Een normaal mens schrijft voordat hij of zij zelfmoord pleegt een raadselachtig kort briefje en zet deze rechtopstaand tegen een vaasje op een tafeltje, om vervolgens uit het raam te springen of de stoel onder de voeten vandaan te schoppen. Dat is de normale procedure. Michael Kimball doet het wat anders: voor zover wij weten wil hij niet dood, maar schrijft hij wel graag brieven, heel veel brieven, brieven die er eigenlijk op wijzen dat hij doodgaat. Maar volgens de laatste berichten leeft hij echter nog en heeft hij een boek geschreven over een man die zelfmoordbrieven schrijft_._
Excerpts from the Suicide Letters
of Jonathon Bender (b.1967-d.1999)
Dear Mom and Dad,
I didn't know that I was two weeks late and that you were waiting for me. But it always made me feel special to know that Ingham County had to send a snowplow out to our house. It always made me feel special to think of Dad driving the car so slowly behind the snowplow and Mom with her hands on top of her stomach as if I were an important, but breakable, package. I always thought that there was some important destiny in that for me. I always thought that the path that was cleared through all of that cold and snow was somehow going to determine the rest of my life.
Thank you for taking me to the barbershop to get my hair cut for the first time. I know that it was long and curly and that Mom said that it looked pretty, but I didn't like all of the other moms and dads thinking that I was a girl either.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm sorry that I pulled the stitching out of my feather pillow and then pulled all of the feathers out of it. I thought that I was going to find a bird.
Dear Kathy Granger,
Do you remember when I used to stand on the sidewalk outside your house and yell out your name until you came out to play with me? I didn't know that you were just my babysitter and that my mom and dad paid you to watch me. I thought that you really liked me—and not just because I was a cute little boy. I thought that we were going to get married when I was old enough.
Dear Grandma and Grandpa Winters,
Thank you for giving me the Etch-a-Sketch for my seventh birthday. I liked drawing with it better than drawing on the walls, but I always felt bad when I shook it and everything on its magic screen disappeared. It reminded me of how my dad would grab me by both of my shoulders and shake me until everything went blank inside of me too.
Dear Scott Poor,
I'm not sorry that I hit you over the head with my Scooby-Doo lunch box and cracked your head open with it. You were a lot bigger than I was then and I was afraid of you and I wanted you and your brother to stop picking on me on the way home from school. But here's what I want to know: Did the doctor show you what it looked like inside your head? If he did, I bet it looked mean.
Dear Secret Admirer,
Thank you for giving me the Valentine on Valentine's Day that asked me if I would be your Valentine. I would have been. I wanted to be. But I couldn't ever figure out who you were.
They taught us in our sexual education class that a baby lives in its mother for nine months. So I counted the nine months back from my birthday, added on the two weeks that I was late, and figured out that I must have been conceived around your birthday, which means that one of your birthday presents turned out to be me.
Happy birthday, Dad.
Dear Dr. Fritch,
I cried when you told me that I had a cavity because I didn't want you to drill a hole inside one of my teeth and then fill it back in with some kind of metal. I hated the idea that I was already beginning to rot.
Dear Blue Oldsmobile,
I don't know if you saw me or not. I don't know if you meant to hit me or not. But it really hurt when you hit me. I wish that you could have thrown yourself in reverse and turned time back for a few minutes. Maybe then you would have thought about what you were doing and you never would have hit me. Then I never would have hit the pavement and broken my arm and broken my bike too. Did I at least dent your fender or scratch the paint on you? I hope so.
Dear Dr. Adler:
That test that you asked me to take knew how I felt. I did feel blue. I did feel sad. I did feel bored most of the time. But here is what I need to know: When I feel happy, what color will that be? Because I know that the red pills were supposed to make me feel better. But I stopped taking them because they were red and they made the whole world blurry. Sometimes, I would start to shake even when I wasn't afraid of anything. Other times, I couldn't think or I didn't know where I was. And one time, those red pills gave me red spots on my skin that made me feel prickly and hot. I thought that I had set myself on fire.
Dear Michael J. Fox or Alex P. Keaton,
I didn't like your television show even though everybody at school talked about how funny it was. I didn't think it was funny and I didn't even believe that it was true that anybody's family could get along like that. I know that television is made up, but it should at least be believable. I mean, we were supposed to be about the same age, so how could our lives be so different?
