By Donna Bengert 4 January 2007
My son David was married September of 1998. He was only 20 and she was 19 with a baby on the way. The following year brought us a beautiful granddaughter. Unfortunately the stresses of life come along and things happen with consequences. My son and his wife did drugs, that is how he met her. During their marriage I do not believe they were doing drugs, if they were it was minimal. My son was finally growing up – I could see him standing up tall, goals and dreams and proud of his family.
Then one night after Father’s Day they had a fight in the early morning hours. The baby was crying, they exchanged words, my son punched his wife on the mouth for which she received a few stitches. As far as I know he had never hit her before but this one incident cost him everything.
The police took her from the hospital to the Women’s Shelter. He never got to speak to her again after that night. He never saw his child again after that night. This is was June of 1999.
He came to me at my workplace the next day and told me he just got out of jail. I said for what? He broke into tears and told me he hit her – he cried, and cried and cried. I called her mother but understandably met much hostility. His wife stayed at the Women’s Shelter for a whole week and then moved home to her mothers. She had put a restraining order on David and also on the 4-plex apartment they were living in. He could not see her and he could not go home. I spent hours talking with David her the next month and a half trying so hard to keep his hopes up.
In July she served him with custody papers and he was told the divorce papers would follow soon. He was crushed. I could see him sinking into a hole, I called her mother again and told her to tell his wife he was suicidal – the mother would not let me speak to my daughter-in-law – no contact was allowed. The mother told me to take him to the hospital. On several occasions we tried to contact her family and asked her to please let David talk to his wife and at least ask for forgiveness. He was never granted a conversation. No one had any feelings for David. David and his wife’s family doctor told him he deserves what he’s going to get.
During all this time the appointments with the lawyer, counsellors, psychiatrist were all happening. He was enrolled in Anger Management classes. It was his responsibility to show sufficient remorse which her family didn’t believe he was doing. The court days came and kept being pushed off for lack of one document or another. Finally David demanded this charge be settled and told his lawyer to finish it even it meant he went to jail. Every time we went to the courthouse he eagerly hoped for his wife to come – but she never did. The courts were not fair – they gave him a $1,000 fine, a year he could not contact or speak with his wife and a years probation. It would be their first anniversary in September, only 1½ months away.
David sunk deeper with no hope. I convinced him to go to the hospital and he was admitted into the psychiatric ward. He was there for two nights and one day. He again walked into where I worked and I asked him what he was doing out. He said the doctor said he was not suicidal – go home. (I wonder how many more signs they needed – I saw them all.) My heart sank as I once again knew the danger at hand. I told people he was suicidal – they told me he had an attitude.
We managed to get the restraining order of his apartment so we could pack it up as he did not have the rent money and was living with us. We asked the landlord to contact her and tell her to take all that she wanted out as we were going in to pack it up. She said she wanted nothing. It was very hard and emotional to go there with my son and pack up all their things. We put this all in storage in our garage.
He met with his probation officer. That day, Monday, August 16th, 1999 the officer called me to tell what a nice young man I had for a son and he was going to do just fine. David came and we went for coffee and he told me he was starting a job the next day and was joining a band – and teased me because I didn’t know he could sing. Then out of the store across the street from the coffee shop came his wife and baby in the baby carriage. I told him he could not go talk to her yet – we had to do this the legal way. His eyes filled with tears and we left the coffee shop. I watched him leave in his car and my heart sank.
That day was busy and he called me later and talked to me for awhile. I tried to lift him up but I was worried. I told him I would be home at 5 and we would talk some more. Work got very busy so I called my daughter to call and talk to her brother, which she did for quite a lengthy time.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. I stood in my store and I felt my son there. My friend asked me why I was staring into the wall, so I brushed it off. A few minutes later I called home, no answer. I left for home right before 5 and all the way home I knew. I came up to the door of the house and it was locked, first clue. I came into the house and saw a note on the door jam of the basement. I read only the first line before I raced down the stairs – “To my family, if you are reading this note it means I have taken my own life…”
In the basement was his bedroom and I could see he was not lying on his bed. For a moment I was relieved – but in the meantime I had walked a few more steps and saw his feet on the floor on the other side of the bed. I raced over to him – there he lay – a gun under him, a shot between his eyes, blood streaming away from his head. That moment cannot be described. I remember telling him he was not be laying on a cold concrete floor. 911 went through my head. I ran upstairs to the phone as the portable was not working and the operator kept me on the phone until the police came. At one point I did convince the operator to let me go back to see him to see if he was alive, but he was dead so I went back to the phone to tell her. Again she would not let me off the phone. I wish I had held him before they took him away.
The police took me down to the police station and we were not allowed home until they were finished in the house. We went home about 10 p.m. and family members went downstairs and cleaned up the blood. I went down and saw the corner of his bedspread full of blood and we put that in a garbage bag and threw it away. My husband had an antique rifle he had for years, never used and never had bullets for it. Didn’t even know it worked – it was hidden in the basement up in the rafters. David found it and got bullets and used it – it worked just fine. The police called and asked us if we wanted the rifle back – we said no.
No one can describe a loss of a son. I slowly watched him die, I stood by helpless – no one would listen – no one would help. No one believed. It was summer time and everyone was on holidays – help was very scarce and hard to find and always postponed. We tried to help him, we loved him, we miss him.
Donna Bengert, Mother