On Sunday morning, February 21, 2015, I received very sad news. My friend Scott Moen had committed suicide late afternoon the day before. He was 51. I immediately felt great sadness, my heart instantly felt shattered and broken. I couldn’t believe it. I saw Scott the previous Saturday. We talked for a while, I knew he was dealing with some things that were difficult for him. I shared stories with him of similar things I dealt with or am currently dealing with and I told him what I did or am doing to deal with similar issues. He knows about my health issues and other parts of my life. Some of the things I have shared with Scott on a few occasions are that some days are difficult, that there are days I don’t feel like being here, but I need to be. I have to reach out to others and hang on through those days because it gets better, issues get resolved. There are great things in store for us and we give strength to others when they see us walk through difficult times. It lets others have a chance to help us, even though it’s difficult to say I need help or someone to talk too. I believe that God gives me a lot of leeway in life and the decisions and choices I make. I think taking my own life before God is ready for me and whatever circumstances happen, whether I die naturally or by accident, one thing that God would not be happy with is me taking my own life. During difficult times now, mostly physically, that is what keeps me going.
The last time I saw Scott the week before his death, and also several other times when we talked, I shared my feelings with him that I have to keep going because if I don’t then it or they win and I don’t want that to happen. For example, my tumors and health issues. It would be so easy to just sit and say poor me, I have tumors that are going to end my life earlier than a normal life span, however, I don’t live that way. I try to make the most out of every day, take trips and do whatever I want or am able to do because I don’t want it to win easily. It will eventually, but I will give it a fight. Also, when I was working and had someone trying to get me fired or demoted so she could have my job, or I had a mean and difficult boss and often thought of looking for a new job I didn’t. I did my best every day, I walked with dignity and kept a good attitude and would not quit because I did not want them to win. I shared these examples with Scott, I told Scott to call me anytime if he wanted to talk. I think it’s harder for men to say they need help than it is for women.
Scott mentioned that he wasn’t eating because he was upset and he lost a lot of weight. It’s not a secret and I don’t think he would mind me sharing what I’m writing in this post. Perhaps it will help someone and perhaps save a life. Years ago when I had trouble eating, my friend Lois who died many years ago used to ask me what would happen to my car if I didn’t change the oil, check the tires, put gas in the car, etc. I said that it would break down and not work. I know when I don’t eat or eat well my thinking is not always rational, I get out of sync, I sometimes get depressed, etc. I asked Scott what he thinks would happen if he didn’t put gas in his car, etc. He said the same thing, that it would break down. I said that’s what is happening to his body. If you want to read stories I have written about Lois and the wisdom and stories she shared with me that changed my life, use the search feature on my website and look for the word Lois, or you can search inspirational poems and stories. These posts with Lois stories and inspirational poems have helped me many times over the years and they still do.
When I left Scott that morning, the week before his death, we hugged and said we were glad to see each other. I saw his eyes get teary so I know what we shared in our conversation was heartfelt. He was at work so it wasn’t very easy to talk because people were waiting for him. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would see him or speak with him. I had no idea that he was in such a state of mind that he would take his own life. When I received word that he shot and killed himself it was such a shock. I was in a state of disbelief for over a week. I have only known Scott since June of 2013, I can only imagine the pain and depth of loss felt by his family, coworkers, and friends who have known him and daily contact with him for years. I have lost people I loved dearly for many years so I can imagine the pain and loss they feel.
