Sunday, June 1, 2014

5 Years Ago, I Chose Life

It was five years ago today that I was standing on top of the Golden Gate Bridge looking down the 220 feet to the cold Bay below about to jump. I don't have a mental illness and I wasn't taking drugs of any kind, I was simply in search of a way out-the pain of losing my mother, my brother, my father being in a home not always knowing who I was AND my animation career stalling was too much for me. I couldn't take one more second of that pain. I thought about this for about a year before I decided to do it. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing. That day, I was having was the worst day of my life. Was it selfish? You bet your ass it was, I just said I was having the worst day of my life. I had it all planned out, I had letters to my loved ones in zip lock bags. I had left my dog with my roommate in Los Angeles with instructions on what to do, "just in case something happened to me" and I was set. 
That was it, I was done. I couldn't take one more second of the pain that had consumed me for five years after losing my mother. I think when my brother was killed in Phoenix in a car jacking in 2000 and I was in Australia, that is when the trauma really started, but then mom got cancer in 2001 right after Sept 11th and things kept going from bad to worse. I was out of work for almost two years-and I felt like a loser. Finally in 2003 I started working again and early 2004 I was offered a great job in Denmark, things were looking up. Then mom got worse and fast. She died in March. I had one day to put everything I own into a storage unit when my sister called me and said "we took her off life support, get your ass out here" and I drove to Tucson crying, having no idea what I was going to see. I couldn't believe it was real. Mom, dying? No way, not my mom. 
So she died and one week later I moved across the ocean to Denmark to start a new job. I didn't know anyone, well I knew one other person from a job I had been on in Italy two years earlier, but she was it. I was so depressed that things felt like they were in slow motion all the time. I got through the year, then moved back home for another job, this time in Arizona. This is where mom had lived and it killed me. I hated being in that state. 
Finally in 2006 I moved back to L.A. Animation was up and down, I got work, I didn't have work, I was either broke or close to broke all the time. The stress was terrible and I still had the pain of losing mom just two years earlier fresh in my heart. One day in Sept my father had a massive heart attack and I got a call saying he was brain dead and come pull the plug. For one reason or another my sister, who had power of attorney, decided not to, so he lived in a home. He couldn't talk etc. 
In 2008, he sort of could talk, but sometimes didn't know who I was. So here I was, broke, with no money, nothing was working out, still sad about mom, dad didn't know who I was and was in a home. I couldn't go see him so that was it. I couldn't take it. 
I planned for 5 months on when and how I would do it. I decided the Golden Gate Bridge, because mom and I had planned on walking across it if she lived. She was afraid of heights so that was our plan. So my plan was to walk it, then jump. I stood over that rail for 45 minutes crying and NOT ONE PERSON asked if I was okay. This was May 31, 2009. A tourist asked if I could take her photo. I was crying, on the Golden Gate Bridge, and no one cared. I tried to use one of those blue phones, it was dead. So that was that. But here is what saved me that day. It's scary up there when the wind blows. It's way up there. I looked over and thought. "This is really going to hurt and I'll probably survive the fall, drown or get eaten by a shark, anything is better than this." and I walked off went to the Warming Hut, got a hot chocolate and drove back to Los Angeles. 
No one in my life knew how sad I was because I hid it well and now I can look back and think of May 31st as the day I lived and started my life over. Do I miss my mom? Sure! I miss my brother, my mom, and my dad who passed away in June of 2012. But I don't want to die, I never wanted to die and I knew people would miss me, I just wanted the pain to stop. 
Now I support the Bridge Rail Foundation on getting a barrier up, because most people won't walk away. Most people can't. I was lucky. I am lucky. I am not sure what stopped me really that day. For the first time in my life I was afraid of heights-maybe mom was there, who knows, but I am so grateful that I didn't take that final leap.

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