It’s been over a year and piece by piece I am getting the picture of what Charles was thinking those last days. Where he went. Why he did it. How he felt. This one has been churning in my head like a hamster wheel. So I have to let it out.
He was supposed to go with a group of others to the west end of Richmond around the end of May 2015. He had been living at a house with others suffering from heroin addiction and they stuck together like family. A friend of his said he refused to go with them. That’s so unlike Charles to choose to be alone. This was his greatest fear. He must have felt awful at this point.
During the time they are gone, he sinks lower and lower and keeps texting and asking them when they might be back. Before they left, these friends tell me they tried to get him to join them in a cookout but he refuses to come out.
On the Monday before he posts his last post on Facebook, he goes to the pawn shop to sell his computer and bike. I learn about this from a call he made to my husband and my heart hurts, just sinks. He loved that computer.
He tells his Dad, “I have nothing.” Both his Dad and I feel terrible. We are holding our boundary but it’s so hard. In the mean time our house sells and we are preparing that at the same time. Two highly emotional events at once.
The path to home had to be detox, sober house first. Besides, we have a delay between the house we sold and the new one being move-in ready, so there is no house for him to live in.
In that last week, he goes to Walmart with a friend and they steal some candy. He doesn’t let on how depressed he is. Apparently, he doesn’t steal to buy drugs. We were hoping he would and get arrested. Prayed for that to happen.
He visits the music studio and sits there all day and writes and records a partial song called Mr. Dopeman. Writing always worked before when he is down and helped him hang on.
Charles then posts on Facebook, “If I died, no one would notice for 30 days.” Many thought he was kidding. He was not. A friend of his that suffered from depression calls him and immediately goes and picks him up. He spends almost 2 days straight with Charles. Puts him up in a hotel for two nights.
He has to leave at one point and comes back, Charles is not where he said he was going to be and loses track of him.
I call the last number on his phone, it’s a guy Charles tried to beg to get him drugs. The young man says he doesn’t sell any more. He has gotten out of jail and he has straightened himself out. He tells me Charles sounded desperate.
This is his last phone call ever.
At this point, he feels many of his friends have “abandoned” him. He doesn’t realize that his drug habit is driving people away. When he does heroin, he ends up in the bathroom for hours throwing up. He nods off in conversations and is not really with it. His friends can’t tolerate it.
His brain tells him he is just a worthless junkie. No one cares about junkies.
A myriad of other things happened, such as a break up, a phone call with me that doesn’t have the outcome he wanted, no one coming back to the apartment when he expected, and feeling physically terrible so he was alone with his thoughts, running out of money and the impending fear he had of withdrawal from heroin and whatever else is mixed in there.
We’re thinking we can pick him up that weekend and take him back to detox.
He takes my lack of realizing I needed to come to the rescue as an indication that we no longer care.
My tender-hearted child was way in over his head. Not at all street smart. He feels abandoned by everyone he loves when in fact, we are waiting for him to “come around”–something he was entirely incapable of at the time. And he killed himself.
It will always make me sad that he felt so alone and unloved in the end.
“Can’t tell if I’m laughing or crying,
All I know is I’m mother fuckin’ dying,
You left me here on this island,
to drown me in the misery I lie in.” – Charles Rap Diary
This is why I keep up conversation with active addicts through messaging because I know now how unloved they feel and how much they want out of that vicious cycle. That’s why I will smile, wave or hug someone I know that is in active addiction. They need that sense of connection even when they are using if we have any hope of their reaching out.
We as a village can do that. We can listen without judgment. We can show love or offer a smile or a nod. You have no idea how much of a difference treating someone as a human being can make.
5 thoughts on “So what was Charles thinking up until he took his own life?”
i try to figure out what whitten’s last days were like constantly. he wasn’t an addict, and we think it was an alchohol hazed accident. i think of him alone it his room in his empty apartment. his roomies had moved and we were going up after christmas to help him get some new furniture, and paint and decorate it. we reached out. we tried so hard to do and say the right thing. his last text was fine. when he left work he was fine. there was nothing telltale on his computer about suicide. his therapist said he was seeming better. then he was gone.
I know. I have that note he left which was indicated he felt abandoned, making a difficult situation even harder.
My heart aches for you. I said something very similar regarding Charliejohn’s last days. Alone and despondent. It breaks my heart. Charles knew you loved him as did my son. Please hang onto that always. They were both sick. But both knew they were loved. 💙
My heart is breaking for you now and for Charles before the end. As parents, we focus on protecting them from the world, not realizing they often need protecting from themselves as much or more. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
So true Anne. I read this article after Daniel dies “The Cure for Addiction is Community” http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/healing-addiction-through-community-a-much-longer-road-than-it-seems2.
I believe this, so much in fact, that we moved into a community where we encounter more people on a regular basis who need to feel seen. I also believe it needs to be by people who are not family. There is something about acknowledgment by someone who has no reason to care other then because God cares.
You might be interested in what the Richmond City Jail & Into the Neighborhood is hoping to do by creating a community outside of the jail & rehab for those who are struggling to continue to feel/be welcomed, heard, and loved.