I've purchased a token and taken the escalator down into the bright white-tiled underground terminal at the North Station Orange Line stop.
Things couldn't get worse, I think. There's no point. In one hand I hold a bag with two bottles of Coke that I purchased at the 7-Eleven; basically an excuse to get out of the house. I'm thinking of hopping onto the train and stopping off near Laurie's house, so I can just sit there and vent.
I'm thinking about sitting down on one of the well-worn wooden benches and having myself a good cry. There are only a few people milling about, and nobody bothers to pay attention to the odd nutjob crying by himself.
But what I'm thinking about the most is when the train comes, I'll jump in front of it.
Stephanie: hey uncle p
Patrick: Hi Steph. 'Sup?
Stephanie: i think [name of our town] is going to be in the news tomorrow.
Stephanie: when i was driving home, there were helicopters and cop cars everywhere, and the train was stopped.
Patrick: By vet's field?
Patrick: Must have happened recently, 'cause Skottie and I just walked by there less than a half hour ago.
Stephanie: i had to go around. i think there was a big accident. Mom and Chris are asleep, and I needed to tell someone...
Patrick: I'll watch out for the news.
Stephanie: i gotta get to bed. 'night
The Orange Line at this time of night comes infrequently. It's a two-way line; unlike the Green or Red lines, it doesn't branch out in any other direction. There are times I've thought there was only a single car, shuffling from Forest Hills to Oak Grove and back again.
Then again, the train stop is barely populated at this time of night. I wander over to the side of the tracks, where the yellow line and the raised plastic warn that you might be getting too close to the tracks. I look down to see if I can spot a rat; they're as big as cats, but they manage to live under the passing trains.
I wait impatiently. Everything seems calmer; quieter. I don't want to cry anymore. I don't want to run off to Laurie's, or out of town, or to parts unknown. Nothing's going to get better. I've tried getting better, and all it's done is create a list of medications that have done nothing but make me feel worse and a list of doctors and therapists who have gone as far as telling me that electro-shock therapy might be the only way to calm down my brain.
My brain feels perfectly calm now. I'm incredibly sad, but it's a sadness that comes with knowing it has come to this. I'm waiting for the rush of air that announces the arrival of the train into the station. It always arrives impossibly fast; I wonder how the conductor manages to stop it in time to allow all the doors to open.
I hope that the conductor can't stop it in time in case something unexpected happens.
Knocking"Pat, are you up?"
It's Mom. I look at the clock. 8:05am. Well past my alarm. I thought I had just hit "snooze," but I must have shut it off. Shit. I'm going to be late if I don't get out of bed in a hurry.
"Okay." The sound of footsteps going down the stairs. I decide I don't have enough time for a shower. I can go the few hours between now and the gym to shower; it's not like I've worked up a sweat over the past 15 hours or so. I find some clean clothes and hop into the bathroom to brush my teeth and take my Zoloft.
I open the bathroom door and find Mom standing there, that look on her face that means something is terribly, terribly wrong.
"What is it?"
"It's Jayce [name changed so the family won't find this entry on a random google search]. He died last night."
Jayce works in Chris' shop. He plays on Chris and Sean's hockey team. He's a good kid. He's 25.
"He was hit by a train."
I dangle my toes over the edge of the platform, teetering on the brink. I look around, but the few people in the station don't seem to notice me.
I wonder how much it will hurt. I wonder if it will take a long time, or if it will be instantaneous. I worry that it'll simply injure me; render me paralyzed for life; make me more of a burden on my family and friends than I already am. Right now, I'm basically a mute who doesn't like to do anything at all. I try to smile and laugh and have a good time, but at the end of the day, all I'm left with is myself, and that doesn't add up to much.
I've felt this way for over 20 years. For the past three or so, I've started taking stock of medicines in the cabinet, knives in the kitchen, speeds on the highway. I try to think of ways in which I could make sure that everyone knows I'm dead without having to put them through the horror of finding my body.
