It’s with almost unbearable sadness and a heavy heart that I am writing to let you know that my husband, Metafilter member
took his own life on the May 12th.
(I sat down earlier today to write this post and now, some 7 or 8 hours later, I think I have to stop wrestling with it and just post it. After rereading I realize this post has grown much longer and detailed than I originally intended. I have not been, until now, a Metafilter user and didn’t really know the protocol for doing a post like this and I want to thank Jessamyn for helping me get to this point and for waving the one week waiting period. What I do know is that Marc loved Metafilter).
Many late nights or early mornings I would wake up and walk back to the office and find Marc staring at the “blue” or the “green” as he assured me they were called. To be honest, there were times when I was a little jealous, in a loving way. I often teasingly referred to it as MistressFilter. What I always found strange about him participating in discussions or answering (and asking) questions is that he really distrusted most social media, well not distrusted, he just didn’t see the point of it all. But, he told me y’all were different. That the people participated in the discussions were smart and empathetic and that he learned a lot about things he never knew he could be interested in and that y’all gave good advice when he asked questions.
Because we both worked for ourselves, he as a bookseller and me working as an independent spice saleswoman we were able to set our work schedules, for the most part, so that we had a couple of hours every morning to do our favorite thing in the world: sit together and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and just talk about…well, everything. Invariably four or five days a week he would tell me something that really had struck his interest and every time it was something from Metafilter. Every time
. He would always try to encourage me to try to get into the site. But I just never did. It was his thing and I liked listening to him talk about it. He had his favorite users that he brought up a few times over the last couple of years, and I am sorry if I get the names wrong: gregnog, darlingbri, whelk (he was envious of whelk actually, he told me whelk new something about almost any post that came up) and some others, but his favorite was scody. He always said scody gave the best advice in the AskMe’s. It even became kind of a little joke between us “What Would Scody Say.” Anytime we were talking about some problem we were having with our family or friends or we were making some important decision about almost anything really, one of us would always ask “What would scody say?” He liked posting questions and liked to use some song lyric as his post title. That kind of became a game too. He would tell me the question he posted and I would try to guess the song lyric he used, but I was never right.
He always told me I should go on the site and read what he said in different posts or all the answers to a question he asked, but I always said “just give me the highlights” or something like that and never delved into all of his activity, really until today as I was trying to piece together his last couple of days. I read through his comments and questions and looked at the stuff he had marked as favorites (I never knew that "Robots ain't shit" was from metafilter, he said that all the time). What struck me first was how intertwined his metafilter life was with our life together. He joined about 6 months before we met and almost his entire life, things that I am stunned he ever talked (or wrote) about in such a public forum because he was such a private person, pop up at one point or another in his comments. Marc struggled for years with meth addiction, well we both did. We met in Rehab actually, 13th Stepping. One of the first questions he asked was seeking help somewhere in Dallas for meth addiction
and he made a few comments over the years, both during and after we finally kicked two years ago about his addiction. He was never ashamed of his addiction, never hid from it or tried to downplay just how much of a grip meth had on him. Even though we have been clean more than two years, he still had his bad days, like any addict, where he had bad cravings, but we were always able to support each other and work through it.
Marc and one of his four sisters were abused, sexually by his uncle directly and by his “real mom,” as he always called her in different ways. She was a life long addict herself who was in and out of prison for most of his life, beginning when he was 4 or 5 when she was arrested for child endangerment for trying to “sell” is the word he always used, him and his older sister for $50. I don’t know the details really and he doesn’t remember it, he has just been told about it by family. I know that just the knowledge of it affected him deeply throughout his life. He would mask his pain by making jokes. Whenever something we were looking to buy cost around $50 he would always say something like “well we can get this blender or we can get two kids” and he would laugh but I know it hurt him. He would never, ever have a fifty dollar bill and would always tell the teller at the bank if she was cashing a check that he didn’t care about the denomination, but “no fifties please.” Still despite all of the hurt she caused him, he was always trying to contact her through his teens and 20’s before I met him, because he wanted to know her or he wanted some closure or he wanted to cuss her out or something. I think he wanted her to love him, like any kid, but he would never say it. She died shortly after we met of complications due to AIDS. She had been homeless for a few years, or in and out of shelters and jails. When she died she had a backpack with her as her only possessions. The backpack was full of baby pictures of him and his sister, a mothers day card that he had made her when he 3 or 4, his socks he came home from the hospital in and a bunch of different letters she had written him over the years but that she never sent. He looked through it all one time. He didn’t cry or show any emotion really, he was very stoic about it all. All he ever said was “all these years, in and out of prison and god knows what else, she held onto this stuff.” He went into a terrible depression that lasted weeks. Eventually he went to WalMart and bought a little portable safe and put it all in it and, as far as I know, never looked at any of it again the last 5 years of his life. The safe is in our closet, but I don’t know what he did with the key and I don’t know what I would do with it if I had the key or what I am going to do with now. Besides one passing comment he never mentioned her on MetaFilter. I wish he had, no doubt y'all could have helped him with it.
