Surviving Suicide – Part 21
Dec. 2000 – Rob’s last month:
I got up December 26th and was just exhausted. Was glad I’d gotten through Christmas and didn’t have to socialize for a while. I still had not heard from Rob but was just too tired to even try calling and just took it easy. I think I had called my girlfriend on the boat beside ours to see if there was any sign of Rob and she said no and his car was still there.
One strange thing Rob did during this last month was to not drive his Rover for the past few weeks. We had an old beater in the shop from somewhere and he drove that for the last few weeks. I found that odd, but considering the month, it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary either. When Rob had bought his first BMW 320i which was his pride and joy, he didn’t drive it in the winter either because of the salt and also it was too powerful for the slippery winter roads, so I figured something like that was going on again.
I do remember thinking how depressing the old car was, and thought it would make him even more depressed, but I think he was past caring at that point.
On December 27th I had to go into work for a bit. I dropped my son off to a friend’s house who had a daughter the same age as my son. They had played together for years at the yacht club. I came into work and was doing some paperwork up that needed to be done so I could get my car emission tested as it was due December 31st. I remember calling Rob at the boat and leaving a message that reminded him his vehicle, the Rover, was also due and that he should call me if I needed to book the appointment with the garage we dealt with that did the testing as we didn’t have the equipment.
I could have done his car too, but was running out of time and figured it was the least he could do. I didn’t hear back. I tried calling him again and left another message. Then I called my girlfriend on the boat beside ours and asked once again whether she’d seen Rob at all. She said no, the blinds are drawn on the boat and she hadn’t seen him at all over the past few days, but his car was still in the parking lot and now really buried in snow.
I asked her if she’d do me a big favour, and it really was a huge favour to ask. I asked her to please walk over to our boat and knock on the hull and I told her if Rob came out and was rude to her, to please just deal with it and tell him everyone was worried they’d not heard from him and to please call me or his Mom. She paused for many seconds and said “You want ME to go over there?”. I knew how uncomfortable she was doing this because Rob had threatened many common friends at the yacht club 2 months prior to this because I wouldn’t tell him who had told me about his affairs.
So because he didn’t know who, he suspected everyone and was pretty verbal and threatening to all. A few of our friends were very worried and scared of Rob. They knew he had guns, they were concerned he may have one on the boat, which he did illegally at the time, but once the cops confiscated them all, he didn’t have access. This threatening really frightened my girlfriend and her boyfriend on the boat beside us, they’d been friends with us for years, so this is why she was so afraid to now go over and knock on our boat.
I told her Rob was in no shape to be violent, but if he was, I apologized ahead of time but just really needed to know if he was on board. When all of the affairs first came out when we’d separated, I was so mortified that everyone at our club knew and I’d not been back to the club since Feb. 2000 and really didn’t want to go there now as I felt it was Rob’s turf and not mine. My girlfriend said she’d go over, I said just knock on the boat, you don’t have to do anything else and then call me back.
I went back to what I was doing and about 10 minutes later I thought “geez it doesn’t take that long to get off her boat and walk over to ours, wonder what she’s doing?”. I was just getting ready to call her again when she and another man from our club were at the entrance doors to my work. I knew immediately something was wrong. It was 2pm.
I walked over to unlock the doors, my girlfriend looked very shaken up and immediately burst out “He’s gone! He’s dead!”. I felt like the blood had gone out of my body, my legs were shaky and the only reply I gave was “it’s over”. I thought afterwards what that poor man who accompanied my girlfriend must have thought, that it was a pretty uncaring thing to say, but what I meant was all encompassing. I meant that it was over for Rob, the pain, the absolute torture and turmoil was over. For me I meant it’s over, I don’t have to wonder anymore, I don’t have to worry anymore, I don’t have to fight the good fight anymore, it was just over.
I can’t recall exactly what else was said, but I do remember that my girlfriend had actually knocked, Rob didn’t answer, so she boarded the boat and slid open the big sliding door that led into the main salon. Rob wasn’t to be seen and she noticed that the door to the bedroom was closed, so she went down those few stairs, opened it and found him dead. I guess at that point she was so in shock that she got off the boat and found this man who I didn’t really know, but had seen and he too had come on board to check.
I had gone into autodrive at this point. I knew I had to call my other girlfriend where my son was staying, I told her Rob had died and could she please not say anything to my son and could he please stay overnight, she said yes of course. I then called my sister-in-law and told her and she just shrieked and was beside herself, the anguish in her voice was just unbearable.
I told her I had to now go to the boat, that my son was staying with friends and that she should meet me at the yacht club. I then gathered up the bank books and cheques I had to deposit, knowing something would bounce if I didn’t make a deposit and was saying we had to stop at the bank first. My girlfriend said “Barb that can wait, we have to go to the boat, the police have been called.”
At that point it kind of snapped me out of automode, I realized it was only the 27th and I was okay until the 31st so I just grabbed my purse, put the alarm on and locked up the shop. My girlfriend insisted on driving my car, the club was only 5 minutes from our shop and I said I was okay to drive. She insisted, but she was the one not in any shape to drive and the other man followed in his car.
