Be Calm. God awaits you at the door.Gabriel García Marquez
I’ve never put into writing what happened the day I first visited the tracks after your death. The day I needed to face, head on, what I could not see or understand. The day I found what you left for me. The day I began to see.
I would like to tell you now.
It was Monday. I dropped the boys off at school and began heading south. I knew, as I was driving, that I wasn’t alone. I knew, in my heart, that I had to get to the exact location before I could gain even the smallest bit of clarity.
My navigation led me to the parking lot of the train station. I imagined you pulling in there, knowing of your intentions, as your father dropped you off. I parked and emotions began to infiltrate my space. Visions of you walking through there, alone, on that day, began to haunt me.
I took a deep breath and started walking. I learned of the exact point where you entered the station so I proceeded to follow in your precise footsteps. It was raining. You know how much I love the rain and the dark, soothing, comfort of such a day. This day was anything but comfortable, yet I was determined to find comfort from you, somehow.
I was bundled up in my favorite, oversized rain jacket and my NY Yankees baseball hat, pulled down low. I didn’t want anyone to see me, except for you. I knew you were there. I knew that you were walking with me. I also knew that you realized, in that moment, how deeply I cared. You saw the fighter in me, as you always had. You were proud of me for showing up in search of answers. In search of truth. As much as I was searching for these answers, I really was hoping it would be revealed that none of this was true at all. I waited for you to walk around each corner. I stood by the men’s bathroom, waiting for you to come out. You never appeared.
Dearest Michael, I felt your presence, greatly in that space and in that moment.
The station was empty, except for you and me. I saw a sign for the Amtrak office and, holding back my tears, I walked in, hoping to find out anything. I assumed they knew of the incident and I expressed that I was the best friend of the deceased and asked if I could see the conductor. I was anxious to connect and hear anything at all, as it pertained to you. They regretfully expressed that he took a leave of absence as a result of the trauma he faced, witnessing your last, physical second on earth. I was given the train number and the exact mile post marker from where you jumped. I was told there was a video and they confirmed that it was intentional and not an accident. This, I suppose I already knew, but the confirmation didn’t lessen the shock in any way.
I headed out of the office, with my head down, and proceeded to walk the route toward the marker, tracing your steps. I stopped at various points along the way. As each train passed, I stood very still, with my eyes closed, grounded to the floor beneath me. I calculated the speed at which you decided would be fast enough to make the necessary impact. I stared right into the eyes of the conductors as they passed, wondering.
I knew I had to continue on, so I set myself in motion once again, on the path, toward the marker. As I slowly approached the location, I noticed a liquor store at the corner and wondered if you had gone in there for a snack or a bottle of water. I imagined you had so I went inside looking for more. I walked up to the counter and introduced myself to the owner. I showed him your picture and asked if he had heard about the incident. I wondered if he’d ever had the pleasure of chatting with you. I just stood there and cried.
He said he saw you every morning the week before. He said you had a warm smile. He said you were kind and gentle. When he could clearly see that I didn’t know where to go from there and that I wasn’t feeling comforted after his numerous expressions of condolences, he put his head down and sighed. He felt very sad and wanted to help. His compassion was genuine. He then told me that his son was working the evening it happened. He said I could wait and speak with him further.
I waited. I needed anything that would somehow make me feel closer. I needed anything that would help me believe that this was not real. I needed to know that it wasn’t you. The more I heard, the more I had to face that it was, in fact, You.
I walked outside, with tears still in my eyes, my head down again. The street which intersected with the track was a quaint, tranquil street, only a couple of blocks from the ocean. It reminded me of a sleepy beach town far, far away. I saw people walking their dogs, breathing in the fresh, ocean air and pondering life. Beach communities have a certain relaxed, easy going atmosphere and that atmosphere was soothing in a way. I stood there, taking it all in and wondering how that peaceful street would ever be the same.
I wondered if any of these people witnessed your departure. I wondered about the people at the crosswalk on that evening. I wondered where you sat when you were calling me, only moments before.
