What Gives You The Right to Commit Suicide?
Last updated 12/4/2014 at 11:20am
I woke up a few nights ago with a feeling I should be writing this. I've been urged to do so by several people especially by my close friend, Terry Porter, a former rock drummer who now has his own record label and is a film agent. I realized it was the whole story not just the last few years. If you are thinking about elective suicide, what gives you the right?
You may ask why I would say this. Well, here's my story.
I was conceived in August 1955. My mother had five children, four in her first marriage (all girls) and 1 came along in her second. My mother's second husband died in a motorcycle crash before her namesake was born. With no husband, it was going to be hard to raise the new child so she allowed his parents to raise her.
During her pregnancy with me, my mother knew that she was not going to be able to raise me as well. So, right after Thanksgiving, her three youngest daughters, my soon to be sisters, talked my mother into aborting me. On the day of the abortion, my oldest sister rushed into the clinic and pulled my mother out, telling her that if she could not take care of me, she would.
So, rather miraculously, I was born in June 1956. Over the next few years we moved often. Before my brother was born in Omak Washington in 1958 I was put up for adoption twice and once after. All three times I was "rescued" by my oldest sister.
From the time I was three-years-old, until I was eight, when my sister got married, I was constantly sexually abused by her and five others. (She and them, have since passed on). My father consistently beat me until I was about 11 years old when he came home drunk and I knocked him out as he was trying to hit me. He never touched me again.
When I was 13 years old my mother decided to leave my father and get a divorce. I was now "the man" of the family and I had to try to support the family. To her credit, my mother went back and got her high school diploma and went on to get her degree as a social worker. We moved to a small town outside of Greeley, Colorado, but my mother had her own demons to deal with.
When she was six-years-old, my mother experienced the death of her father while working in a mine in southeast Missouri. He received the Carnegie Hero Medal (posthumously). He had gone back inside the mine after the collapse to save some other men. None of them survived. His name was John Hussey and he may have been Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John". My grandmother died when my mother was 13 and all of the children (seven) were sexually abused by relatives in Washington.
When I was 18-years-old, my mother committed suicide, saying in her note that no one "liked or loved her." My mother worked at the "welfare" office in Greeley, Colorado, and was quite well known. She was buried in Brighton Colorado, almost 40 miles south of Greeley.
Weld County shut down the county offices, so that workers could attend the funeral. They knew that most people would have just taken the day off. At the cemetery, I counted over 100 cars in the procession. I was told over 250 people had attended and many could not get into the funeral home.
As in the movie, It's A Wonderful Life, I wish I could have told her to never think people don't care about you, like you and, especially, love you. We do! All you have to do is ask. At the Veteran's Hospital there is a great sign: "It Takes a Warrior to ask for Help". We all need to do that from time to time-ask for help.
So 250 people drove 40 miles to give my mother their last respects and they all came to my house after and the leftovers lasted a further two weeks. When everyone left that night, it was the loneliest I have ever felt.
I finished college, went to the military (United States Coast Guard, semper paratus), came home and then started a legal career for 10 years and then switched gears and started acting again, which led me to directing and making a few films.
I have four children, two ex-wives and now, five grandchildren. So this leads me to February 19, 2009. The week before, I'd gone to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Denver for an annual MRI of my brain. The reason was that in 2004 I had my first epileptic seizure and annually have to get it, my brain, checked.
I got a call from my doctor's assistant and she stated I needed to come in the next day. I knew it wasn't good and so I went in. He informed me I had a tumor the size of a nickel in my brain and appeared to be malignant. My options were surgery, chemo, radiation, chemo/radiation or the new laser surgery. Being a veteran, I knew that the laser surgery would not cost me anything, so we scheduled to have it done. It was an outpatient procedure and I came home that afternoon and slept for 36 hours.
Approximately three weeks later, I went in for the follow-up and the worst was about to unfold. I had another MRI and the tumor was gone, but however, they found what is known as a glioblastoma multiforme, several thin tumors and basically inoperable. I was told that I would not live until my next birthday.
My options were the same but, this time, no laser surgery and I was to take what is called the Stanford drug. One individual on the Stanford drug had been alive for 11 years. One doctor said that he wanted to perform surgery, but my neurologist told me I would not have quality of life if I did that. He suggested I go on the Stanford protocol with chemotherapy and so I did.
From the middle of March until my birthday in June, the chemo kicked my butt.
