- 8 years ago
- Wedding: May 2014
Hi girls. I will apologize up front for spelling and grammar errors in this novel I’m about to write.
I posted last week about my missing uncle and how worried we all were. I think I updated about how the police found his truck abandoned in a park that backs onto the Bow River with what looked like a suicide note locked inside. If you click on my previous post you’ll see it (sorry I don’t know how to link to it). I just wanted to let anyone who is interested know how it all turned out.
So after I got the call that his truck had been found and the park was being searched I called my Dad, who rushed to work to pick up my Mom and bring her home. The rest of the family was notified and we all sat on pins and needles all day waiting for an update.
When my Fiance came home from his dentist appointment that day I could not take the uncertainty anymore so he and I got in the car and rushed to the park where his truck was found. On the way there my brother called to say he had read on the Calgary Herald news that a body had just been pulled from the Bow River about 2 KM south of where the truck was found. I knew in my heart then it was over. We got there and saw two police cruisers parked beside a big pickup truck and the park cordoned off with yellow tape. I jumped out of the car and ran towards the tape waving my ID. Two cops came out and met me and they knew right away I was the niece who had reported him missing. They would tell me nothing really but when I asked the one cop whether he had read the note and whether he considered it a suicide note he said he did.
He asked us to go back to our car and hang out for awhile until the medical examiner could come talk to me, so we did. While we were waiting my cell phone rang and the guy identified himself as a homicide detective. He asked if my Fiance and I could drive across town to one of the stations to answer some questions. So we made our way there.
I was calling my family on our way there updating them on everything, but everyone was still kind of holding out some hope that it was not Dave (my uncle) that had been pulled from the river. My Mom was begging me not to identify the body.
So we get to the station and the detectives immediately separated Fiance and I and took us to separate interview rooms. They basically asked me to tell the whole story of how I came to report my uncle missing and essentially had me spill everything I ever knew about him. They were really nice and it was not really an interrogation. Fiance had never met my uncle but he told me later they just asked him some very basic questions for about 15 mins. They had me in a room for over an hour.
Finally the detectives said that was all the information they needed and they said I could go and they’d call the next day with an update. They said they did not need anyone to identify the body and they did not need to interview my parents or anyone else for that matter – I had given them all the info they needed. The one detective screwed up and said “The next step is to take Dave’s body for an autopsy”, to which I then asked him whether it was in fact my uncle they had pulled from the river. He said he could not confirm that yet but he already had by accidentally referring to the body by name.
So I then had to make the hardest call I will ever make and tell my Mom that her brother was dead. She was absolutely devastated. Her and Dad flew into Calgary the next morning and Fiance and I picked them up and took them for brunch. The detective called that afternoon and told me that my uncle had stabbed himself and was found with an 8 inch knife sticking out of his chest. The stab wound was not fatal but it did cause him to go into stress and he died of hypothermia. The medical examiner later gave us more details and she explained that he had acually not been pulled from the river…he parked his truck…walked 2 kilometres downstream through water waist deep, found a rock and deliberately sat down/propped his body upon it and then stabbed himself in the chest. She estimates it may have took up to 2 hours for him to die. The toxicology results will take months but they only expect to find high levels of alcohol in his system.
The detective phoned us back and read aloud the suicide note, which was addressed to my Mom and her other two siblings. My uncle basically just explained how he had watched his parents (my grandparents) work their whole lives only to retire for 5 – 10 years and suffer in poor health during retirement. Though he had nothing but respect for them, he never wanted to live that way. He said he had promised himself years ago that he would have his fun up front and worry about the later years later. He had planned to end it last February but my grandmother died first. He inherited about $40,000 afterwards and he decided to try one last time to go back to work, pay off his debts and be square with the world. But it didn’t happen – he was too fucken depressed or uncaring (his words). He said that he chose his life, lived it the way he wanted and checked out on his own terms. He said he had wanted to be closer but that 25 years had suddenly passed and there was no time. He said he did not know here he was going now but anything would be better than this terrible fucking life he was suffering through. He ended by joking that it would be a dry heat.
So needless to say this past week has been the most devastating one of my life. For seven days afterwards my Mom and Dad and Fiance and I played detective. We had to go through his apartment and grab his unopened mail, only to discover that he was $50,000 in debt and that he also had rented out a storage unit two months ago. So we used his mail to hack into his online banking to determine his last whereabouts. We know that he left his apartment early December and had been staying in a cheap motel drinking alone for the last few weeks. We know he was alive on December 30th ans he used his debit card that day to buy his last bottle, thereby bringing his $20,000 line of credit to $19,999.03. We believe he killed himself either that night or New Year’s eve – the same day I reported him missing.
We got to his storage locker and found out he had left my Mom as a contact, so he wanted us to find it. We went through it and took out any family heirlooms and then locked it up again. It was almost as if he took all important things out of his apartment and locked it in storage in case he changed his mind about the suicide…there was enough stuff in there for him to start over again if he wanted. Fiance and I will go back and finish the job of emptying it in a few weeks but it was just too much to do at once. We also decided to buy his truck and sell ours.
We decided to have his remains cremated, but my parents and I did get to view the body and say goodbye at the funeral home beforehand. It was oddly calming for me to see him there one last time. He looked exactly like the Uncle Dave I had always known….and he looked so peaceful and warm covered up in the quilt with the lights dimmed in the room and candles lit. He must have been so cold when he died alone at the river so I noticed right away how warm he looked in that room. My Mom and Dad finally flew home with his remains yesterday. Come summer they plan to take him home to Newfoundland and have him laid to rest between my grandparents. They have been hrough so much this past week that I don’t think the reality of what happened has hit them yet…it has barely hit me.
Sorry for the novel…I just wanted to let you know what happened. It is so fucken devastating and sad. We are all wondering what he could have done or said to make him act differently or ask us for help. But the truth is he most have been in an unbelievable amount of pain to do what he did. He was less afraid of dying than he was of carrying on living the way he was. Alcoholism is so tragic. Fuck…it’s so sad.