Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Light

When I moved into my apartment on Exposition Ave, one of the first things I did was install a motion-sensing light bulb in the stairwell to the washer/dryer in the basement. That way I could carry baskets up and down without having to fumble for the light switch. This worked great.

I lived in this apartment for a year and a half before my son killed himself. During that year and a half, the light never came on by itself.

The first time it came on by itself was about a month after he died. The back stairwell is behind the bedroom, and the door to the stairwell had a window. I pulled the curtain aside and looked, wondering if a burglar had entered the back door to the porch. There was nothing to be seen. I looked down for mice, but nothing was there. No moths were flying around.

The next day, I went to Ace Hardware and bought some mouse traps and baited them with peanut-butter. The traps never caught anything, and the bait dried up.

Another month and it came on again.
The light seemed to skip a month. It didn't seem to come on very consistently, certainly not often, randomly.

I was pretty out-of-it, not able to pay close attention to much the first six months after. Unlike some people who get to take a leave of absence, I had to keep going to work. My company gave me a grand-total of 2 days off.
Maybe its a white-guy thing, never complain, man-up, don't show any feelings, nobody wants to hear what ails you. There were some, though, who couldn't believe I was actually getting counseling - because guys NEVER seek counseling! Then they wonder why they can't handle it years later. Maybe I can't handle it, but it won't be because I didn't try everything. I'm a resourceful kind of guy. I tend to be thorough, open-minded, methodical, tenacious.

There were times I thought words to Scott, all in my head. It seemed he was completely unaware of my thoughts or feelings.
Then one time I was on the phone and made a disparaging comment about how he couldn't deal with simple hardships, with a perfect life. My parents beat the ever living crap out of me. I was injured for 10yrs straight, never being without marks on my body, blamed for everything my brothers and sister did, beat for what they did, then beat for lying that it wasn't me. I was hated, in my family, growing up. Scott knew he was loved, and he was never beaten. He was dished out mild punishments - not getting allowed to watch TV, or something like that. As soon as I had said that, it was as if I could feel Scott's rage. It was really weird. It was as if he couldn't read my mind, but I could read his! And the light stopped coming on. I continued to feel anger from him, until I didn't feel him coming around anymore. Months went by.

I wasn't always aware when it was a monthly anniversary - the 4th. Sometimes I noticed that the light came on about that time of the month. I started to pay more attention when it seemed odd that, yeah, it kind of was about the 4th of a month when it came on. Sometimes it was very late on the 3rd, sometimes very early on the 5th, but usually on the 4th. For a light that never malfunctioned before, then was turning on by itself on or next-to the 4th, that was a statistical anomaly.
A few times, I would say out loud, "Hey Scott, I really miss you. Would be great if you'd say 'hi'." And the light would come on - sometimes within the hour, sometimes before morning. Then not again for weeks, or until the next 4th.
I wish I had kept records of the date and time when the light came on, but I didn't.

My brother, who is Catholic, told me that during exorcisms, the priest usually warns people that demons can't read their minds. Demons can hear only what you say out loud.
Hmmm, maybe not just demons? Maybe this is true of any spirit?
So I did some research. Lots of kooks out there on the subject of ghosts, spirits, aliens, supernatural, so I had to sift through. I found some agnostic scientific types who took notes and made lots of observations and posted it online.
Ghosts have been known to figure out how to turn on lights before they've figured out any other type of manipulation in the physical world.
Spirits do hear what you say out loud, if they're around. (Wait - "around" infers both space and time. I thought space and time were only of this physical world, but in the afterlife, we were supposed to rise to a different state?)
They might not hear everything you say, because they aren't listening, but they never hear what you think - unless they've been dead long enough, and a bond between them and you is strong enough and long enough (after death) for them to figure out how to get inside your head. Even then, you would have to whole-heartedly let them into your mind.
So I started talking to Scott out loud.

Then, after three months of not coming on, the light finally came on again. The light woke up my girlfriend and I, and she asked me who it was. I told her it was Scott, which she thought was crazy, but whatever.
The next day, someone came to me desperately seeking help with their suicidal son. This led to a crazy week afterward. It was almost as if my son was trying to warn me what was coming. It was hard for me to deal with my own grief, and also deal with someone who is a heroin addict and about to kill themselves. Not my problem? Yet if I could make a difference, maybe it would be worth it.

