Q: What a wonderful service. It seems that your relationship with Jerome was a lot like mine with Manuel. It also seems that they had similar "problems". Manuel's suicide was a result of what I would call situational anxiety and his moodiness, as he called it, began only a few weeks earlier although he obviously had thought of suicide for a long time as an option for him and he too had his planned and even long before it actually went into effect. It is so hard for everyone to understand because Manuel was happy except for perhaps the last few weeks of his life. It is just that he never did develop the coping skills necessary to deal with certain situations and he suffered for low self esteem because of his beginnings in life. So, when circumstances combined, suicide was the acceptable option for Manuel. Thanks for our post. When I have more time I will share more of my story with you. I have already shared it with many of the others here and am feeling a little drained today. I have read and even saved most of your posts to the NG. You have a fine way of expressing yourself
A: Sometimes when I sit here and read the posts from so many people, I get so emotional and I feel grief because of the love that is expressed with so many people. WE are all here for a reason and I suppose we all come together for a reason as well, to comfort and help one another. This particular story broke my heart(most do when it comes to a tragic end) and also made me sit and think about David and the things we have done together. Memories might be all we have to share with each other but that remains forever. No one can take that from us. We held Jerome's funeral in an old deconsecrated wooden Gothic church with about 450 or 500 friends. At his request he was carried in to Ravel's "Bolero". I started off by putting a big Arum lily on the long shiny black coffin and then thanked people for coming, and for looking after me so well, and mentioned the people who were unable to be there. I invited people back home afterwards, and I read his suicide note. Then I said this: So what had happened? What I've got to assimilate is that it will be impossible ever to know completely. But we do know a part. Starting a month ago, on 28 August, he had problems at work, and it looked as if his employer was going prevent him doing the work he saw as most valuable--work which kept people out of hospital. And he got very depressed about that. All the people who care for Jerome recognised that he was depressed. We told him that he could probably get some sort of reversal of the decision he disapproved of. But he had no stomach for that sort of political fight. We told him that he could turn his back on the job, and he would be better off financially. But he didn't want to betray his patients. We were worried and took extra care for him, but even people highly experienced at seeing the danger signals for suicide had no idea how deeply depressed he was. It is my belief that he got so depressed that part of him stopped being rational. His commitment to his patients was so strong that he lost sight of other considerations, including even his life. In a certain sense he went crazy: work remained in focus, but everything else became a blur. Of course his habits were so orderly and rational that he managed to keep doing most things in a thoroughly ordered and rational way. But he decided to kill himself. Looking back it seems that he made the decision about a week before he did it. Jerome was one of the most stubborn men you've ever met. I found that if I wanted to change his mind about anything, I had to approach it with great patience. Whenever Jerome had a plan he was absolutely tenacious about pursuing it. He was the most stubborn bastard you've ever met. He knew he had to hide his intention to kill himself. He was a highly experienced volunteer counsellor, and he has talked a great many people through serious suicidal thoughts. So he knew all the tell-tale signs, and he knew how to avoid giving those signs. Nobody had the slightest indication that he would do this. On Saturday he went up to my Mum's place at Te Horo Beach, which he loved so much. Looking back, the only unusual thing is that he didn't encourage me to come up there with him. I had work to do in town, which normally he would gently have tried to talk me out of. But he didn't want me there. He wanted room to carry out his plan. At Te Horo he was quieter that usual, but seemed to enjoy lying in the sun, and reading a couple of articles in some old New York Reviews. And at about five on Sunday afternoon he left, as if to go home. And he must have driven up the Otaki Gorge, found a quiet spot and gassed himself with the exhaust fumes from the car. When he didn't come home I slowly got more and more worried, and contacted the police, but it wasn't until the middle of Monday afternoon that he was found. .... One thing I find difficult to understand is how something like a work problem could lead to this. Part of the answer lies in Jerome being in some ways too happy. He had an amazing gift of friendship, and an amazing gift of fun. He enjoyed pleasure shamelessly, and he enjoyed giving pleasure. He worked hard at it-he worked hard at friendship, and fun and pleasure. He was the most generous person I've ever met--but there was no sense of sacrifice in his generosity. He did it because he got pleasure out of doing it. We were very different people, but we were a great team. Jerome would get pissed