Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Death and Taxes

[Vantana Ranch, Craig's last neighborhood - he loved the view of the Rio Grande Valley and the mountains beyond]

On April 18, 2010 I was in Denton at the University of North Texas speaking to a student theology group sponsored by the Methodists. My cell phone rang, but as was my practice, I ignored it while I was in a face-to-face meeting. But the caller was persistent, and after the third call in 4 minutes, I picked up. It was my Robin calling to tell me I had received a letter from Craig. This was so unusual (He generally remained incommunicado for months at a time. It normally took multiple calls and e-mails before Craig would respond), she had a premonition this was bad and opened the letter. It began, "By the time you get this, I will be dead...."

My first response was to be doubtful. Craig had tried to kill himself once before, but he had also mused on the idea of suicide the entire 28 years I had known him. I told my deeply distraught wife I could imagine he meant to do it, but then changing his mind. I called friends in Albuquerque to go out to his house in Vantana Ranch and see if he would answer the door. Then I went back to finished my presentation. But even as I began to speak, I knew it was true. Unable to continue, I apologized and made my departure.

As the letter revealed, the date he chose to die by his own hand, on April 16, was significant. The day before before he died was "tax day." That was the day, I think, that the dire abyss of his financial situation (no job, a mortgage in arrears, maxed out CCs) drove him to despair about his future.

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