Parents Of Suicide
Writings Library

Mandy Tanses
November 28, 1999

It was 5:00 a.m. on the morning of September 16, 1978 and my water broke. There was a wedding scheduled that day for my mother to attend. I called my mother and said, "Can you come over to watch Sarah while we go to the hospital?" Sarah is Geoff's older sister by 27 months, and with no questions asked, my mother watched Sarah and we knew that Grandma's word was good. At that time we didn't know if we would be having a girl or a boy. We already had a girl and I think the news of having a boy was wonderfully overwhelming. I delivered Geoffrey Patrick Tanses and our family was complete.

Geoffrey was always a screamer when he was a baby. We couldn't figure out why he would cry and scream every night at about 6:00 p.m. I finally realized that I had his eating and nap schedules the same as Sarah's and that wasn't working for him. When I adjusted Geoffrey's schedule to his little body, he was a wonderfully happy and quiet baby. He and Sarah loved to play with each other, and they were always smiling and laughing together. Sarah adored Geoffrey as her little brother and wanted to help with him in anyway she could. And she did. They were extremely close and protective of each other from a very young age.

Both of my children had a suburban, middle class upbringing and I feel that this is a rarity for so many young people today. They never gave my husband and me any major trouble except for a "bash" that happened because, innocently, Sarah let a handful of people know that her Dad and I weren't going to be home. Word got around and it was a disaster for Sarah. Also, one night my husband and I went to a St. Patrick's Day Dinner Dance and Geoff knew we would not be home for a good six to eight hours. We were only about one mile from home and I happened to get a run in my stockings so my husband ran home to get a new pair of stockings for me. When he got to the house he found Geoff and his friends socially engaged in alcohol and conversation. They were all approximately 17 years old. They were shooed out of the house and Geoff was told to stay home. Other than those events, Sarah and Geoff were the average kids.

When I say average, I mean, Geoff got caught drinking underage about three times and had to go to Teen Court and they both tried pot and they both confessed a few other things. Sometimes I didn't want to hear as much as they told me, but my kids were always honest with me. I think that these instances were typical of the majority of kids their age. Both Sarah and Geoff had after school jobs and it seems to me they both were normal, productive individuals as teenagers and young adults with a good work ethic. Anything they did that "went against the grain" was never a "problem."

Since Sarah was three grades ahead of Geoff, during high school they didn't always have the same views, beliefs, interests, or friends. They went through the "normal" sibling rivalry that I think is common between a brother and sister; it certainly was for my brother and me, so I can relate to my kids' relationship. It seems they both came into agreement on life issues after Geoff graduated in 1997. I do know that they always loved, cared, and stood up for each other.

Geoff took a year off after high school. He worked full time so that he could save money to go to Purdue University Calumet Campus. The relationship he had been seriously involved in was reduced to being just friends. He was devastated by this, but seemed to be handling it. Cori and Geoff still talked on the phone and he would see her and help if she needed something. He was always accommodating, no matter what. I think he tried so hard to "just be friends" but, I know he always had hope that they would get back together. She was the love of his life.

It was about one or two months before he died that he started dating a girl named Molly. He had known her for a few years during high school. He cared about Molly because of the person she was, and at the same time tried desperately to forget the past relationship.

On June 6, 1999, Geoff and his friend Alex went to a graduation party for a friend of theirs. When they walked into the party Geoff saw his ex-girlfriend, Cori with a new boyfriend. I guess deep down in his soul he never could forget her and he was dead two hours later. I'm sure Cori has suffered the loss of Geoff, too.

To our knowledge and understanding, Geoff dropped Alex off and said, "I'll talk to you in the morning." It seems to me that he had every intention of doing that. This was about 9:30 p.m. Geoff came home and came downstairs to the family room where his Dad and I were and said, "Did anyone call me?" We said, "No." He checked the Caller ID and headed upstairs to his room, so we thought. I think that was about 10:15 or 10:30.

Now I think that between the time he came to our house and left again, something happened, something that sent him over the edge. It is not clear and probably will never be clear to us. Only to the people if any that saw him. Now we know that he went into his room, tore a piece of paper out of his notebook and wrote, "I'm Sorry, Geoff." Then he went into our room, got his dad's gun out of the dresser, came downstairs, smiled at his sister Sarah and her girlfriend Katie and left the house. He drove to the park in our subdivision (only about a mile away) and shot himself in the right temple.

On June 7, 1999 at 2:30 a.m., my husband and I were rustled out of bed by the doorbell. I thought that either Sarah or Geoff forgot their keys. All I remember is my husband saying, "Oh my God Mandy, It's the police." I ran downstairs and was faced by two police officers, a detective, and a police chaplain. I think they said, "We're very sorry, but we found your son at Meadows Park in his car dead and it appears to be suicide." I just remember ending up on our dining room floor. I don't remember how I got there, but the chaplain was trying to pick me up.

The news that night changed our lives forever. I will never be the same person I was and I know that my husband, our daughter, Sarah and Geoff's grandma, Joan will never be the same. We miss Geoffrey so much and we will always wonder why Geoffrey decided to do this. I have a hard time believing that we will have to live without him for the rest of our lives. It is inconceivable to me that my son could do this. He was, in our eyes, the perfect son with the average imperfections. Nobody is perfect, but, Geoff was about as close to perfect as a kid or young person these days could be.

We have and will continue to grieve in our own ways. Grandma Joan grieved for her child (me) and her grandson at the same time. Sarah and Geoff had a lot of the same friends, so when Sarah goes out it is hard for her to see all their friends getting on with their lives when her brother is gone. It makes her feel so bad. We cry together many times. My husband cries on and off, but he makes sure he keeps so busy that he actually blocks it out of his mind. I said to him one day, "Tell me how you block it out so I can do that," but naturally he didn't have an answer and I am sure it wouldn't have worked for me. Certain things he sees triggers the sadness and reality of it, and I think he grieves a little more each time.

I myself was in a thick fog from June 7, 1999 for months and months. Still in a fog, I finally went back to work on October 4, 1999 which made my mind sway in a different direction, although Geoff (and the fog) was right there in my mind all day. I just didn't have a chance to dwell on it, so the work was a healthy diversion. I still live one day at a time and probably always will until I die. I have okay days and I have bad days. The sad thing is, I never have good days or normal days. Those days are gone forever. If Geoffrey had known this, he would still be here. He would never have hurt us this bad. Going forward in my life anything that happens to me, no matter how tragic, will never compare to the devastation I feel without Geoffrey. Everything else will pale in comparison.

To My Dearest Geoff, .......My world was Dad, Sarah and you and now that you are gone my world is incomplete forever. There will always be a huge piece missing in my life that can never be replaced. I wish I could have eased the hurt so that you were still here with us, but I am so sorry I didn't recognize the pain you were in. I would have done anything to have taken it away. I love you forever. Until we meet again, Love Mom, Dad, Sarah & Grandma.

Written by:
Mandy Tanses
November 27, 1999