I just stood there for a minute, contemplating all of it. I then, slowly proceeded toward the exact location of your jump.
In the near distance, I saw a young man with glistening, somewhat opaque, blue eyes and a surf board standing near the tracks. I wondered how the color of his eyes were so vivid from that distance but I didn’t question it, really. It was as if time stood still in that moment. I didn’t see anyone else except for this seemingly supernal being standing right there.
We both paused and just stared at one another. I wasn’t afraid. I also wasn’t surprised. I just stood there looking at him, as he sturdily, and deliberately, stood there looking at me. He then, with such a soft spoken and genuine voice, said to me, “You knew him.”
In that moment, I wondered how this complete stranger, one week after your death, saw a woman walking out of the liquor store and would know, with such certainty, that I knew you. I still think about the magnitude of that moment and that connection.
Logic didn’t matter. I just walked toward him, he opened his arms and embraced me and we both cried, uncontrollably.
He then proceeded to tell me that he was a witness to your death. He took notice of you, standing at the cross walk that evening. He wondered why you were so close to the tracks. He considered the possibility, of what he feared might occur, as he somehow felt connected to your pain. He just sat there, looking at you, from his balcony.
He said you were holding a book against your chest. He wondered about the book. It was mine. Love In the Time of Cholera. You asked for my copy just weeks before. I didn’t know it would be returned to me just a few short weeks later, from the Coroner. I didn’t know that this book would hold even more significance than it already had.
As I sat there, days after your death, I was being given even further proof that this really did happen and that it really was you. I couldn’t escape it. The ethereal being, Chase, continued.
He said it all happened so quickly but as he reflected upon the incident, he said it occurred in slow motion, like a violent, shocking, horror film. As the anguish filled the air, the beautiful sunset settling behind and the harrowing stillness of time, he watched you dive, with force and intention, right in front of the speeding train.
He hesitated to speak further.
I didn’t know, Michael, how to manage the intensity of emotions running through my body in that moment. I needed more and I was counting on you to provide something. Anything.
I asked him, if he was able, to please tell me everything. I was so sad and sorry for him. He will never be able to escape that vision. That horror. The nine year old boy who was sitting at the intersection with his mother, will never be the same. Many, those of us left here, will never be the same. I will not be angry, Michael. I only want peace. For you, for me, for the ones who witnessed, the ones who loved you, and all of us, left behind to question.
As Chase and I stood there, I asked him to walk with me on the track. I told him I needed to find something. I knew you would show me a sign that you were still present. He assured me that I wouldn’t find any evidence of your remains or tokens of remembrance. He said that crews were there for several hours, cleaning up. He said that he had already walked and and combed the track in order to face this reality and to know that it was not just a fabricated nightmare of his own creation.
I didn’t accept that. I walked and stood and waited. I didn’t see anything. I still waited. I stood right on the exact spot where you jumped, which Chase pointed out to me. The spot was discolored, almost like they added a quick, fresh coat of paint to it, moments ago. I stared and waited. I closed my eyes. I took a deep, peaceful breath.
All of my beliefs, All of my faith and understanding that I’d gained up until that very second of my life, needed to manifest into something. I needed proof. I needed something tangible. I believed, with all of my heart, that you would somehow prove this to me. A sign from you was the only acceptable offering that would get me through this moment in time. I then, took another peaceful breath, gently opened my eyes, and looked down at the ground for this powerful, manifestation to suddenly appear.
I tremble precariously on the precipice of existence. Everything in this universe possesses both wave and particle nature. I often study the aspects of vibrations and molecules and the fact that they can subsist in multiple states at the same time. I initiated the current. I seized the shift. I inhaled. I calibrated myself to the frequency of your breath. I silently sketched the outcomes in my mind and in my heart. As these deductions unraveled, I was suddenly awakened by a radical stimulus. This beat, residing within my chest, reminded me to pay close attention to the soft whispers and the unexplainable forces.
You powerfully and peacefully joined me right there. On those tracks, where you jumped and took your life. On that footprint, where I would then stand, in order to reclaim my own. In a space where I would have no choice but to make some kind of peace with this, in order to step off myself.
