This Actually Happened.

November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was sitting outside on my porch & a man came by walking his dog. He got my attention by making the kind of “Gee, it’s weird it’s cold” comment you get used to hearing in Houston in November, & then proceeded to tell me that I might like to know that a man down the street recently took his own life. This man who was telling me about it, apparently, is the one who found him. He then went on to describe a series of disturbing details: a brief psychological profile of the recently deceased & a run-down of his health problems; speculations as to what had driven him to shoot himself & how it may have been related to the aforementioned health problems; why he wasn’t disturbed to have found his friend dead in the garage (he’d “been in Vietnam”); that the dog he was walking belonged to his mother, who’d also died; how exactly his mother died.

I didn’t know what to do or say. To try & atone for my completely inadequate response to all of this, I spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out more about the man who died based on what I knew which, though what I did know felt like a lot, yielded surprisingly little in the Google category. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find him, but here’s what I did learn.

  • Three men named Walter have died in Houston in the last week.
  • Because of the coy nature of obituaries, “suicide” is an unsuccessful search parameter.
  • If the Houston Chronicle obituary search engine can’t turn up a name you enter, it gives you the option of searching on something called MyLife for the same name to connect with old friends.
  • There’s such a thing as a Sympathy Floor Basket.
  • That come to think of it, trying to reconnect with old friends with the same name as the person you know who’s died is either a little creepy or a brilliant coping strategy.

I started writing this post thinking it’d make me feel a little better but it hasn’t. Oddly, I did read this obituary just yesterday, which is quite beautiful, & which I offer now in lieu of the one I wasn’t able to find.



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