On 15 June 2006, exactly four weeks after Barry died by suicide, Daniel and I were asked to attend the police station and give statements. We were also asked to bring support as the police believed that I would not be able to drive home afterwards. Why? Gary and I asked ourselves. Why wouldn’t I be able to drive home? We couldn’t think of a reason.
The “interview” took three hours. Naturally, we had to give our statements separately, so we were taken to different rooms and asked questions. As I said earlier, it’s been four weeks so I was able to talk about the events leading up to Barry’s death without getting too upset. I knew the details, yet still I found it difficult to remember everything. However, this was mainly because of the grief … and there’s something about being asked question by the police.
Then, out of the blue, the police officer informed us that she had something to show us. She went on to tell us that they had found a letter on the night that Barry had taken his own life, written by Barry, and that they had taken it as evidence. This information left me shocked, scared … and angry. I was shocked because we had torn the house and garage apart looking for a letter, looking for a reason and had finally accepted the fact that we wouldn’t find anything and we would never know. I was scared because I didn’t know what I’d discover in Barry’s words. And I was angry because it took the police four weeks to tell us that a letter existed. This was totally unfair of them. Didn’t they realise that we desperately needed the information contained in such a letter?
The policewoman asked if I would be able to identify Barry’s handwriting, which, of course, was a stupid question. Of course I’d know my own son’s handwriting.
Then she produced the letter. It was five pages long and addressed to his girlfriend. However, I must mention that the letter had been ripped up and thrown away, so Barry never intended for her to see this letter. Barry didn’t mention any family member, except our dog, BJ, who passed away a week before Barry. I felt a little relieved that the family wasn’t mentioned because it meant that Barry didn’t have any issues with any of us. I was upset by the lack of a written “I love you, Mum”. However, I got over that omission quickly because I know that Barry’s thoughts were not turned towards me, they were focused inward on his own problems.
The letter proves that Barry planned his fate and he meant to end his life when he did. There’s no doubt about that. At the end of the letter, he dated it, put the time and then wrote:
26/6/87 – 17/5/06
So, in actual fact, he planned to take his life on the Wednesday, instead of the Thursday. We don’t know what stopped him, but we do believe that he was living out the words to the song “Goodbye, My Lover”. The reason we believe this is because he used certain words in the letter that came straight from the song. He also ended the letter with the song title. We believe that he wanted his “soul out into the night”. Upon hearing this Daniel broke down. He suddenly realised that Barry had tried to get Daniel to go to bed early. Barry asked Daniel several time that night, “Aren’t you tired, why don’t you go to bed?” But Daniel said he was enjoying the time they were sharing together and didn’t want to go to bed, even though he was really tired.
Daniel went to bed at midnight. I believe that Barry’s plan had been spoiled (because it was now the 18th), so he went to bed and we know he took his life during the next day instead.
It was difficult to read Barry’s words. He said that he knew his actions were selfish, but he was doing this thing for himself. He said that he couldn’t bear life without his girlfriend (they were “taking a break”). He wanted the last hug and kiss to be from her. He said he had thought about it for a long while and planned it right down to when, where, how and even the time. He said that by the time his girlfriend read the letter, he would be well and truly gone, but he would be up above watching over her and keeping her safe. He said by doing what he planned to do, he would not feel “a thing” anymore.
Now we have Barry’s reason for doing what he did, but I still firmly believe there’s more to this story than what’s been written here. Only Barry knows the truth and he’s not here to tell us. Yet, our tortured minds will not allow us to push the details into a dark corner and forget them. We continue to hunt for more information, and I think we’ll continue to do that for a while yet.
The pain and suffering has ended for Barry, but for his family it’s only just begun. We still wait for him to come home, and we still listen for his footsteps and favourite greeting. I stare at every 18 year old boy in the street, dressed in clothing similar to what Barry used to wear, hoping by some miracle to see my son’s face. I hear his songs on the radio, I see his favourite movie stars (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johny Depp) on TV and in magazines. And I find that everywhere I look is something to remind me of his hanging (even on The Simpsons). Reminders are everywhere.
Not a day goes by when I haven’t thought about Barry constantly. Even during work hours, his face is foremost in my mind. But at least I can see his face again. That’s a good sign and a huge comfort.
Believe me when I say that the grieving doesn’t end after the funeral. And it doesn’t mean that the loved one has been put to rest, so it’s time for the family to move on. There was, and is, no finality for me. I haven’t said goodbye. I plan on seeing that happy, smiling face of my youngest son, Barry, again. In the meantime, I’m left with a million and one things to do. For example, apply for a copy of the autopsy report, cancel his driving license and Medicare, fix up his superannuation funds, close his bank account, sort through his remaining belongings and the list goes on. For others it might stop after the funeral, but for the family there is always something that needs to be dealt with.
These things only push those family members back into the deepest, darkest pit where the sudden death of a loved one put them. Is it any wonder that we have no energy, no social skills, no will and no tolerance? We are exhausted. We are too busy trying to climb out of the pit and find our way back into the light.
Hopefully, next month will be better for all of us.
Whilst the pain continues for my family, here ends My Story, or should I say Barry’s Story. We require time to heal. We will look for comfort from each other and eventually our lives will begin to move forward. As they say, “life goes on”, and it will because I will not let this wreck what’s left of my family.
Updated 7 September 2006: Read Another Piece of the Puzzle for an update on the letter. This is now a private entry and cannot be viewed by the public.