What I found, to this day, amazes me, beyond explanation.
I bent down and picked up your tattered, broken glasses.
Chase looked at me and told me there was no way those glasses belonged to you. He told me there wasn’t anything that possibly could have remained. I assured him, they were yours. I pulled out my phone and showed him recent photos of you wearing them. He was in shock. I was not. I was peaceful, still, so very thankful.
You left me your glasses, Michael. The lenses were gone. The arms, detached and missing. I stood there, holding this sacred, material, symbol of your vision. The significance overwhelmed me, yet centered me.
I gathered all of the fragments of your being in that space and time. I contemplated the possibilities and the probabilities. I analyzed the paradigms. The circulation propagated my thoughts and transmitted what I believed to be logic however, I knew the truth.
This wasn’t logic at all.
You were my best friend. You were suffering deeply and I knew it but I never, ever considered that you would take your life. Ever. I never considered that I would be facing each day, without your human presence.
Without your smile.
We promised each other that we would always be here. We promised that we would find hope, even when situations appeared to be hopeless. We promised to always do our best. To call. To show up. To get through. No matter what. We ended each note, each conversation with, “ I am so grateful for your existence. I don’t feel alone, because of you.”
I never prepared myself for this.
I am still. I am listening. I am receptive and open. I witness signs and feel your presence, each day. I am seeking deeply within for answers, understanding and clarity.
I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. I know you were desperate to annihilate your own pain. You said to me, only days before, “I’m tired of fighting. I just wish I could get through a day, without the day being all about my emotions. I wish I didn’t have to FEEL this much, all of the time.”
I, too, am deeply connected to my emotions, as you always knew. We were always pondering and contemplating and analyzing the big picture of what this life is all about. We were always in search of meaning and purpose. We deeply examined and probed for an answer to the question, “Why?”
I understood you then and I am doing my best to understand you now.
I miss you. Every. Single. Day. I still can’t believe you are gone. I spend my time being so conscious and so grateful for my existence. I spend each moment holding on to this precious, fragile bestowal of life.
You chose the END for yourself. You didn’t peacefully walk to the other side. You didn’t willfully sink into a slumber from which you’d never wake.
You violently, tragically Departed.
I will forever regret missing your calls just 23 minutes before. Could I have stopped you? What did you want to say? What could I have done? Why? Please tell me why.
My alarm is set to go off at 7:49pm each evening, as a reminder of when you saw your last sunset. That desperate moment when you made the choice to dive in front of a train. That moment, when I must believe, you chose freedom.
I do my best to rationalize and justify. I assure myself that you never intended to afflict such pain or trauma on me or anyone else. I convince myself that your pain was greater than your concern for me or what this would do to others. I tell myself that you couldn’t have truly been in your right mind yet, you calculated every move leading up to that moment.
I still have so many questions.
I know that illness, pain, suffering and death appear throughout our lives in order to give us opportunities to go higher.
To go Deeper.
To Truly SEE.
I know that I am connected to you. I know this will never change.
I know that I am connected to this much higher place.
To the Truth. To Life. To Soul. To Spirit.
I promise to stand in your place and live this life as fully, presently and consciously as possible.
Your eyes will see what I see.
Your heart will experience the infinite love surrounding me and the precious beats echoing within my own.
Your soul will be a part of mine.
I will see not only what you couldn’t but I will see more clearly what you always wished I would.
Thank you for the gift of your sight.
Thank you for leading me to this point, where I can see myself, through your eyes.
Even when I have so many questions. Even when I don’t see clearly.
The answers come. The light shines. The LOVE exists. Always.
May you rest in peace, until I see you again, my beloved, dearest Michael.
In Love and Everlasting Memory,
Michael John McClain
August 1, 1973 – April 24, 2018
❤️ Sandy Gordon Frankfort
To those suffering in any way, please know
that You Are NOT Alone.
Suicide Does not end the chances of Life getting worse.
Suicide eliminates the possibility of Life ever getting better.