Dear Jessica Cooper,
I'm sorry that I stood you up for the date that we were supposed to have on Valentine's Day in 1985. Do you think that we could have been happy together?
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know that you had to sell the house that we had all lived in for so many years when you got divorced. But I don't think that you should have sold it to that young couple. The same thing was probably going to happen to them.
Dear Man in the White Pants and White Shirt Who Looked at Me Through a Face-Sized Window Every Half Hour,
I know that you were just looking in on me to make sure that I wasn't trying to kill myself. I know that you were just checking off that I was still alive at 1:30, at 2:00, at 2:30, etc., but I liked seeing your face in that little window and I started to wait for you to appear. I found it reassuring.
Dear Ellen Lipsyte,
You probably thought that it was me who kept calling and hanging up after we broke up. It was. I wanted to see whether you were at home at night or whether you were already going out with somebody else. I was glad that you kept answering the telephone. I'm sorry that I kept hanging up.
Dear State of Michigan,
Moving away from you that fall after college was easier than trying to run away when I was little. I had a car by then and could drive.
Dear Weather Satellite,
I didn't know many people when I first moved to Jefferson City. That's why I used to watch you blinking your way across the sky at night and that made me think that you were winking at me and that made me think that we were friends. That's why I climbed up onto the roof of my apartment building every night to look for you—even if it was cold, even if there were clouds. I was comforted to know that you were still traveling in your orbit around me.
You were so beautiful the first time that I saw you that the first thing I thought was that I wasn't good enough for you. I still don't know why you thought I was, but thank you for smiling at me so that I could smile back at you. I didn't think that I was ever going to meet you.
Thank you for moving into my apartment and living there with me. I needed somebody else to sit on the couch and the chairs with me. I needed somebody else to watch the television with me. I needed somebody else to eat at the kitchen table with me. I needed somebody else to put their clothes in the dresser drawers and the closet with my clothes.
Thank you for making me put a sliver of our wedding cake under my pillow on our wedding night. It made quite a mess, but I always had the sweetest dreams of you.
I know how much that you wanted to have children. I did too. That's why I was always disappointed when your menses came every month. I have always thought of all of that blood as one of my failures. I really thought that we were going to have one kid and then another kid. I thought that the kids would get bigger and that we would eventually move into a bigger house. I thought that our kids would have kids and we would become grandparents together. I thought that we would retire and then take care of each other. I never expected so much of that to never happen to us. I can't believe that my forecast for the rest of our lives was so far off.
I smashed the television screen with a hammer because I thought that it was watching us. Even when it was off, I could see this faint reflection of somebody in the screen. Also, I unplugged the radio because I thought that it was listening to me and broadcasting everything that I thought outside my head. But even after I unplugged the radio, I could still hear them talking. That's why I threw the radio outside in the rain where it probably got electrocuted.
What I'm trying to say is thank you for holding onto me so tightly when I couldn't hold onto myself anymore. Sometimes, I can still feel your arms around me trying to hold me still.
Dear Dr. Gregory,
Thank you for writing a new prescription for me. I think that it helped that the pills were red. That seemed to stop some of the voices from talking to me.
I used to walk around the house looking for things that you had left behind—clothes, a blow dryer, the pillow that you liked to sleep on—so that I would have an excuse to call you up and see you. But it wasn't long before I couldn't find anything else in the house that was yours. That's when I started buying things that you used to use so that I could pretend that you had left them behind—your favorite shampoo, that hand lotion you used, blue jeans and shoes that were in your size. I didn't mean to be so desperate.
I didn't sign the divorce papers because I wanted to be married to you for as long as I could. I was even hoping that you wouldn't be able to divorce me at all if I didn't sign them. You didn't have to go to a judge to prove that I was unfit for marriage.
Since we really are divorced now, I think that we should split up our memories too. I want the time when we met and the time when we went to the Grand Canyon. You can have our first date and the day we got married. You can also have the day when you left me, which I have no use for. I want when we moved in together and when we bought our house, though, and I want all of the times that we sat on the couch and watched television together. You can have the times we ate breakfast together, but I want most of the dinners. There are a lot more. Maybe we should talk about all of them.