On Thursday and Friday nights the week after I saw Scott on Saturday morning, and the days before he took his life, I thought about him about 10 p.m. and I thought he might be working and would be busy so I didn’t call him. He was in my thoughts strongly. I found out after his passing that he had not worked nights in quite a while. I can’t think I should have called him, maybe it would have made a difference. It would not be good for me to do that and it might not have made a difference. If I was supposed to have done it, it would have happened. God would have given me a stronger nudge to make the call. Hopefully next time I get this strong feeling I will take action and make the call, and not hesitate. I can learn a lesson from things I didn’t do just as much as from what I did do. When talking with someone close to Scott I found out that he had talked with a friend about 4 p.m. Whatever was discussed didn’t prevent what he decided to do. When Robin Williams ended his life it really hurt my spirit too. Not as bad as Scott’s loss of life, because I knew Scott and not Robin. Years ago I felt the desperation and emotional pain I think both of them might have felt. I used to think if I had courage I would have killed myself. Then I realized it takes courage not to take one’s own life, it takes more courage to tough it out and work through whatever problems are causing the despair and these feelings of lost hope and not seeing any other options. If you think about someone give them a call. Do not send an email or text. Take the action and make the phone call. We never know what might happen or what the result will be. I have several friends that we think about each other and it just happens that when we call the other says I was thinking about you. I’m sure several of you have that same connection with a friend.
It’s taking a while but my heart doesn’t feel as shattered and broken as it did for the first few weeks after his death and funeral. I know time heals wounds and our hearts. It leaves the pleasant memories. I like to think of Scott and remember his kind heart and spirit, his smile and the happiness in his eyes when we talked about things near and dear to him. If you have been reading my posts for the past few years you may have read about Scott. He was the manager of JBs on the Beach in Deerfield Beach. I first met Scott in June 2013 when I was looking for a place to have lunch with the firefighters that were coming from Georgia to meet me. When I went to JBs restaurant to inquire about a luncheon, Scott was the person that talked with me. During our conversation he told me that many years ago he was a firefighter. I could tell when he was telling me about it that it was still close to his heart. He said he admired what I was doing to help fire departments get the much needed equipment and by the end of our conversation he offered to host our luncheon and he wouldn’t let me pay for the meal. I wrote about this special day with the firefighters in July 2013. It was a very special day. A few weeks later a fire chief from another Georgia fire department came to get a piece of equipment in south Florida and once again Scott hosted our lunch.
I have many stories about my friend Scott Moen. Scott was off on the day the Georgia firefighters came for the luncheon, however, he made sure that we had excellent wait staff serving us that day. A few days later, I brought a plate of brownies to Scott and also the signed fire helmet, picture, and specially made t-shirts the firefighters gave me. Scott’s eyes lit up when he saw the items, or a story written about my donations. I knew he was happy to see them. Whenever I got something from a fire department, always unexpectedly, I would take it and show Scott. He shared in the joy because it was fire department related. When another fire chief came a few weeks later Scott was working that day and he joined us for a short time. It was nice that he made time in his busy day to sit and talk with us.
In the fall of 2013, Scott told me that they were going to remodel the restaurant and in the process change out the flooring and also install hurricane proof sliding windows on the porch side of the restaurant, and he also explained the other changes they were making both cosmetically and in the kitchen area. He even showed me samples of the flooring and a few other items. I could tell the pride he had for the positive changes and his excitement of what the restaurant would look like when it was completed. I admired his knowledge and the dedication he had for getting this project completed before the upcoming holidays. I was impressed with the work schedule of how the project would be completed working around restaurant hours so that the restaurant would be open for business and how the construction was scheduled to have the minimum impact. His love for the restaurant and his pride in it was evident. If memory serves correctly, I think construction was done on Thanksgiving day and Scott and staff fed them since the workers gave up their Thanksgiving with their family. After the remodeling was complete and the holiday decorations were complete, I went and took lots of pictures. I loved the holiday decorations, the elves were the cutest I have ever seen. I wrote a story and posted a photo album, there is a link to the album in the story. I loved the 3D artwork of the fish and Scott explained how it was custom made for that spot. You can see the picture and read more in my post.