After all of that, the light started coming on regularly again, nearly always on the 4th.

I'm extremely agnostic - my religion is doubt. Atheists have faith, that there is no god. Agnostic means you believe in not believing one way or another. To an agnostic, blind-faith is a fool's errand. I worship doubt. To 'believe' is to close your mind to other possibilities. The truth could walk by right in front of your face, and you'd never recognize it.

My last therapy session, I told my therapist about the light. I told him how agnostic I am, that pretty much anyone else would firmly believe it's their son turning on the light, but not me. Still, it seemed statistically impossible for the light to keep lighting up on the 4th, or within hours of the 4th, when the motion sensor was a cheap sensor with no calendar or time feature, and there are 28-31 days in a month.
He suggested I was imagining the light coming on, but I told him, "Then my girlfriend is imagining it, too - along with the day of the month."

Well, the next night, it felt like someone shook me awake from REM sleep. Ever had that happen? Disoriented? You don't just pop out of bed from REM. There was barely any light in the room, but I tried to see if someone was there, because it seemed like someone had grabbed me by both arms and had shouted at me and shook me. No one was there. I sat up. No sirens could be heard, nothing unusual could be heard. So I said, "Scott?" Not even a second later, the light came on.

Wow, if Scott had heard me tell my therapist about me being agnostic and still not being able to believe for certain, and wanted to prove it to me beyond a doubt, this would be about the only way to do it. Yet I'm still very agnostic. I didn't imagine anything, so that's no explanation. Maybe the statistically impossible is possible and this had nothing to do with Scott? Being agnostic, I don't 'believe' it had nothing to do with Scott.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Since this was an open/shut case of suicide, I did most of the work investigating, and sent the report to the JeffCo Sheriffs Office detective assigned the case. I found out far more than a law enforcement entity would care about, since they only care about whether or not a crime is committed, and if so, who is guilty. I wanted to know more for the obvious reason that I was Scott's dad and wanted to know every detail I could get, no matter how hard or graphic.

Scott turned 21 Sept 3, 2015. In the half year that he was able to buy liquor at the liquor store, he threw tons of money into it. He also bought a little THC in the form of pixie stix and maybe some pot, since he had a lighter with him when he died. So he had immediately taken up some very unhealthy habits. He drank so much, his friends said they think he became an alcoholic.
THC has a reputation for chilling people out, but there's a minority of individuals that it causes psychotic responses. Pretty much anyone can consume so much, and get so high, they become paranoid, and the giggling is replaced by anxiety. But there's many who go quickly from giggling and chilled-out to full-blown paranoia. The drift into paranoia also doesn't necessarily happen suddenly, the way a drug "rush" feels like. Even after the "high" wears off, individuals that are negatively impacted will have long-term psychotic affects. We're not sure if Scott was one of these, but he was in a high-risk category, suffering from ADHD.

There weren't many opportunities to see Scott, and I didn't try to inject myself into his life, like an annoying pesky parent. I knew Scott liked camping, and was hoping to take him to Utah with me for a week, if that could be arranged. Problem was, starting a new career, you don't get much time off. The sad thing is, in blue-color work, you're lucky if you get a week off each year, after working an entire year. And Scott hadn't worked anywhere longer than 9 months. It hurt that my son was becoming a stranger to me. I wasn't sure how much to put myself forward. I didn't want to sandbag his social life, didn't want to throw guilt-trips at him the way my mother would do to me (a LOT of mothers do to their kids! It's called "mothering" for a reason.) Scott wanted to become independent, and I wanted to help him become independent, so I struggled to find that line between intrusive and welcome.
Of course, in the aftermath, it seems I wasn't hands-on enough. I should have taken a whole week off to spend with him after he became unemployed.
How could I do that, though? He refused to tell me he was unemployed - not until he had already lined-up another job. A job he didn't actually want, by-the-way.

I nagged him that he needed to be more socially active, meet girls. "Women are AWESOME!" I kept telling him. Whatever fun you're having, it can be tons more fun with the right women. Life can be practically a party, except that we have to work specified hours through nearly every week. But that's why when we're not at work, life needs to be a healthy party. Physically active, socially active, as much fun as you can cram into the time you're not at work. Go, go, go, life in the fast lane.

