Advisory: This post contains traumatic and triggering content about suicide.
Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018
I am in Indiana – I arrived Monday evening after spending the day seeing the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. I headed over the Indiana line to spend some time with a relative.
My relative and I planned to spend the day touring some of the rural Indiana sites, including some of the picturesque covered bridges. We went to a small community park that has a bridge that has been moved there. Our first bridge of the day.
The morning was still young, and there had been a big thunder and lightning storm the night before; it was still fairly dark at 9 am. We took a photo of the outside of the bridge and then walked inside to check it out.
I just want to say I am surprised that I remember the thoughts that came into my head next with such vivid detail.
After a moment checking out the near end of the bridge, I turned to look down the length of the bridge and saw a man standing there in the dark. I knew immediately that something was very wrong, but my brain couldn’t process what it was. My next thoughts…
“Holy shit, he was so quiet and still.”
“He is going to hurt us.”
(seeing that there was something spread out at his feet) “Oh, he must be an artist and is painting the bridge.”
“That is absurd. No one would paint the dark inside of a covered bridge.”
“He is standing at a really funny angle. You can’t stand still like that.”
“OMG -he’s hanging! He’s hanging!”
All these thoughts went through my head in probably less than 15 seconds. My relative and I quickly went back outside and called 911. Fortunately the Sheriff was close by and arrived quickly; he confirmed that there was nothing that we could have done for this poor man, had we gotten closer.
We were able to salvage the day with tourist activities, but this man and his family have been on my mind for the last few days. I see it in my mind when I turn out the light out at night. It was deeply traumatic for me; I imagine I will see that image in my mind for the rest of my life. I also know that is nothing compared to his pain and the pain his family is now in. I will probably never even know his name, but I hope that his family finds peace.
Update: Vermillion County, Indiana is a small place, and Marilyn sent me the young man’s obituary a few days later. I realized then how clearly I had seen his face, in those brief seconds in the dark. I pray for peace for him and his family, as I am sure they are still struggling with this a year later.