I would love to tell you about Erik--it's been almost 6 months, many days it still feels like I just found him. Erik is/was (that past tense is hard) a very handsome, smart, kind, funny, & sensitive guy. 6ft tall, & "buff" to quote his peers.
He was born 6 days after my 30th birthday, so we're both Libras--don't know if that was part of the closeness we felt--but we were friends as well as mother and son. One of the nicest things anyone said to me after his death, was from his kind-of girlfriend--who told me that that was the way he had described me to her.
Anyway, Erik is the second oldest of 5 kids--Sarah is now 21, Erik had just turned 17, Mackenzie is now 16, Matt is now 15 and Whitney is now 13. Every one of them had their birthdays after...
Erik's dad & I are divorced and of course there were some people who wondered if he had been depressed over the divorce. The truth was, Erik at the age of 14 had taken me aside one day & asked me if when something was broken, and can't be fixed, shouldn't you get rid of it?--I had been waffling about the separation, thinking about giving his dad one more last chance at counseling....Erik loved us both, but knew that we would all be better off not living together & he was right--the divorce was a good thing for all concerned.
Erik had been having problems getting to school--he had been depressed last spring but as soon as school was out, he got a job & loved it--he had an '89 Jeep Cherokee that was his pride & joy. He had friends, he had plans for the future, and he wanted to live.
When school started in the fall, he had some cool clothes--his sister Mackenzie & I had taken him on a marathon-shopping trip & he was feeling good about it. He had a great smile, but he was self-conscious that his teeth weren't perfect (all the other kids either had or were in braces) so we decided to get him into orthodontic treatment too. He was excited about it, and the orthodontic staff was so taken with his enthusiasm.
His best friend is in Austria as an exchange student this year--he missed Steven, but they e-mailed each other & Erik was researching air fares for a trip over Christmas break--I'm definitely not rich, but it seemed like a great opportunity for Erik to see Europe & we were giving it serious consideration.
So what happened?
On October 8th, Erik & Sarah took us all out to lunch to celebrate my birthday (it's the 5th but Sarah had to work that day & so did I--on my actual birthday Erik, Mackenzie & Whitney showed up with a bouquet & sang Happy Birthday to me in front of the nurse's station--I'm an ER nurse).
The next time Erik came to the ER he was in cardiac arrest, just about 2 weeks after he'd been there leading a chorus of Happy Birthday. He was having trouble sleeping, couldn't seem to get off to school--we talked with his counselors at school--rearranged his schedule so he could start later--he was doing a college/high school combo so had some leeway.
He started taking Paxil, tried several sleep med., trying to get things under control. On his 17th birthday, he isolated himself from everyone, wouldn't come out of his room--so unlike him--things just kept getting worse--the more school he missed, the more pressure he felt, the more trouble he had sleeping.
I knew things were really getting bad--I'd gotten him appointments with our family doctor, a therapist & a psychiatrist to see about adjusting med. to get him some relief. He had an appointment to see our doctor Friday morning--I'd asked his dad to take time off from work so that I could be sure Erik would go, because at that point I didn't think he would without "back-up".
Gordon insisted that Erik spend the night at his house instead & he'd take him from there...Erik seemed to be in good spirits that afternoon (he'd slept most of the day) he took a shower, got dressed & then came upstairs while I was fixing dinner. He came over & hugged me for the longest time, telling me he loved me.
This was totally in character for him, but it scared me, it sounded like a good bye & I asked him outright if he was thinking of "hurting himself"--he kind of flinched & said "oh, mom, no, I just wanted to tell you I loved you". I finally asked him if we could sit down because my knee was hurting & he said "no, I've got to go get ready for Dad."
We talked a little more about nothing much...I was relieved that he was willing to go along with getting help, because he had really avoided previous attempts--he just wanted to be able to take an anti-depressant & not have to talk to anybody about it!!
About 30-40 minutes later I went downstairs to call him for dinner--there was no answer & his door was locked. I knew that he'd done something--I thought frantically about what he could have taken--as I got a key to his room---never in a million years did I imagine I would find him hanging from his top bunk.
I would never allow guns in my house, but who ever thinks an extension cord would be fatal....It struck me as I was screaming--he must have really wanted to do this--the kid is taller than this bed, how did he do it???
Matt was the only other person home, he helped me cut Erik down & called 911- I did mouth to mouth, but I realized that he was gone & if his heart did get started again it would truly be a fate worse than death.
Gordon & Whitney arrived before the police & paramedics--he was already on the way out to pick Erik up--It was so weird--Gordon insisted on doing CPR--I was afraid it would work & Erik would be a vegetable but I did mouth to mouth anyway. In over 20 years of emergency nursing the only person I've ever actually done mouth-to-mouth on was my son...
Of course, I knew the paramedics & police from work--it's a pretty small community and word traveled fast--we had so many people there for us.
This might sound really bizarre, but Erik's death was the worst & best experience of my life. It meant so much that people who had no idea what to say would talk to us anyway---my friends have truly saved my life, and I just don't know how people who don't have support can possibly survive this.
10/11/83 - 10/19/00