I feel selfish. I feel like a horrible person. I think of Mom and what this will do to her, but I've been hurting her and Laurie and my brothers and Diego for so long, just by being there. By being a dead weight that they all have to carry around, and I can't do it anymore. I can't do it to them. I can't do it to myself.
I don't want to feel this way anymore. Nothing has helped, and I don't hold out hope that anything is going to help in the future.
Just the train. I look around the corner, hoping to catch a glimpse of its headlights coming around the tunnel corner.
"I called to say I'm sorry."
"Yeah. We don't know what to do here. We're all working, but..."
"We just saw him at Brian's party. He seemed fine."
"Did he ever seem depressed?"
"Not really. He didn't ever seem to like anything, though. He talked about jumping in front of a train every once in awhile, but we thought he was joking."
"I guess he wasn't."
"I don't know. I wish--"
"I just called to say I'm sorry."
"We don't know if we're going to call off hockey. Some of the guys think it's disrespectful to play tonight, but some think that Jayce would have wanted us all to keep playing."
"What do you think?"
"I'm waiting for Chris to decide."
"Chris says it was suicide."
"Their family is going to call it an accident, if they can."
"Chris said something about a note?"
"Three pages. His Mom couldn't read it."
"The police wouldn't let her?"
"No...she just couldn't read it."
I hear the clacking of the metal wheels on metal tracks, signifying the arrival of the subway train. I have to time it just right. If I jump too early, someone's going to cause a fuss and let a guard or someone know, and then I'll just be hauled off to an institution. If I go too slowly, I'll just mess up my face on the side of the car as it speeds past me.
I stand there, my heart pumping fast. I'm ready for this; I know what I'm doing. I don't think I've ever had such a moment of clarity in all my life. This is it. This is the moment when the pain ends, when my story comes to a close. It wasn't a very good one, and it's fitting that on an ordinary weeknight in an ordinary train station, it'll be over.
I wonder if it'll hurt.
I turn. A man stands there, just a little older than me. I'll remember his face for the rest of my life, but at this moment, he's just getting in my way.
The wind pushes down the tunnel. I don't have too much time. I want this man away from me. He could grab my arm, tackle me, stop me from getting it all over with.
"What time is it?"
The train is coming...
I look at my watch. "Seven twenty-five," I say.
He smiles, gives a little nod. "Thanks," he says.
At that moment, the train pulls into the station. If I jumped now, nothing would happen. I'd bounce off the side, probably break my nose. I'd look like a fool and would have to explain just what I thought I was doing.
I look down in my hand. I haven't let go of the two bottles of Coke. One for me, one for Diego.
I look at the train. Tons of steel that barrel down the track at incredible speed. I would have been pushed well into the tunnel on the other side. It would have taken a crew to sort out my body from the machinery.
I realize just what I was about to do. It hits me, probably harder than any train could. I was going to do it. I was going to jump in front of a subway car and kill myself. Without forethought, without so much as a second glance, I was going to take my whole life and give it up to the gods of transportation.
I'm no longer calm. I no longer feel at peace. I start to cry as I walk up the escalator back to street level. Heaving, gut-wrenching sobs come out of me; something I didn't think I had left. For someone who has been nothing but polite conversation and monosyllabic responses for well over two years, I want to scream at the universe; speak volumes about the world and my place in it.
I want to be alive. I just don't know how one goes about doing that.
I calm down enough to walk back to the loft. Diego sees me and thinks that allergies have gotten to me, but I break down again when I tell him what happened. He asks me what the doctor said I should do if I ever get to feeling like this.
"Call her," I say.
"Then do that," he says.
I do. I'm sent to the emergency room, and then to an institution. I'm put on more medications that make me feel even worse until I find the right person who says the right things to send me to the right doctor who puts me on the right medications to get me to a place where I don't hate myself. Where I don't feel that life is a punishment. Where I don't feel that I'm a burden to be carried by those I love.
I made it.