We parked my car and immediately headed for the boat. I walked down the dock, ours was the first boat and it was swarming with police. As I approached the steps to board my boat, a police officer came out and told me I really didn’t want to be doing that.
My initial response was to not be told what to do, but as I looked at the back of our boat, I could see everyone was wearing facemasks and I knew it must have been really bad, and for whatever reason, I conceded. My girlfriend and I walked back up the dock to the yacht club and went into the bar area which faced the back of our boat. By this time the news had already spread, and many members were already in the bar.
The bartender was a lovely older woman I’d known for years and she said “Oh Barb, I am so sorry!” I thanked her but was quite numb really. I remember sitting down in one of the club chairs so that I could see our boat and I barely left that spot for the rest of the time I was there.
The bartender brought me over a drink and placed it in front of me, I thanked her and just kept staring out the window. Other friends had heard and were showing up now and the bar area was filling up quite quickly. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly bad news travelled. Another really good girlfriend showed up, she’d been crying and just came up and hugged me and said how sorry she was. My eyes never really left our boat.
I was functioning but extremely focused on the boat. I could see all sorts of flashes going off inside our boat and I knew the police were taking pictures. My sister-in-law showed up walking around the back of the club and entering through the bar also. She was a mess! How on earth she drove I have no idea, she was crying and just beside herself and I told her what little I did know and that we were waiting on the coroner to come before they could remove Rob.
I don’t remember who called my brother, but somehow he too showed up. My Mom who lived out of town called me at the club and I spoke very briefly to her and told her Rob had died and filled her in but said I have to go and will call you later. I went back to my chair and continued watching. I recall the thoughts that were going through my mind, of all that had happened, how initially I hadn’t believed he’d do it and how now, after all the ups and down over the past month, that he was gone.
Others approached me to offer condolences, but I wasn’t really in any mindset to talk, I’d just acknowledge them, thank them and then look back to the boat. I wondered what was taking the coroner so long, I’d been there for hours. Some told me I should just go home, I told them No! I wasn’t leaving until I saw them bring Rob off. They stopped telling me that. I’d been at the club from about 2:10pm until 7pm when the coroner finally showed up.
This was just after Christmas and apparently it is a very busy time of year for the coroners. I remember the lady police officer coming up to the club to talk to me to get some details. I told her when I’d last spoken to Rob, that none of us had been able to reach Rob for many days, etc. She was very kind and told me the coroner should arrive soon.
My girlfriend who had found Rob had her boyfriend show up. He told me too how sorry he was, and then shortly after that, my girlfriend announced that they had to leave to go to a party. A party? Are you freakin’ kidding me? How on earth do you go through something like that and then go to a party? I was dumbfounded, but didn’t say much. I was pretty shocked and hurt that they’d leave at a time like this – it was a sign of things to come.
From the time the coroner arrived, it didn’t take long before they brought Rob off. I remember watching them carrying out a black bodybag, having one helluva time getting Rob down the steps of our boat. It was the dead of winter and everything including the docks were very slippery and icy. My heart was in my throat as I watched this, and when they laid Rob’s body down on the dock, I got upset thinking it was too cold! They got the stretcher down the dock and placed Rob on it and carefully made their way up the main dock and ramp to the dock that surrounded the club.
At that point I got my coat on, my brother, my sis-in-law and a few other really close friends walked me down the stairs to the dock. I remember thinking what a freezing cold night it was, the wind was howling and it took your breath away. My brother was clasping my arm so hard I thought he’d break it! I was perfectly fine and able to walk on my own, but I did allow him to hold on.
I walked up to Rob, I laid my hand on where I knew his would be and I closed my eyes for a moment. I could feel Rob’s wrist and how small it felt, he’d lost so much weight. I said my goodbyes to my husband on that cold windy night and was thinking what a strange way to say goodbye after all these years.
No one rushed me, I spent a few moments and even though it was brutally cold, I knew somehow this was it, that this was the only opportunity I’d have to say my goodbyes and I wasn’t to be rushed. As I’m writing this even now, almost ten years later, the tears still well up for me, so much emotion still is remembered. It is a night that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, I’ve accepted, done a lot of healing and moved on, but it still is something I think I will recall to my dying day.
The coroner and officers all were extremely kind, they didn’t rush me and stood back as I said my goodbyes. They were freezing too, but they didn’t interfere. When I was finished, I stepped back and the coroner pushed Rob to his vehicle. I stayed put where I was and waited until they had Rob safe and sound in their vehicle and then I wanted to go home.
I wasn’t crying, I was surprised I wasn’t. Pretty much everyone else around me was. We made our way back up the stairs, but for the life of me, can’t remember whether we went back in through the club or just around it to the parking lot. We all went back to my house, just family and a few dear friends. I was absolutely numb not only from the bitter cold, but from the day’s events.