Scott had a sweet tooth and he loved the brownies and cookies I baked, so every now and then I would bake some and bring plates of them for Scott and his staff. One day about a year ago, Scott and I were emailing and for some reason that day I had an urge for mini beef wellingtons. I had gone to several stores looking for some to buy ready made and couldn’t find any. As Scott and I were sending messages back and forth, I asked if they had beef wellington on the menu. He said no and asked why. I told him that I wanted some and I couldn’t find them in the stores. He said no problem, he would have Chef Mike make some for me. I said it wasn’t necessary, I didn’t really need them. Scott insisted and said no problem. I could come by in a day or two and they would be ready for me. I said thank you. A day or two later I went to the restaurant and Chef Mike gave me a large plate with about two dozen mini beef wellingtons on it. What a wonderful treat, it was made special for me. I ate a few that night, and the next night and then I froze the rest so I could eat them gradually. As thanks, I made lots of brownies for Scott, Chef Mike, and the staff. Here is the story I wrote about JBs and the day I got my special treat of beef wellington. It’s also when JBs decorated the restaurant for the holidays. I loved the decorations.
If you have been reading my stories for a while you know I was not expected to live until this past December 2014. I’m still here… surprise. So, when I had my birthday in September 2013 I decided to have a little get together lunch with my mom, sister, and a few really close friends. I thought it might be my last birthday. So, a few days before I went and met with Scott to arrange the luncheon. I gave him my credit card number so the lunch could automatically be put on the credit card. He said okay and wrote down my credit card number. The day of the luncheon we were escorted to the small room on the patio overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had the whole room to ourselves. Scott was working that day and he stopped by to visit periodically. I told the waitress that I gave Scott my credit card info and to charge the entire lunch and tip to my credit card. Several days later, I didn’t see a charge for JBs on my credit card and I called Scott to let him know. He said Happy Birthday it’s been taken care of. I had no idea he would surprise me like that. I am not telling you this because I want you to think I like Scott because he paid for my meals periodically. I am sharing this because I want you to know Scott as the special, kind, generous man he was. Not just with money, but in so many ways. He was always kind to me, and to my mother when I brought her. He would stop by our table and visit with us when he could even though he was so very busy. My mother would tell me that when she ate there with friends he would always stop and say hello to her too. Chef Emeril Lagasse did a television episode at JBs on the Beach, it’s written about in my birthday story. I know that Scott and Chef Mike were very honored. Mike told me about the special menu he prepared.
For several years JBs on the Beach has provided the survivor dinner for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event for Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point/Hillsboro Beach. They send staff who provides and cooks a delicious dinner at Quiet Waters Park for the survivors and the caregivers. I always try to support and patronize businesses that support our Relay. I know from conversations with Scott, and people in the community, that Scott supports many charitable organizations in the community. I know we are all very grateful not only for the support, but for the friendship that is created when anyone meets Scott.
In January 2015, my friend Patt from Seattle came to visit and we went to JBs on the Beach for lunch. In my January story I wrote a little about our lunch. Even though there was a wait for a table outside on the porch, Scott had a table for us shortly after we arrived. That was very unexpected. Lunch as always was wonderful. Scott stopped by to chat a few times even though he was very busy. Chef Mike and also Dee one of the managers would always come over and give me a hug and say hello when they saw me. My friend Patt is a professional speaker and she travels all over the country making speeches and presentations. She always uses a rubber chicken in her presentations and they bring humor and entertainment, as well as messages, to her presentation. She always takes rubber chickens with her, and also gives them to people taking trips so that they can take photos of the chicken in different settings with different outfits. My visit with Patt was no different.
In my January story about eating at JBs on the Beach and the story of my visit with Patt I didn’t include the part about the rubber chicken, so I will include it here since it also involves Scott and his graciousness. Of course Patt had her rubber chicken with her and it was dressed in a kimono. She asked if I thought Scott would take a picture of him and the chicken and I said I didn’t know but we could ask, so when he stopped at our table again we asked and he said sure. Patt took a picture of Scott, me, and the chicken. I was not smiling, the sun was in my eyes and I didn’t like the way the picture looked. I told her she would use the caption: Carol is not happy, the chicken might be a menu item.
