RIP Frank and Jeff

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I was going to write about Frank Spivey again, anyway, and then I saw another news article shared on Facebook. This was from the police report on the events. Apparently after he got back from the 25 Club he put on his Blues before grabbing his rifle and shooting up Eagle Trace (I was right about the apartment complex being where Jody used to live – I just couldn’t remember the name the other night).  He fired a total of 23 shots. When they finally had to take him down it was a shot to the chest. He didn’t die immediately. He crawled back in to his apartment. They sent in a robot to verify, then went in and tried to resuscitate him. Maybe if he hadn’t crawled back inside he would have lived. I just hope he didn’t suffer too much. Hopefully he went in to shock and wasn’t in pain. He was a good man.

It’s nice to see all the comments on the AMMO pages. Lots of positive memories from people who worked for him. I wish he knew what kind of an impact his life had had. Maybe it would have saved him. Maybe if people knew what kind of pain he was going through they could have reached out to him, showed their support. Like I said the other day, we didn’t work together for long, but he was a good man. You heard (then and hear now) nothing but good things about the way he lived his life. Godspeed, Frank!

There was one negative poster the other day. This was somebody who didn’t know him. He shared the story with the interview with Frank’s wife and called him a loser. Lots of people jumped to Frank’s defense. I can imagine a time (in the not so distant past) where I would have felt the same way. But knowing Frank, and knowing that he was a kind, gentle soul, I couldn’t feel that way at all. It’s so easy to judge when we don’t know the circumstances. I think I’ll try to remember that! If this wasn’t somebody I knew I would have forgotten the story within a few hours. As it is I’m having a lot of trouble letting it go. Maybe if Frank had been an asshole it would be easy to reconcile.

He was the second guy I worked with who’s killed himself (yes, technically the cop shot him, but he himself called it suicide by cop). Jeff Culp was my sponsor at my first base. That was Nellis, the same place where Frank died. We used to go to the 25 Club after work even.

Jeff Culp was a big country boy from Oklahoma. When he picked us up from the airport he had on a big belt buckle and a bright red, white, and blue shirt. I don’t know much about the particulars of his suicide. He was a TSgt by then, and I believe he was in Germany. He shot himself at work in the bomb dump. It may have been after hours. I don’t know if he was in a storage structure, an office, or one of the shops. I just don’t know what happened with Jeff. I don’t know if he and his wife were having problems (or even if they were still married) or what. It sucks drawing a blank. He was a good guy, too, and deserves the honor of being remembered.

I’ve never considered suicide to be a coward’s way out like many people do. Aside from the fact that many people who do it are at least temporarily unbalanced; I think it also takes a huge amount of nerve. It’s just so unnatural. But more than anything is the fact that you’re are forcing yourself into the biggest unknown of all. If you’re a person of faith you probably view suicide as one of the ultimate evils you can commit. Do you really want to piss off God right before heading out to meet him? And if you are an atheist, then is nothingness really better than anything you can hope for the rest of your life? And if you are one of the many who are unsure, do you want to take the risk? You can’t come back from it, you know.

I’ve contemplated it myself at various times in my life. But I’ve only come close once. And that was in 4th grade, when my best friend said he was going to kill himself when he got home, so I decided to also. I wrote a note. I ran a belt up through the light fixture in our bathroom. I then realized that I would most likely break the fixture, and how in the heck could I explain THAT? I’m sure if I’d really wanted to I could have found a place to do it. My heart just wasn’t in it. Suicide pacts are pretty stupid. And then he showed up to school the next day like nothing had even happened.

The other times it’s been more of a fleeting thought. “I could just drive my car off this cliff” and that sort of thing. I’ve never tried, and with each passing day I find it much less likely that I ever would. I have a good life now, and a wonderful fiancé, and life is good. I just wish Frank and Jeff had been able to hold out for a better day, too.

RIP, brothers.

Death or hockey

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I had a friend threaten suicide once. We were young, just out of high school, maybe a year into college. A different friend (Goose) and I had a grand plan of just sitting around, drinking beer, and watching a hockey game on TV (the Penguins were playing, our favorite team). Our friend RR was there as well.

Somewhere along the line this other friend (the Wombat) had been out drinking as well. He was feeling depressed and threatened to run his car into a bridge at 90 mph. He had his best friend G with him, who thankfully talked him down.

The Wombat (yes, I gave him that nickname, way back in 10th grade) had a lot of respect for his oldest sister’s father-in-law, a religious man who did local radio. So G suggested we take him to his house in the middle of the night. We did. Though he was an older man, nearing his retirement, he gladly accepted us in to his home. He knew that Wombat was sometimes religious, so he started making calls and got a prayer chain going around the country. He also called the young mans parents, who obviously rushed over. I knew his mother well, for many years. She had been a teachers aide in my classroom way back in 1st grade. She immediately came to me and I gave her a nice long, much needed, hug.

In the kitchen, the in-law kept staring at me. He could tell I was deeply disturbed by the events. He wanted to pray with me, so I did. He tried to convert me. At the time I was still nominally Catholic. I told him that I did accept Christ as my savior (That sentiment no longer holds, I do have to say). It’s hard talking coherently about faith while drunk and disturbed by talks of suicide. I’ll just leave it at that.

Goose wasn’t too happy with the whole evening. He kept reiterating “I just wanted to watch some hockey!”.

The whole evening was a bit surreal for me. But I am happy to say that every one of us is still alive and kicking, though a few years old and a few pounds heavier. And hopefully just a bit wiser…