Posted in Almost Dorothy


Suicide Bird | Photo by Neil de la Flor

Yesterday, just as I finish my post on Ma’s rough night working the suicide prevention hotline at the Switchboard, a tiny grey bird commits suicide against us. In the middle of winter in Florida, she slams into the house just outside our dining room window. At full speed and full of life until the end, she flies as if she were taken by the sky or love and blinded by the promise of heaven.

Like a freaking bullet, ma says. Then she finds the light. At least she tried, I say. Tries to find her path to heaven.It is such a beautiful day. We are listening to Stevie Nicks sing “Rhiannon” on YouTube.

Now she is the darkness, ma says. And she ruled her life like a fine skylark, I say. Now the sky is starless. The sky is insanely blue and the clouds are hiding.

Ma and I pick up Rhiannon–the cats lying in wait in the dark– and we prepare her final resting place beneath the palm trees in the backyard. The ants have already found her. We clean her off. Tuck her wings in. Close her eyes.

Interned | Photo by Neil de la Flor

Finally, ma says, I’ve seen a woman truly taken by the wind.

Ma kicks the shovel into the earth with her right foot. Then the left. Then turns the soil until there’s a six inch hole. The shovel is blue. Rhiannon is gray. The soil too.

Today, we will be her lover, ma says, and we will stay by her side forever. I believe ma, but I don’t believe in forever.

Ma lowers Rhiannon into the shallow grave and then covers Rhiannon’s body with soil. What were you thinking, ma asks Rhiannon. Love’s just a state of mind. Rhiannon doesn’t respond to ma from the depths of her final resting place. She can’t, anyway, even if she wants to. She just lays there beneath six-inches of earth. In peace. In solitude. And probably believes that she has finally won.

Final Rest | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Posted in Almost Dorothy

Answering the Call

Sometimes when it’s really quiet in the house, I think ma is dead or locked out in the backyard. This morning when I wake up I find ma on the floor with a chocolate chip cookie in her panties. I swear, I’m not lying. Not even a little.

I check her pulse and she has a pulse, so I just left her there pulsing on the floor and I give her a pillow. I think ma had a rough night at the call center. A rough night saving lives for nothing cause she makes nothing because ma is a philanthropist. When she wakes up, she eats the chocolate chip cookie. Then she hands me this from the Switchboard:

“Every 43 seconds someone in the U.S. attempts suicide; Every 17 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. For every single completed suicide there are at least 25 attempts. More people die by suicide in Florida than by homicide. Florida has the 2nd highest rate of suicide in the nation.”

It only takes ma two-days to learn how to save lives, to minimize attempts, to keep people pulsing when they just want to quit. I saved 3 lives last night, ma says. But most of the night the phones were dead.

Ma’s cell phone is dead because she forgot to charge the battery. It’s not a sign. It’s nothing to worry about. We all die, ma says. Some of us just need a cookie till it’s time.

I’m not concerned about ma. Her new job makes her serious. Makes her consider the world as it is and not as she would like it to be. For lunch, ma makes chicken pot pie without the chicken and extra pot. She pours herself a glass of sake. She likes sake. Likes the way it tastes like burning rotten water.

We gotta move out of Florida, ma says. I nod in disarrangement.

We will never leave Florida. Never leave her to fend for herself. Florida needs us just like we need Florida. Swamp-like in summer. Heaven in winter. And just blah in between. In the end, ma says. It’s better not to go. Between you and me, it’s better to stay. Better to sleep on the floor. Just in case someone calls.

LivingWorks logoIf you would like to join Switchboard Miami two-day “suicide first aid” workshop for communities created by LivingWorks,contact Demian Laudisio, Switchboard of Miami, Inc. 305-358-1640 x 156. When: Tuesday January 10, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. For more information, click save a life.