Saturday, January 17, 2009

What the day takes away

Sometime during the evening of January 3, 2009, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. Dahr Gary McCurry took his own life. Dahr was my first cousin, the youngest son of my mothers sister, he was 44 years old.

Our grandparents, W.G. and Lelah Crowe, known to all of us as Mom and Daddy Crowe, had 5 children and 17 grandchildren. Dahr was the 15th grandchild, the youngest child of their youngest daughter, Jeri Sue. Mom Crowe died of lung cancer in March 1974, for Dahr and his brother, her death was like losing a mother, having spent much of their childhood in her care.

My memories of Dahr in childhood are of a boy with unlimited energy and a tendency towards mischief. He was the silly, goofy kid, always clamoring for attention, somehow always being scolded. As a child my knowledge of Dahr's situation was limited. I knew that his mother and father were not together. His father, a Merchant Seaman would be gone for long periods of a time and was largely absent from Dahr's life. From a young age Dahr struggled, primarily with behavioral issues. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and took medication. Eventually, he was home schooled.

As an adult, I had very little contact with Dahr. I had moved away from the area and missed most of the family picnics, holidays and reunions. I would hear of him now and then, I knew that the struggles of his childhood did not end at adulthood. Dahr was never in trouble with the law, though he did have drug problems at one time or another. Dahr was extremely smart, he went to trade school and community college. For a time he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician, after that, a Security Guard.

In September 2000 Dahr became the father of a beautiful boy, it is remarkable how much his son looks like him. The marriage to his son's mother was brief. All of Dahr's attempts to lead the normal, productive life of an adult failed, he would struggle with disorganized thoughts and impulses which would result in lost jobs and cycles of frustration and depression. I have learned that Dahr was treated by a Psychiatrist since his teens, he was prescribed various and many medications. For most of his adult life he was on State Disability and lived with his mother, who was also on Disability. I am not completely certain of the diagnosis. What I do know is that as a result of what I perceive to be a mood disorder, Dahr had trouble maintaining relationships. For the last several years of his life, he was estranged from many of the people he cared about; uncles, aunts, cousins, and his only sibling. He had a contentious relationship with his former wife, she was angry at him for his inability to support his child, or maintain consistent and healthy contact with the little boy.

Dahr's mother has stated that he had no friends and thought everyone in the family hated him.

Of the last days of Dahr's life, we know very little. We know that he attempted to contact his child by phone and the boys mother would not let him speak to him. We know that he spent a quiet New Year's with his mother, they toasted with a drink. On the evening of his death he had a minor quarrel with his mother, she told him to calm down and at approximately 8:00 p.m. she urged him to go to bed. She got up near midnight to check on him and found him too late.

We will never know for certain if after death Dahr's spirit could hear the wails of his young son upon learning of his death. Did he hear his mothers cries, how she blamed herself and had to be hospitalized for 6 days for fear she would take her own life. Could he hear her when she said she did not know who she was without him. Did he listen to the conversations of the cousins, wondering what, if anything, we could have done differently, how could we have helped him, what have we learned? Did he hear his brothers regrets for staying away so long. Does he know that the family he thought hated him would pull together and send money from near and far to pay for his cremation and plan the memorial to celebrate his life.

On the day of her release from the hospital, his mother came home to an empty house. We received the call and came to her. As we sat in her living room, she looked straight at me and said, "Dahr would have loved to see all the company".

We have each been asked to send our memories to my two senior cousins who will give the service. I remember a tow headed boy, full of life and fun. I remember his delight when we surprised his mother a few months ago bringing dinner and a cake for her birthday. His hug so tight. His repeated "I love you" to each of us. His excitement to show us the hand gun he had so recently purchased.

No comments: