Friday, December 14, 2012
After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
The death of 81-year-old Gewynn Taylor and the arrest of her husband, George, 86, which started as a mystery, is now unfolding as a tragically familiar horror show. According to today's Tribune, George and his wife decided to commit suicide because George was feeling depressed.
It gets worse: As the Tribune reports, the park ranger stopped George in Montana de Oro State Park at 11:30 p.m. Gewynn's body was in the back seat, a plastic bag tightly fastened around her head. George told the ranger that she "has been dead since sunset," that they had a suicide pact and that George had tried to cut his wrists and neck and suffocate himself, but it didn't work.
And when the ranger asked if "he or his wife had been ill, Taylor said they were both healthy," but that he had been depressed.
And there it was.
A. Alvarez, who wrote a book about suicide called "The Savage God," noted that "When anyone dies, they leave skeletons in their closets. When a suicide dies, he leaves his skeleton in your closet."
And so it has now unfolded in this case: A deadly folly a deux. Age related physical deterioration. Mental illness in the form of depression. A couple somehow locked into a false paradigm that becomes a fearsome trap. Choices not made. Chances missed. Desperate derangement. No way out. The line between romantic fantasy and reality slipping away down that dark slope of misperception and temporary insanity. A terrible act done "while the balance of the mind is disturbed."
And then, the awful consequences. George's wife died. He didn't. The love of his life is gone because he was depressed and now he remains behind with the self-inflicted consequences. And friends and family are left to ask, "What did we miss? What clues were there that we didn't see? Could we have somehow intervened? How did we miss this? Surely, this didn't have to happen. Surely, surely, this couldn't possibly have been what the Taylor's wanted. Not this horrorshow.
But there it is. And that sound you hear? That is The Savage God, snickering. He knows well, we've been watching too many romantic movies. Romeo and Juliet is fiction. Real suicide is brutal, ugly, desperate, savage, messy. It's full of fury and rage and fear and sadness. It's also very hard to do because it's so unpredictable. Knives hurt. Guns misfire. Pills get vomited up. Cars crash wrong. Wreckage everywhere and still we live. Yet this God's pound of agony will be exacted. His nightmare penalties will be paid. By everyone. There is no good ending when the mind and spirit breaks and clouded brains mistake a fake scenario for reality. No good ending.
In one of his books, satirist Kurt Vonnegut has a character dealing with a disaster beyond comprehension and the only solace to be offered is a pat on the shoulder and a murmured, "There, there."
Two pointless words for a pointless deed that is beyond redemption, beyond explanation, beyond expiation, and the only thing left is a simple human touch, a point of contact, a wordless pat for all our fragile fellow creatures.