That wasn't Scott's style, and I didn't force him to do anything. When he got off work, all he wanted to do was sit around, tired. He drank, played online computer games, rarely got together with his friends. I didn't know how rarely he communicated with them, though.

There was so much I didn't know. He was an adult, so I guess this was normal. It's also normal to second-guess and find fault, which feeds guilt. So much I could have done different. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. No end to it. Self-hatred to the point that I felt like a criminal for not being the kind of father that would have kept him alive.

But today is today, and that was then. Some parts of my psyche can easily put it behind me and move on. Other parts hang on and will never let it go.

I haven't been running as much as I used to. Haven't felt the energy or zeal. So much I had to live for is now gone. Words of encouragement from well-meaning friends fall flat and sound like it's coming from naïve and immature people. They don't get it. It's not like I have my whole life ahead of myself.

I have just enough friends to keep me around, and I'll have a pension, if I can keep myself employed for another 2yrs. So the new dream is to retire at my first chance, live out of my car as I trek the empty BLM and National Park lands as I zigzag west and north. Eventually, I want to sell my car and move into a boat. I want a 40' trimaran with folding outriggers. Equip it with a sea kayak, solar power, sat-link, GPS, drinking water generator, mountain bike, etc. sail up the coast to Prince William Sound, then out across the scary open ocean to Hawaii - well over 2,000 miles. Explore Midway to Hawai'i, then south to Kiribati, Tahiti, maybe Easter Island, Nikumaroro Island where Amelia Earhart died, maybe American Samoa, New Zealand, Barrier Reef. Thailand, Vietnam, ...
My friends point out that I'd die. I point out we'll all die. And I'm too old to die young.

Except this plan has one big hitch - I have a girlfriend. I met her immediately after my son died, so the relationship almost never happened. I wasn't "there"; wasn't emotionally available. So I dated a helicopter paramedic with a wild streak in her. Her daughter had died, so we had that in common, but I guess it was too much in common. She'd already gotten past it and I was fresh to it. So it didn't work out. So back to my present girlfriend. Because I quit looking. This is may last girlfriend - I don't care to ever look for another. It either works out, and I stay in this world, or if it ends, I sell everything and hit the road.

Monday, March 14, 2016


March 5th, his mom contacted me. I had just gone running with the Denver Trail Runners and was heading to dinner with them. I txt'd Scott telling him to call his mom. No response, of course.
For 10 months, I had this creepy feeling that Scott might kill himself. A part of me felt helpless - like it was inevitable.
Someone from DTR asked me where I was and I txt'd that my son was missing - maybe suicide. So before we knew, a part of me suspected.
His body was discovered Friday, March 6th. The police couldn't get hold of his mother, so they called me. At the end of my shift. From my brother's place.

I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. The police refused tot ell me over the phone, but I'd been around the block. I've seen people bleed to death, dismembered bodies, injuries, gallons of blood, burns, all sorts of gore, in my years. I knew how cops operated. I knew my son was dead before they told me.
I told the police that I would tell his mom. Since I was a wreck, I asked my brother to drive me. He drove me to her place. Oddly, she didn't act surprised to see me on Friday night - I never contact her on Friday night. But we had talked about tricking or forcing Scott to see a therapist, so she thought I was there to discuss that.
It was every bit as terrifying to tell her as I thought it would be.

Later, I walked from home to go bar-hopping by myself along Broadway. I got incredibly drunk. I remember when I was going up the 3 stairs to my front door, I lost balance and crashed into the evergreen bush.

I had a date setup for the next morning. When I cancelled that morning, she pretended it was okay, but when I told her without additional details that I was on the way to the coroner, she could tell it wasn't a flimsy excuse.

If you can't stand gore, don't look at the car photos.

Brittany was the coroner. She asked my Ex and I if we wanted Scott's clothes. We said, "no". We regretted that. So if you're in this situation, just take it all. You can throw stuff away later, but you can't throw away what you don't have.
Brittany told us where Scott's Honda Fit was, and that we could pick it up next week. Apparently, this was a mistake. We were supposed to wait for JeffCo Sheriffs to officially release it.

