glenwood, up Main Street, and turned left onto Millbrook. This stretch of road was a favorite of his, Logan told us, because it was windy and he liked to drive it fast. I often wonder if he had planned out this spot in his mind before hand. I often wonder if he drove that first quarter mile, stopped at the top of the hill, and looked out over Rutland one last time. I often wonder if he cried.
It is another quarter mile down the hill, and at the bottom where it curves, just before the stream, there is a grove of trees. The first one is formidable and probably a few hundred years old. Luke accelerated that car as fast as it would go and hit it at top speed. The impact wrapped the Altima around the tree, where it then flipped over and landed between two other trees. Luke was ejected and died instantly. Whether it was the impact of the crash, or hitting a tree himself we will never know. The first witness on the scene said he looked like an angel asleep with his arms over his head. He was gone.
So here’s what I need you to know: Everything one might read about the hereafter tells us that God, the Universe, Source, whatever you believe, pulls your soul out of your body just before the end so you don’t feel any pain. John and I take comfort in knowing that Luke didn’t suffer in the accident. The harsh reality, however, is that he did suffer when he was alive. That is what death by suicide is all about – it’s not someone being selfish; it’s not someone trying to give a big *screw you* to their family. It is an individual suffering SO much emotional pain every single day that the idea of ending their lives looks like a relief. John and I take comfort in that, too. That our sweet boy has finally found some peace. We love you, Lukester. From this world to the next. Xxx
Need help? – Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8355