Before we left we saw Scott and as we said goodbye asked if we could take another picture with him, me, and the chicken because the other photo looked bad. I know he was busy but he made time to take the pictures. We decided to take the photo near the JBs surfboard. I am so glad we took the pictures, I had no idea it would be the last pictures taken of Scott and me. When Patt and I asked for the bill so we could pay for our lunch we were told it was already paid for. Scott took care of our lunch tab. It was very unexpected. The following week, I stopped by the restaurant and brought several plates of brownies for Scott and the staff, and Scott and I had once again a heartfelt talk about things we were both going through. He shared more with me about what was happening in his life. It did not even occur to me that he would think about taking his life over these things. He had also shared during this visit that he lost weight and was not eating or sleeping. Scott’s heart and spirit was as large if not larger than he was. I hope he knows how much we all loved him and how sad and heartbroken we are at the loss of his life. Our hearts will heal but they will never be the same. When I looked at the pictures of Scott and me from December 2013 and January 2015, I noticed I was wearing the same shirt, is that a coincidence… I guess it could be.
During my visit with Scott, the week after Patt’s visit, I brought brownies, and a copy of the Lighthouse Magazine, to give Scott. Last summer they wrote a nice story about me and my travels and I didn’t remember bringing a copy to Scott. He looked briefly at the story and pictures and said he really liked it and he told me he would read it shortly after I left. Scott was always so happy and proud when I would stop by and show him things I got, or stories written about me. I think it brightened his day. I saw Scott three times in the six weeks prior to his death. None of those times did I ever suspect they would be the last, or that he was thinking about taking his life.
So, when I got the message on Sunday morning, February 22nd, that Scott ended his life the day before, to say I was in shock was an understatement. Like I wrote above, I immediately felt my heart shatter and break, then sadness for the loss of life of a special person who was so caring, generous, admired, respected, and loved. I hope Scott knew how much so many people loved and cared about him and how we are mourning the loss of his life. How sad and devastated we all are and the big hole of loss we are feeling. I spoke with Chef Mike and Dee one of the managers I know from my contact with them at the restaurant and through Scott. I can feel the depth of their loss and broken hearts from talking with them. They and the staff worked with Scott daily for many, many, years on a daily basis. He gave them direction and guidance and so much more every day for such a long time. They had a great teacher and leader and I bet they will continue to carry on the way that Scott taught them. Mike told me that if anyone knew Scott he was their friend. I know I felt that way from the first time I met him and our friendship grew with time.
A day or two after the news of his death, I sent Mike and Dee the pictures I had taken of Scott and them at the restaurant in December 2013, and also of Scott and me taken in January 2015 when Patt was here so they could have the pictures for their memory. I was totally surprised at the funeral service on Friday, February 27th, when I saw the memorial photos in front of the church on a table. In one of the posters on the top left, 2nd photo in is a picture I took of Dee and Scott, and on the bottom right is a picture of Scott and me taken with the rubber chicken. It really touched my heart that they used those pictures when making the poster, I had no idea they would be used when I shared them.
Both Mike and Dee, along with everyone else in attendance, at the memorial service were totally devastated. Despite their grief, Mike and Dee greeted me and Dee told me how much it meant to Scott when I would stop by and visit him. It really touched my heart deeply that in her unbearable grief she thought to let me know what my visits meant to Scott.
I think almost everyone has days where life and it’s challenges seem so heavy and too much to bear. It’s easy to lose hope and not see the sunshine through the clouds and darkness. I like the Dr. Seuss book, Oh The Places You’ll Go… it is a great book about life and all it contains. In part, it says “unslumping yourself is not easily done” I know that for a fact. I have given this book to many people. When in a slump, or life seems overwhelming, I like to read this book out loud in a funny voice, it always seems to help.