March 9th, we setup the cremation at the mortuary.

March 10, we had to pay hundreds of dollars to get his car out of the impound lot.

I drove it to a car wash. There must've been more than a gallon of dried blood. The impression of the muzzle of the gun was still in the seat between where his legs would have been. There was a hole in the ceiling upholstery, but no hole through. The bullet hadn't gone through the hole, and had fallen behind the driver seat where the Sheriff grabbed in for evidence.

It took a whole gallon of hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the blood. Then I unbolted the seat, removed it, and hosed it down at the car wash. I wasn't about to have a stranger clean up my son. This was personal. NOBODY was going to touch this. I'd had the news that he was dead, I had his car, but I hadn't seen him in a week, still hadn't seen the body. The blood was the only real contact I had with him, at this point. He loved his Honda Fit.

A small part of me breathed a sigh of relief, and I felt guilty about it. I was so scared something might happen, and felt so much stress over it.
I didn't feel much guilt for the first many months. How could I? I wasn't in-the-loop! Neither Scott nor his mother told me a damn thing until it was too late! But after about four months, I started to remember all sorts of things I could have/should have done differently. My parents beat me so incessantly as I grew up, from the time I was about 2 until about 12 or 13, my body was never without purple marks from beatings. My brothers and sister blamed me for everything they did, so that they wouldn't receive these overly harsh punishments. So I was beaten five times more than I should. No, more - They would beat me for doing things I didn't do, then beat me extra for lying that I didn't do them. Scott never had to put up with that. He was a good person, and we treated him with respect, without spoiling him.
He never had the reasons to die that I had, so I couldn't understand how and why he would feel so bad. I did a much better job of raising him than my parents, so I figured that was good enough. I guess it wasn't, huh?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Scott's Last Day

Scott had orientation at Target at 9am.

I took a vacation day and was snowshoeing near Silverthorne with a friend.

The dock job was not a job he wanted, but felt he needed, and it was a desperate source of income until he found something more permanent.
The week before, he showed up at orientation with only his Social Security card and drivers license, not realizing he needed a 2nd photo ID to get started. So Target rescheduled him a week later. So he came in with two photo IDs on March 4th. They turned him away again - this time because he wasn't wearing a Target-red shirt.
At this point, he'd had enough. He'd been at the end of his rope when he quit his job. This 2nd reschedule is when he fell off the end of the rope. He wanted to be a mechanic, but decided from one lousy employer that he couldn't be a mechanic, and there's nothing else in life he wanted to do. Except, maybe, it would be okay if he worked in a used record store. He had tried, and he almost got the job he wanted, but as he called in, he overheard someone else there in-person, getting the job. So he didn't even want this crappy dock job, but was desperate. Yet he felt like he couldn't get anything right!
An other part of it, though, is he hated uniforms, codes, rules, etc. I told him he could have long hair, but to find a good job, he needed to cut it off and look clean-cut. To which he responded that if he has to do that, he doesn't want to work for them. So I also wonder if he wanted to die so bad, he tested Target by purposely wearing the wrong shirt?

From this moment on, he was determined. His mind was made up. He was not asking for help, for anyone to help him. He wasn't going to tell anyone.

He used his phone to search "gun store Denver". The results were "denvergunroom" and "The Gun Room", the same business. It's my son's determination to kill himself that killed him. No one at this store killed him, nor are they responsible. This store has turned away suspicious people before, so they are careful not to sell to shady people. My son knew how to get his gun, how to behave. He made it happen.

9:59am - last personal communication with anyone he knew. His friend, Dio, txt'd him about a car problem. He responded by telling his friend to upload a video to Dropbox so he could look at it - yet at that time, he knew damn well he would be dead and would never look at it. It's an example of how he wouldn't let anyone help him or stop him.
The whole year before, both his parents struggled to get him to go see a therapist. He wouldn't. Twice, he agreed, but then each time, he backed-out.
He wasn't thinking about suicide to garner attention, the way some people do. He really wanted to die, period.

He went home after Target and got online. He transferred $1000 from his savings account to his checking account.

He drove to the gun store in Lakewood, picked out a Glock 19 Gen4 and started a background check. Then he drove further west to the bank and withdrew $600 cash. When he got back, he discovered he still didn't have enough cash, so he had to go back to the bank again (I'm sure this helped solidify in his mind what a fuck-up he was and how necessary his death was.) So he went back and finally took possession of his gun.