Besides that one incident, and granted it was a big one, he was not really prone to depression except for the three years we were using together and he felt the guilt and shame about neglecting his son, who is 13 now. Over the last two years he has really rebuilt his relationship with his son. I have never seen him happier than when it’s his weekend to have him. He also within the past couple of years found out that he had a 14 year old daughter, and though it was going slow, he had been building a relationship with her as well.
He had a very strained, to say the least, relationship with his dad and step-mom. He told the story in a Green Bay Packer thread
about his dad. He was close with his dad but his step-mom is one of these people that just could not get along with anyone, would constantly try to start fights with him, belittle him about his drug use well after he got clean and tried to sabotage our wedding. The day he went to buy the Packer share with his Dad and our wedding is the only times he has seen them in almost two years. We went to see them after we got clean and he got out of jail but she was so dismissive of him and his recovery and showed nothing but distaste for me and he finally decided he was through with them. He has four sisters. Three of them live either next door or across the street from his parents and are solidly under his mom’s influence. They told him repeatedly that they didn’t want a drug addict around their kids (his nieces and nephews) which I understand when someone is using you don’t want them around kids, but even after he had been clean for over a year they would still constantly call or text him and just be extremely mean and degrading, usually parroting things his step mom said. He never stole from them during his addiction, never asked to borrow money, never called them to bail him out of jail, never made excuses or laid blame on them for his addiction, he always blamed himself. Its hard for me to understand them treating him they way they did, but only because my family were the exact opposite with me. His sister recently came out and the entire family but Marc just completely disowned her. She was his “baby sister.” She is the only person from his family that will talk to me. My god I’m rambling. I am so sorry.
I didn’t want to do this post just to tell you about his suicide, but also to thank you for helping us. You helped plan our wedding playlist, , our honeymoon to Chicago, helped us figure out how to deal with his step mom at the wedding
, gave us the words plonks and foonsockled
, helped him give his son the opportunity to say goodbye to his dying grandmother
, helped him decide what to read or what to listen to, helped us plan a get together with friends and helped him cope with his rightful actions that he (incorrectly) believed led to a young womans murder
. That had been weighing on him significantly these past few months.
Marc was a good person with a big heart. He was extremely introverted and suffered from near debilitating social anxiety. Once we sent into a sandwich shop called Which Wich where instead of telling the person your order you have to feel out this slip of paper. We got in line and the place was busy and we didn’t know we were supposed to have filled out these order forms and when we got to the front of the line and he started giving his order and the guy said “just fill out the slip” and pointed to this row of checklists that you are supposed to choose from and he just lost it. He started having a severe panic attack, couldn’t breathe, started crying, just lost it. And I laughed at him. It’s the biggest regret of my life. It was early in our relationship and I didn’t really understand anything about how bad his anxiety was. God how I regret that.
He didn’t have (or want) many friends. We have four good friends. They all loved him like an older brother. He was 10 years older than me. In a lot of ways I loved him like an older brother too. He always looked out for me and I felt safe with him. He protected me. When things were going bad for one reason or another he would always hold me and tell me everything would be ok and then he would find a way to make it true. When I would tell our friends that they always told me that that’s old fashioned and that “this is the 21st century dammit, you are a strong woman you can protect yourself!” Maybe so, but I also know that he made them feel that way too. One of them told me today that what they will miss the most about him are his hugs, that whenever he would hug them and kiss them on the top of the head, which was kind of his little thing that he would do because he was so tall, that they would always feel better afterwards.