Please, if you or someone you know is going through a tough time, reach out, be aware of their mental state if you can. Talk with them, be there in whatever way you can, call often, do whatever you feel is best so that person knows they are cared about and try to let them know there is help, to keep the faith and hope. The black hole is probably not as deep and dark as they perceive. I have been in that place many times over the years. It’s not a fun place to be. Not having hope feels awful and it’s easy to understand someone in that spot wanting to end the emotional pain. Please reach out. Let them know how much they will be missed and the pain it will cause those of us left behind to deal with the grief of the loss of their life. I know years ago when I was in the despair and felt no way out and had no hope of life being better, that I never thought about those still alive that loved me and how they would feel about my death if I took my life. I hope I don’t lose any more friends because of suicide, it’s so painful to deal with and very selfish of those taking their life. Even though I understand what the person was feeling in that moment, it still hurts. I hope Scott’s spirit is at peace.
I am missing going to see him and share new things with him. Recently I received two proclamations that I wrote about in my previous story. I know Scott would have loved to see them and been so proud of me receiving them. I feel the loss even more when I can’t share things with him like I’ve done in the past.
I saw this poster recently and I really identified with it. In case you can’t see it very well. There is a cowboy and horse dangling over the cliff only held up by a rope. There are people and animals on the top of the cliff trying to get them pulled up to safety. The caption says “Hang in there Ol Buddy.” Here is another saying that has helped me over the years. The poster I saw was not a kitten, it was a rope with a knot, then after the knot the rope was really frayed and a mouse was hanging on by holding one strand of the frayed rope. I have felt like that mouse many times. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem or situation.
I have learned over the years that sometimes what I think is the worst thing often turns out to be the best thing and visa versa. Paintings, photographs, nature, everything has color. All colors, bright and shiny, dark and dull, are needed to make up whatever we are looking at.
I wrote a story in October 2013 entitled: Seriously, Really, You would rather be an Ostrich. I feel it’s an important story for everyone to read. It’s about the importance of having legal and medical documents prepared because we never know when something unexpected will happen. Scott’s suicide is an example of this. Please read this story, get your legal documents prepared. It will save some heartache and decisions for loved ones left to take care of your affairs. It doesn’t matter what age you are. Life happens.
Any type of death leaves a hole in our hearts and life. I think when someone commits suicide it leaves a different type of pain. We wonder if we could have said something or done something different. Life is precious. This poem has helped me many times I hope it does the same for you.
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hole
Words from the old Carole King song “Tapestry”
In fact our lives are “tapestries,” and the death of a loved one is a ripping, gaping, bleeding hole in the very midst of the tapestry of our life. How, then, is the tapestry rewoven? It does not, with the mere passage of time, magically pull itself back together. Rather, it is rewoven only with the initiative, energy, and strength of the survivor reaching in and grasping the torn ends of threads, painfully pulling back and tying them together. And it is rewoven only with those persons around the survivor cutting threads from their own tapestries and bringing them to the survivor, with love and support and caring and tears and strength, helping to further tie the threads and fill in that gaping hole.
So, eventually, the tapestry is rewoven. But that “glitch” is always there, the roughness of that reweaving is, and always will be, apparent. In fact it may be twenty years from now, as the survivor reviews the tapestry of his or her life, or is in a particular setting, or hears a song on the radio, or remembers a special day of the month, that the rewoven seam is seen and felt again, and the survivor remembers and cries, or feels sad, or is touched by the love and caring expressed by those whose threads are apparent there – and that is perfectly normal. We do not recover from a death, but, when we allow others to help, we can reweave our tapestry, which may include continuing to grieve from time to time in varying degrees of intensity for the rest of our lives.
Many people want to know how to identify “abnormal” grieving. Obviously bizarre behavior that is out of character for the survivor is relatively easy to recognize. But less blatantly, if it seems clear that the emotional intensity of the survivor is consistently getting in the way of regular patterns of functioning (shopping, eating, work, health), then additional support in the form of counseling or medication could well be in order.
In any case, understanding the framework of grieving is useful both to survivors and their support system. It is only as these two work together that resolution and healing may occur.