He went back to his neighborhood and ate at his favorite restaurant, the original Chipotle, the very first one ever built, near the DU campus, at 1644 E. Evans Ave. He got it to-go and went home.
As he ate, he played with his unloaded new gun (he didn't have any ammo, yet.) He also played online video games.

Just after 1pm, he went to the corner gas station and put in a partial tank of gas, $16.15 on pump #2. So at this point, he knew he wasn't going to drive far enough to use-up a full tank of gas.

He drove way out east to Aurora to buy bullets at Gander Mountain. He bought a box of 1000 Remington jacket hollow points.
He drove around, after that. There's actually no sign of life after that. The sales receipts end at Gander Mountain. He barely used any gas, so he didn't drive a whole lot. But he drove aimlessly enough that he ended up way back west in south Lakewood, at an abandoned Hops Brewery, next to (north of) Johnson Reservoir in Clement Park.
It was a peaceful location. In early March, there was still snow piled up at the edges of the parking lot. There was a nice view of the park. Since the restaurant was out-of-business, only a few park-users were parked there.

He listened to his music for a while - who knows how long. No way to tell. But he didn't eat dinner.
It would take at least 30 minutes to drive to that spot from Gander Mountain, if he had predetermined that spot. So he died no sooner than 2:15pm, March 4th. He loaded four bullets into the magazine, accidentally dropping one. He put his hoody over his head (he loved his Honda Fit and probably didn't want it ruined.) He loaded the Glock, stuck it in his mouth, took time to point it the correct direction, and pulled the trigger.
If you don't like graphic details, stop reading here.

The jacketed hollow point mushroomed, some pieces came off and remained in his head. The main part of the bullet barely had enough energy to punch through his skull and the hoody and make a divot in the ceiling material before falling to the floor behind the driver seat.
More than a gallon of blood gushed from his mouth, nose, and out the back of his head. He died instantly, but heart muscles kind of have a mind of their own and will keep beating for a while. That's why there was so much blood. If someone shoots themselves in the heart, it might not be as bloody.

No one noticed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Last Time With Scott

The last time I did anything with my son was a year ago. We went to the park and flew my small drones. I sorely wish I'd had a microSD card in the bigger one. It would have been the last and newest images of him. But the microSD had been removed and placed into a camera for one of my many vacations.

Scott had become an automotive mechanic. He was an artist at heart, but somehow wanted to be a mechanic. He didn't take to the demanding, fast-paced work. The pace took all the fun out of it.
He was hired by a place that knew he was fresh out of school, yet they expected him to become a master mechanic within a year. That's crazy, but that's how they were.
He was ridiculed for his long hair, his green streak through it. It certainly wasn't the customary for mechanics.
One day, he screwed-up a new part, trying to get it onto a Jeep. They were so livid. Scott quit. They would have fired him if he hadn't.

He was devastated.

He told me that last time we were together that he "might never turn a wrench again." Well, I started as a factory worker, became a tool-and-die machinist, but dumped that career and headed into technology. I knew it was hard, but it's not the end of the world. The average person goes through 3-4 career changes in their lifetime.

Scott was quiet. He normally was. I was nervous about him. Things didn't seem right. What could I do? He had everything he needed. His parents were his safety net. We had enough money between us, money wasn't a problem. He had his health.

He lined up a temporary job, just to avoid being unemployed, as a dock worker, part-time, 4 hours each weekday morning. It sucked! He'd have to wake at nearly 3am to be at work at 4am.

He waited over a week before telling me he'd quit. I had been wishing he and I could have spent more time together, but I realized it's not easy starting out, and that he didn't get as much time off. As a machinist, I didn't get a single hour of time off until after completing a year of employment. Then I would be awarded a week of vacation and a week of sick leave. So I figured he might be the same. And even then, he might not want to "waste it" with his dad, when he's got several friends to spend it with.

