Cafe Hitch-hike


The one way out

I got caught up with Cousin Gabe on the phone this afternoon. He mentioned that his cousin Rob died.

"Rob, a cousin of yours in Colorado, California, or Arizona?" I asked. Gabe's mother had family out west.

"No, our cousin Rob here in town."

I then realized my initial reaction was denial. It was our cousin who was only 3 years younger than me.
I subconsciously thought it was, but I didn't want to believe it was true.

I hadn't seen Rob since our aunt's sister's funeral last summer. I actually thought of him over the weekend; his dad Ralphie once told me Rob was his hero because he worked so hard, never gave up, and had a good attitude. When I stayed with them for a month one summer, Rob always woke up with a cheerful expression and it usually perked me up as well.

However, he was only 41. As far as I knew, he was healthy. Something didn't sit right within me.

"How did he die?" I asked. My cousin told me that our cousin Roberto-Bautista took his own life.

I can't claim to know what was going on with Rob or that I knew him really well. I knew he had some developmental issues when he was younger that were a strain on his parents. I don't really know about their current relationship because we didn't talk. When we were in contact, I got the impression they didn't feel he could take care of himself, sometimes treated him like a kid, and resented it. My aunt Mirabella told me Rob's father often belittled him. My uncle Jumpranger's wife didn't like Rob and was creeped out by him. I definitely sensed some strain.

One thing I've noticed from having friends who lost others to suicide is the loved ones live with an aftermath. It is hard for me to imagine what Rob's immediate family is going through, and I wonder about its ripple effect among my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I then thought of something I hadn't thought of much. The men of my father's family often had contentious relationships. They were competitive with each other and often carried on hostile silences for years. They turned their drive toward the outside world, since they were all successful entrepreneurs, and then toward each other. They also had high standards. I suppose they were just trying to toughen me up or get me on what they thought was the right path, but they criticized my aspirations, appearance, weight, and spiritual beliefs, something my mother's family never did. The men's high standards also turned toward some of us. I wonder if Rob, who had some developmentally stunted growth, went through all of that a lot more. I don't know for sure, but it just makes me wonder.

The other part... I knew for quite some time that mental illness occurred on that side of the family. It had hit 2 of my aunts pretty hard, not to mention my paternal half-sisters and even myself. However, my cousin's death pushes all of this much further if he suffered from one. I don't know anything about his health but I also can't help but wonder. Did he have a diagnosis, and did he get treatment? If he did, were Rob's parents supportive in that regard or was this 'out of the blue'? These are questions I won't ask, but I'll quietly see if any answers come my way.

It makes also feel pretty scared for one sister who I know suffers but refuses help, and then the other who gets minimal help because of her health insurance limitations. I've just about fallen short of begging one to get help, and what happened to Rob just flusters me. I wish my sister could see that her stubbornness isn't going to help; her condition has nothing to do with her will power, faith in God, or morality! I wish she could see that depression and anxiety are not punishments or signs that she's not good enough. We were susceptible to those conditions from our upbringings and genetics! If Rob had those similar experiences and if they were even a part of what led him to take his own life, hello, these are very serious matters!

So yes, I'm writing about this because 2 people stopped me shortly after I tried to talk to them about this. Cousin Gabe said he knew nothing about the conditions surrounding Rob's death, and I don't know if that was true. Whatever the case may be, no one wanted to talk about this, so I am here writing about this, in my little virtual patch calling out:
May my cousin's family feel comfort and support in the days to come.

May my cousin Roberto-Bautista truly be free from whatever pain or torment he experienced for him to see only one way out.

Why did it have to turn out this way?

I pray that no one in my family will ever have a reason to feel that their problem is so dire that they only have one way out.

downwind | upstream