Monday, November 23, 2009

Strong, Beautiful and Tragic

How can something so strong and so beautiful be also so sad and so tragic?

In May of 2009 I went to San Francisco. I stood on the Golden Gate Bridge then it shook and I was terrified. I walked quickly across and back. Later as I looked at it from Crissy Field I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness come over me. Thus started my research into the suicides that surround this amazing place.

In Nov 2009, I started writing a novel about a girl who drives from Los Angeles to San Francisco to jump off. I am almost done with it and it has turned into one of the most precious things I have ever worked on. I have many fictional first person stories from people who jumped, I have fictional stories from people who witnessed others last moments, I have paranormal activity and all in all, it is coming out better than I thought.

Today I was in San Francisco and I looked at the live webcam and saw that the bridge wasn't covered in fog, so I drove up and was enjoying the beautiful weather, view and a happier bridge-so to speak. It was a good day.

Then I saw her. She stood at the rails with her long dark hair blowing gently in the wind and the tears running down her face. She leaned on the railing and I just knew what was in her mind. I waited about 30 minutes before I approached her, hoping, praying, waiting for someone to show up to save her. I had read in my research that if anyone is alone on the bridge for more than 30 minutes, especially in one spot that someone will come and help them, but today no one came. She was looking around and then she would lift her foot up onto the railing and grab the cables, then she would cry some more and step down. It was like she was waiting for an absolution that would never come, no one even noticed her and her fate was already decided.

I walked over to her and asked, "Are you okay?" She said nothing but tears ran down her face. I asked again, "Are you okay? You look so sad." She thanked me for asking and her mouth smiled but her eyes told the truth. I asked if I could do anything and she said nothing, but she grabbed the cables again so I backed off. I watched her for another 20 minutes from a short distance, she kept looking at me and I kept looking at her hoping yet again that someone would come, no one did, so I dialed 911.

I told them everything, they said they would send someone and thanked me, but not before they told me to walk away so I didn't cause her to jump. I did; I stupidly did. I walked away. I turned around and she was gone. There was only the empty spot that she had stood crying left.

15 minutes and my phone rang, and they were asking where she was, and I just started to cry. I walked all the way to Marin and back and in my shock I didn´t want to believe what I knew had happened. They didn't get there in time.

I walked past the spot again and there were some people looking over the edge and rumblings about a girl who jumped. When I got to the bottom of the hill past the gift shop, there were cops everywhere. The coast guard boats were in the Bay, and a helicopter circled under the bridge.

I don't know who she was. I didn't ask her name. I didn't invite her for coffee. I didn't stop her from dying in the worst possible way. I didn't do enough and tonight I sit here writing this blog and she is gone. I was the last person on earth that she spoke to and all I said was "Are you okay?" Three words that will haunt me forever.

1 comment:

  1. I am so disturbed by this, that if I wasn't almost done with my novel, I might stop it. I don't know how to feel today.

    I had nightmares all night. The kind where I was trying to grab her, but couldn't reach, or I was trying to run to her but couldn't move, I was yelling and no one could hear me. I woke up and felt wrecked. I tried all day to not think about it.

    A friend, who I even canceled dinner with tonight, treated me to a spa afternoon and it was amazing, but the girl was playing music that had water sounds. Towards the last 20 minutes of the massage, the music stopped and all I could hear was the ocean waves and as I drifted in and out of sleep, all I could see was this girl's body washing up in the Bay. In fact, the feeling was so strong that I wanted to run away.

    I am going to dedicate, well write a page to the girl who jumped yesterday in my book, but that isn't nearly enough and I am sure I will feel guilty for the rest of my life. I am a different person today than I was a couple days ago.

    I am going to try to help raise awareness about suicide from the bridge. I know that they are trying to get some 50 million dollar net which is about the stupidest fucking thing I have ever heard. They should just extend the railing with a fence, like at the Empire State Building. When you walk onto the bridge on the SF side, Bay side, there is a tall fence that curves in, but then it stops and the four foot railing begins. That is tragic.

    I know that everyone is concerned about this and in my research I learned about all the things they try to do, but it isn't enough. Yes I know that if someone is going to kill themselves they will probably find a way to do it, but what if that isn't true? Most suicides happen in moments of sadness and depression and can be prevented. Jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge is a horrible, painful, tragic way to die.