His dock job was at Target department store. He was supposed to attend orientation first. So he went, but forgot a 2nd form of ID. So they rescheduled him for a week later.
That's when he told me he was unemployed.
Then we spent our last day together.
Then he attended his 2nd orientation. This time he was wearing the wrong shirt. He was supposed to wear a red shirt - Target's signature color. So they rescheduled him again, or so I guess.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Reason for Everything

Scott gave meaning to everything I did. Hard day at work? Didn't matter, because my life had purpose. No matter what happened, my life had meaning, purpose, direction.

Scott was a handful, but it was all worth it.
In his younger years, he was extremely popular, socially. But when he started middle-school, the jungle years began the change to tribal social sorting. He didn't do so well with that, especially with so many kids bussed in from rough backgrounds. He grew socially more cautious. He and a few select friends hung out together and tried to keep their heads down and not draw attention to themselves.

Scott was always easy to buy gifts for. Nearly everything he like had to do with cars, most especially Hot Wheels.

Yet he was a musician at heart. From an early age, Scott always got a professional-grade musical instrument. My thinking was, if it's pro-grade, and he doesn't like it, it has resale value. If it's crap, it gets sent to the Goodwill store without a refund. Scott loved his keyboard. The electric guitar, not so much. The synth pedals, he rocked them! The mixing board, so complicated my brain imploded, he figured it all out with very little reading of the instructions. Either tracks, each with four tracks. Then his Roland Juno-G synthesizer, portable speakers, computer with $300 master mixing software, he was a genius.
Yet cars are what he dreamed of doing for a living.

He was pretty normal going into high school. He didn't seem to mix well with girls, which is odd, since he was quite popular in elementary school, but after puberty, he became quite shy. A rather neurotic girl announced to everyone that Scott was her boyfriend. Scott was confused but thought it was an awesome surprise. The next day, she seemed to forget he existed, and I guess the whole school noticed. Or at least Scott seemed to feel pretty confused and hurt by the whole thing. That seems to have been the full extent of his foray into the whole boy/girl thing.

He was always the music teacher's aid for other students. A real natural.

Scott never needed prodding to do his homework, ever. He always got virtually straight-A's all through school. Except his senior year. The first semester, he actually had to be reminded that his senior year grades counted, for getting into college or vo-tech schools. His 2nd semester, he almost flunked. That was a huge surprise to his parents. He barely managed to pass without needing to go to summer-school.

He took a year off from school, then at 19, he started automotive school. A year later, he graduated.
He worked at Firestone, then at a private auto shop. He loved the work, but he hated the blue-collar culture. Too many red-necks, too many jerks. Mechanics tended to have no style, and if you showed any tendencies towards anything trendy or "out-there", they were unforgiving with their ridicule. And it was group ridicule where you could be chastised by every single co-worker you see each day. Culturally, you'd be a complete outcast. Starting out in automotive mechanics, he needed lots of mentoring and help. No one would help. Yet they kept giving him harder work, without help or supervision. He enjoyed the challenge, but it was a setup for eventual failure, because he wasn't allowed to make mistakes.

And then he screwed-up a job that ruined part ($100??). He quit one day before they would have fired him.
And with that, he decided he wasn't cut out to be a mechanic. One shop full of assholes. While assholes proliferate in blue-collar shops (I was a machinist for 20 years) if you keep looking, you'll find shops where they aren't assholes. Scott gave up, though.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hello Scott

The first time I saw Scott was in the operating room at Porter Hospital in Denver. He decided to flip 180deg without telling his mom or anyone. So he was born emergency c-section. His mom passed a massive blood clot. The epidural left her blissfully unaware and I played poker-face to put her at ease. Our luck, two nurses failed to show for work. Little Scotty drowned in amniotic fluid, so I suctioned his airways out while the doctor hooked up tubes in the tiny infant ICU cart.

That was 9-3-93.

He was a pistol. No wonder, he had ADD. I didn't trust that diagnosis because it seemed to be a fad for every sorry-ass parent to blame their horrible parenting on a fictitious disease. But as we found out, not shit, Scott very much did suffer from ADD.

Growing up, Scott was one of the most sociable and popular kids throughout elementary school. He got so many scholastic achievement awards, we got to know the mayor, John Hickenlooper, because he kept presenting at the ceremonies. Then
by coicidence, Scott's mom taught the mayor's son. Mayor Hickenlooper became governor Hickenlooper.

Scott loved his Hot Wheels cars