I contracted an infection in my neck area and ended in the hospital and discovered my blood sugar levels were around 600 and my A1C near18, and consequently, I ended up in a coma for three weeks.
Shortly thereafter, because of the coma and the tumors, I was shipped to the San Diego Naval base and then to Germany for evaluation and treatments. While in Germany, I suffered another three-and-a-half coma. When I woke up, I didn't know where I was. I was there approximately a month longer. There were a couple of times in which I had to be resuscitated and I had another coma, which was caused by a stroke.
At the end of October, I was back in Colorado and a friend of mine was visiting me. She indicated I was "not looking good" and told me that I was "coming back with her to Chicago" so she could "take care of me".
By Thanksgiving I was in Chicago and I remember taking a walk and thinking about what great friends I had and how God blessed me to still be alive. By this time some of the tumors had dissipated and others were shrinking.
I had always told my doctors if I felt like I was slipping away I was going to find a nice beach and enjoy Mai Tais until my demise. (Humorous since I quit drinking when I was 22.)
I continue to have issues with the tumors and the drugs. I now have two tumors in my colon, my neurological system is a mess. I also have arthritis, and have a finger that doesn't function, and I sleep for 12 hours a day. I can barely walk a half-a-mile, and have to pull myself up the eight steps to get to our condo. There are also a lot more issues. Of course I can't drive, and my doctor said that he just doesn't want his children out there when I do.
Now comes the hard part and this is why am I writing this? During the time I was in the midst of the comas, my friend, as I discussed, asked Terry if the plug should be pulled. I guess I was barely hanging on. Terry told her he could understand if she did, but he would not do it.
I realized that God had given me a mission and, of course, I have not fulfilled it yet, but I'm still working on it, and that is to empower women to lead. That's another story itself.
I am also now writing a few books, teaching, and getting a couple of my films ready to be produced. I have a new grandchild and my children and I are beginning to talk again. I'm beginning to dream again about things I can do. I am in constant discussions regarding world affairs and I have noticed people listen to you more when you have cancer.
People tell me, "Oh I know what you're going through", but I tell them, "If you have known someone that has gone through this, you don't know what they're going through." There is no way, for instance, that I could ever tell you what going through breast cancer is like and would not want to. I have found we all have our own experiences and we can relate, but I cannot know what you are going through.
I look at people now and I know what true love and friendship means. I know now what it means to read the Bible and truly understand more than just the words, for what Jesus is trying to tell us. I know that all the hate in this world is misplaced. I also know what a wonderful gift life is and we take it for granted.
With regard to elective suicide, as for the reasons I've stated here, I am against it! But it is your choice. I do believe in freedom of choice, but I highly recommend you don't do it. DON'T DO IT! Again, I do not know what you are going through and could never know, but I do know what I have gone through with weeks-upon-weeks of excruciating pain, which no painkiller could even come close to eliminating; waking up out of at least three comas; losing everything including my home, my savings, retirement and my career as a business owner and consultant.
The drugs I am on have incredible side effects, and one was a hallucinogenic. It was kind of cool but I would never do it again though I was able to write a story about trees coming to life and chasing me.
If Terry Porter had told my friend to "pull the plug", I wouldn't be here today to see my grandchild, to hold my girlfriend, Sandy's hand, to be able to talk to my daughter on the phone, and to be able to write the book I am working on and share what little wisdom I have about being an artist and striving to be the best you can be .
I have thought about elective suicide from time to time, but with this new perspective I realize such thoughts are not only egotistical and putting myself before everyone else including God, but also lazy. It takes work to stay alive and have hopes and dreams even under the most trying of circumstances.
If I have the ability to choose elective suicide then I have the whereabouts to choose not to. I don't know if what my mother did was a sin or not, but I do know one thing it was selfish and lazy.
Like I told my doctor I will know when the time comes for me to head towards that beach.
I am probably preaching to the choir here, but if there is that one person out there thinking that no one loves them, that the world would be better off without them, or for whatever other reason you can come up with, I say stop, think and listen. YOU ARE WRONG!
Bob Woolsey, 58, is an award-winning actor and director from Colorado now living in Chicago. Bob is proud of his four children and five grandchildren living in Colorado and Tennessee. He is the founder of "Women are our Future", an organization assisting and empowering women to lead. He is the owner and founder of Thunderhawk Films and is currently working on several television shows and films firstname.lastname@example.org