Marc was extremely smart. He had a BA and an MA in American History. He was also really quick witted and the funniest person I have ever known. But he grew up in a very unstable environment with his step-mom always ridiculing him and putting him down so his wit could cut both ways. He could be brutally honest. I have seen him cut right to the core of someone with just a sentence or two. He could be an asshole I guess. He never was to me, but he had that built in defense mechanism that could make him just vicious.
Marc loved music. Going to concerts was our thing. We went all over the country to different concerts, once rode a grayhound from Dallas to Delaware to see Wilco and rode one to see Bright Eyes at the Hollywood bowl. We probably went to a hundred concerts in our five years together. He agreed with the John Cusack character in High Fidelty that its what you like that matters, not what you are like. He liked Wilco and Spoon and he loved the Beatles and Elliott Smith and the Beastie Boys
. He loved The Office and The Wire (especially Bubbles and DuQuan) and The Sopranos. He loved David Foster Wallace and Don Delillo. His Favorite movies were You Can Count On Me, LA Confidential and Kes. God we must have watched those movies a dozen times in the last 5 years. I know, I know. He liked things that everyone agrees are great. Nothing groundbreaking in his taste in Pop Culture stuff. But he would be embarrassed for me to tell you that he also loved Kelly Clarkson and true crime books and American Idol and that he saw Love Actually more times than Star Wars. I don’t know where I am going here. Trying to avoid the painful stuff about his last days but I am getting there. I am so sorry this is so long.
His great grandmother, who is 97 going on 70, always says that life is what you leave. This is what he left: his pile of books to read next that he kept by the toilet, which was his favorite place to read, (he would go into the bathroom and emerge two hours later unable to walk because his legs had fallen asleep from sitting on the toilet reading), this comic strip series he drew for me in jail called If We Were Boxes (he said he tried to draw people at first but couldn’t so he just made us into boxes), a cache of letters and cards he wrote and handmade books and journals made for me over the years, his baby sister who idolized him and looked to him for protection from the rest of his family, two beautiful teenagers and me.
On May 11th I left for the weekend to go visit our friends and my mom for mothers day. Even though they only live about 40 miles away, I decided to stay the entire weekend at my parents to spend time with my mom. Marc and my dad were like best friends. They were always debating politics and religion. A few months ago my dads faith was shaken after a series of conversations with Marc about god and science and religion. Things have been on shaky ground with Marc and my mom since then so he decided to stay home for the weekend. He went to the store and bought a bunch of stuff to grill while I was gone and everything seemed fine. He had accidentally? Or purposefully? Left his cell phone in my car so he didn’t have his phone and we don’t have a home phone so I had to email him Friday night to check in on him. He emailed back and said he was little upset that he had overcooked his steak, which looking back seems weird because he was a perfectionist at the grill. I’ve been told that’s normal to be looking back and thinking I should have caught this or that or applying meaning to things where there probably is none. We always had a little game where I would ask him what he was listening to because I could usually tell his mood by what he was playing. If it was Automatic for the People
or post-Revolver Beatles or Elliott Smith I would have known he was feeling down. If it was Titus Andronicus or Fucked Up I would know that he was angry or agitated. I emailed him back to say that I was going out with my friends and asked him what he was listening to. But he said he was listening to Husker Du, which he hasn’t really listened too much in the past couple of years, so I didn’t really think anything was amiss, had no reason to really. His last email to me said “Have fun myKim, tell everyone I said hi, see you Sunday. Leprechaun, Leprechaun.” (That’s how we said I Love You. From those viral videos where people thought they saw a Leprechaun in a tree. At our wedding we wrote our own vows and besides pulling out a picture of Ron Swanson and showing it to me and giving a room commanding comedic performance that no one could believe he did because of his shyness and social phobia, he also said a line from that video in sign language “I’m gonna get me a backhoe and uproot that tree, I want to know where the gold at.”) As far as I know our emails that night was the last communication he had with anyone. It was at about 10:30pm Friday night. He had plans for a buddy to meet him at the house Saturday morning to go play disc golf. Our friend got there at about 10am and when he pulled up he didn’t see Marcs car so he got out to wait on him to come back, thinking he had ran to the store or something. But as he got out of the car he heard a car running inside the garage. He said he didn’t put two and two together and he just opened the garage because he knew the four digit code to our garage door key pad. As the door was raising he smelled the fumes and he knew. He had the CD player on loud with this Wilco song
on repeat. That’s where I got the title for this post, in honor of Marc and his song lyric post titles. He called 911 and got him out of the car but it was too late, the coroner said he had been dead for a few hours when he found him.