From all accounts I've heard (word spreads like wildfire in our little suburb), Jayce parked his big red truck at the convenience store sometime before 11pm last night (where Skottie and I probably passed it), then hid himself in the bushes behind the electric company's offices.
When the train came, he waited until just the last minute and threw himself in front of it. The engineer, if he saw anything at all, didn't have time to put on the brakes, blow the horn, or do anything at all.
Jayce was flown to Mass General, but there was nothing they could do about it. A three-page suicide note was found in the front seat of his truck.
We, those left behind, don't know what to make of it. Sean says he's torn between being sad and being pissed off. I understand. I understand completely. It feels like the ultimate in selfishness; putting the feelings of those you love behind your own need to relieve whatever transitory pain you might be experiencing.
It's only in your head, right? There are drugs for that.
Depakote, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Lithium, Neurontin...all of those were supposed to help me, and none of them did a damned thing.
Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it takes years.
Sometimes you run out of patience for things to get better. Sometimes the pain is too much to bear for another second.
There isn't always someone on the tracks to ask an innocent question and subvert your plans.
Was Jayce selfish? Yes. No. He didn't think of the pain of others, because (I can only imagine) he was in such pain himself. The only solution to what was bothering him was to end it all.
From my house, we can hear the trains going back and forth. Usually they're a comforting sound, but tonight, they fill me with dread. Jayce was crushed under the weight and speed of one of those. A twenty-five year old with his whole life ahead of him hid alone in the dark, waiting for the moment to throw himself into oblivion, which somehow would be better than what he was living through.
I'm not angry with Jayce. I'm sad for him. I wish I'd seen his truck (if it was there when Skottie and I passed) and saw him scurry down the tracks. Maybe just a call of, "Hey, Jayce!" would have been enough. Maybe not.
Stephanie could have driven by at just the right moment to see Jayce's body being hauled off the tracks, but she didn't have a clue until this morning, when Jayce's mother came to their house to tell Chris in person what had happened.
They're calling it an accident.
Jayce made a choice. It might have been fueled by mental disorder or drugs or a bad situation, but it was his choice. Really, the one choice that we all have in this time we're allotted on this earth. I'm devastated that he made it, but it wasn't an accident. I won't say anything other than what his family wishes to people who knew Jayce and ask me what happened, but I know what happened.
I was there. I didn't have bushes to hide behind; I wasn't hidden by darkness. I don't even know if I would have jumped, had the moment come without the interruption.
I suspect I would have. I had every intention to; I felt it was the only way to relieve the pain.
Later on in June, I'll be taking a train to another part of the country, where I'll meet with friends and celebrate life in some small way. I'm not the same person in many respects as that damaged man standing on the edge of the platform. I've learned that the pain isn't all there is; that there are doorways where you only saw brick walls.
Jayce won't get that chance. I feel terrible for those he left behind. This has hit me harder than I ever thought it would, as much for the manner as for the fact of it. He did what I tried, and I see the devastation that he left behind.
You weren't selfish, Jayce. You did what you thought was the only thing you could. Your family will never be the same, and your friends will mourn your passing for the rest of their lives. I'll look for you whenever I visit Chris' shop, remembering at the last minute that you won't be there.
There were alternatives. There was life waiting for you. You couldn't see it. I understand. I was there. Our trains were on different tracks, at different times, in different cities, but our goals were the same.
I hope that the pain (whatever it was) is over. I hope that you are at peace.
Skottie and I walked our usual route and saw the police tape near the place you were hit. We stopped for a minute while I looked down the tracks. I thought of you, and wished that there was someone walking through the bushes who stumbled upon you. Maybe he'd have asked you the time. Maybe she would have commented on the night sky. Maybe you'd have missed your train.
But you didn't, and now you're gone. We'll all miss you.
I'll try to remember you whenever I hear or see a train pass by. What I almost did, what you did do. Two trains; two outcomes.
Good-bye, Jayce. You'll be missed dearly.