off with me sometimes. He'd get pissed off with me going to too many meetings, or not taking enough care of my mother, or setting the central heating at too high a temperature. But those were things which we could work out. We were incredibly happy together. We were completely different, with completely different kinds of interests. We did share a few core values, but we disagreed about almost everything. And we enjoyed that immensely. We enjoyed our differences. ..... I think part of the problem was that Jerome just was not very good at being sad. He didn't really know how to deal with it when things got bad. He had been sad at the end of the 1970s in Holland before he came out here. And his way of dealing with sadness at that time was, in fact, by coming out to New Zealand. And that was really his only experience of dealing with a real down in his life. When things went bad this time round, there was no antipodes he could escape to. And so at a certain level he went mad. He made an irrational decision, and executed it in a highly planned way. The real Jerome could not have done this. He could not have hurt us in this way. He was out of his mind. ..... It is impossible to express my love for this man. [You were] my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong. So I'm left with memories. I don't think that this is something either of us ever intended to tell our mothers... but then, we didn't intend this gathering at all. I remember perfectly the moment Jerome and I met. It was on 21 May 1983. It was in the spa pool at the old Wakefield Sauna. And that began something wonderful. So ... memories. I remember the Gay Switchboard weekends at Strathaen, and the famous drag party I remember sitting around the bonfire at Te Horo long into the night, with friends from all over the world. I remember being with him and Stuart on an open little boat on the Mee Kong, in the dawn, at that point where Thailand and Laos and Burma meet--the light mist lifting gently as the sun rose over the river. I remember dancing--dancing all night long I remember sleeping outside with him in Auckland University grounds after a wild New Year's Eve at the Staircase I remember playing with our pet possum, Freddie, on the balcony at Curtis Street I remember the drunken party at Curtis Street, with seventy wind-up tin toys all going at once on the kitchen floor. I remember the great custard pie fight on Mount Victoria. It got boring throwing pies at the opponent teams, so we went after the judges. I remember tripping on magic mushrooms on Koh Samui, off the coast of southern Thailand, and then later walking in the shallow water on the moonlit beach, hand in hand, with the phosphorescence sparkling round our feet. I remember him piloting me in a glider over the Tararuas. I remember the Charles Bridge in Prague with Stuart and friends from Holland in that crazy Northern summer of 1990, with the chaos of music and entertainment and crowds around us ... and then the trans-Siberian railway journey, and China, and the vitality of the Bund on the riverbank of Shanghai ... and then being stranded in a little ship off the coast of China in a typhoon. I remember a pub-crawl--a pub-crawl through the disreputable quarter of Gronigen I remember the kiss he gave me in the gallery of Parliament when the vote was announced on homosexual law reform I remember countless dinner-parties with dear, dear friends, ... I remember being on our deck, sitting wordlessly for hours together on a still summer's night, watching the city lights and listening to the sounds. ..... Jerome was not a political person, but he'll forgive me a political reference. One of the leaders of the Russian Revolution was a man called Adolf Yoffe. On 16 November 1927 he killed himself in protest against the rise of Stalinism. He left a letter to his friend Leon Trotsky explaining that he saw this as the only way he could protest. There was a big funeral. At it Trotsky gave his last public address in Russia. The theme of his speech was this: Live like Adolf Yoffe lived-don't die like he died. I can't add much to that for Jerome. Live like Jerome lived, don't die like he died. ---- So then Jerome's sister, Marijke, spoke, and then various friends and colleagues and patients and representatives of the voluntary organisations in which Jerome worked. Music was played--Gloria Gaynor singing "I am what I am" and Elton John with "Funeral For a Friend"--and while it was playing everyone came forward to put a flower on the coffin. People then stood for a conclusion in which I said this: Jerome If we can learn from your experience if we can profit from your example if we can live a little better for having known you Then this will give continuing purpose to your life and be a living memorial to you Jerome I love you I will try to accept what you have done Jerome Your life we honour your departure we accept your memory we cherish In grief at your death but in gratitude for your life and for the privilege of sharing it with you we commit your body to be cremated. Earth to earth ashes to ashes dust to dust Rest now at the end of your days your work is done rest in the hearts and the minds of all you love. May we find comfort and richness and example in our memories, may we find support and strength in our love for one another, and may we find peace in our hearts. The coffin was then led out to the hearse by a friend playing the bagpipes.
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