As I started piecing everything together I didn’t think he intended to kill himself when I left that Friday morning. After all, he told me he had posted a grilling question the day before on AskMe and specifically said my wife will be gone for the weekend and I want something complicated to grill, but he also said that he found the prep and cooking to be cathartic, so maybe something was already bothering him? But he also ordered two books from Amazon Friday afternoon. He emailed my dad early Friday evening to schedule a round of golf with him the next week. He didn’t call his son and say anything, didn’t call anyone or email anyone else outside of a few customers who had questions about books. We looked frantically though the house and did not find a note. In my mind I was thinking someone must have done this to make it look like a suicide. I had convinced myself of that, until the mail came yesterday. As soon as I saw the envelope I knew what it was. He used to always get me these cards that have a spiritual or motivational saying in them and mail them to me. They are immediately recognizable because they are square instead of rectangular. He bought a ton of them a few years ago and had been mailing them to me just out of the blue every two or three months or so since then. I always loved getting them. This one had a Walt Whitman quote: You are so much sunshine to the square inch!
It said, in part: I always said I would kill myself before I ever call Bruce again. It was just a matter of time before I did. I could feel it everyday getting closer and closer and I know if I did it would kill me eventually. “All my lies are always wishes, I know I would die if I could come back new.” Leprechaun, Leprechaun.
Calling Bruce was our code for getting some meth and the quote is from one of his favorite wilco songs. That was all the note said. As I went back through all of his stuff and searched his internet history and stuff I noticed that he had been on Metafilter some on his last day. One of his last comments was in a post about Husker Du
. It said “Well, my wife, whom I love dearly, told me not too long ago that Bob Mould was hot. Does that count?” But, I didn’t know who Bob Mould was (I do now) and I never said he was hot. I like to think he was just leaving a little not to me there, saying that he loved me. I know that’s what he was doing.
But the last thing he did online in his life was make a post on Metafilter of Willie Nelson covering one of our favorite songs
, Just Breathe by pearl jam. He titled the post with lyrics from the song “Under everything, just another human being, I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world to make me bleed” (Ironically, I guess, he apparently worded the post in a way that made people think he was doing a Willie Nelson Obit post and that Willie Nelson had died. He emailed Metafilter asking for the wording to be changed and got an email from Matt at 9:56 confirming that he would change the wording) and his last comment told a story about our wedding that I did not know, but that he wanted me to know. To me this is his suicide note
, not the card he sent me:
Well I guess its good that I didn't lead with the last line of the song "Hold me til I die Meet you on the other side..." Sorry about that symbiod. We played this song (the original) at our wedding a few months ago, just in the background in a mix of other songs, but when it came on I just watched my wife as she moved around the room oblivious to my stares. And man it was the only time that I got real emotional at the wedding. She kind of razzed me a little because I never "teared-up" despite it being a pretty emotional ceremony for a lot of reasons. But I did tear up some with the song on as she moved so gracefully through the room. Luckily this Willie version wasn't out at the time or I may have completely lost it and my cover would be blown. Anyway, I will get out of my thread now.
Oh that haunts me. Because I did “razz” him as he says because he stayed so even keel during the ceremony after the drama with his mom and everything. I think it was just him protecting me again, staying calm so that I could freak out. But, that story he told in that comment, that is him to a tee. He was always so sweet and loving to me. I can imagine him sitting there watching me and getting some tears in his eyes. That’s him.
Marc didn’t believe in god or any kind of afterlife and I don’t either. When he would talk to people about god or heaven or the after life he would always quote Roger Ebert who said something like “I didn’t have any problems before I was born, I don’t think I will have any problems after I die.”
God I hope he’s right.