My mother died 16 years ago today. Such a long time ago. She was 45, only 2 years older than I am now.
She was also my Best Friend. She really was. I miss her more than I could ever bear to tell you. Every day. It never ends.
Make no mistake. Suicide is a terrible thing. But the sad truth is that sometimes people want to die more than they want to live. And there's just no convincing them otherwise.
Mum's suicide blew our family to smithereens. It rocked the small community we came from to the core. It led to other suicides. People ran away. Marriages broke up. Good friends blamed one another for what had happened. Others blamed themselves. It just made the most Astonishing Mess I Have Ever Seen. To this day, I am picking up the pieces. (that's me on the left, in case you're wondering, in the days when I had eyes like a normal person).
I have always wanted to talk publicly about this. But it's so hard, especially to decide where to start or what might be of value to others. And I don't want to freak people out. Then you hear of 15-year old girls in Melbourne who've carried out suicide pacts in a fit of teen angst, and you KNOW that somehow, if the community was more open about suicide, more ready to confront its ugly realities, that if only we didn't sweep the blood and guts under the carpet, just maybe, these girls might have had some rudimentary grasp of what they were playing at. My guess is, they believed it would be tragic, but beautiful. A poetic, romantic way to go.
Like my mum did.
Which is more wrong than the wrongest thing I can think of.
Anyway, I've had a thought.
If there is anything, anything at all that people would like to know about my experience of suicide, a question that they would not normally feel comfortable asking, (you can ask me, right?), but that they've always wondered about, or any other kind, for that matter,
This is your chance.
I'll give you one or two pearls of wisdom, for those of you considering suicide, to get you in the mood.
Helpful tips for those planning a suicide
If you want your children to not sell your house after you die, and you really want this to actually happen, don't airily claim in your will that you leave the house to all three of them equally. They will tear one another to shreds. The damage done will be irreversible, particularly if the house in question was Robin Boyd-designed, with a river frontage, nestled on the edge of hundreds of acres of virgin state forest. Leave it, instead, to the most sensible, down-to-earth child you have, who will make sure everyone is taken care of fairly, and that nobody sells the house.
When your well-meaning but naive eldest daughter comforts you with assurances you that you will look like a 1940s movie starlet when they lay you out in your (open) coffin, don't believe her. Autopsies are exhaustive procedures, after which you will be stuffed with stuffing stuff, and left looking like Mr Potato Head.
Tortoiseshell Rayban sunglasses, on a dead person, just look plain, fucken terrifying. Don't even think about it. There is no looking cool when you're dead. Trust me on this.
If you plan to meet your Maker swathed in a cloud of Diorissimo, make it very, very clear, in writing, to the morticians, that you want to wear the perfume, not hold it. In combination with the sunglasses, the visual effect of one's cold, dead hands lovingly cradling a box of scent from Myer will be not only frightening, but also surprisingly funny, and as such, deeply confusing for anyone who sees it.
In fact, to be safe, just skip the open coffin altogether. You may well have had your face removed and then put back on again by the Coroner, as part of the post-mortem procedure, (or completely rebuilt by morticians, depending on your weapon of choice), and there's an excellent chance that it's going to look pretty damn wonky. And given that, by this point, you're comprised of about 85% stuffing anyway, you might want to be giving the big warts-and-all, Irish send-off a miss.
Still reading? Excellent.
And you guys wonder why I have such a black sense of humour.
So. Ask me. I'll post the answers.
Go on. We need to talk about this stuff.
Or your 15 year old, or mother, could be next.
And I promise to answer as truthfully as I can. No question will be treated as too bizarre or personal. Believe me when I tell you that I'm very hard to shock.
My poor, lovely mum. Funny, smart, and very, very brave. I hope you're dancing, wherever you are.