Hmmm.
My Name Node only has a Webster in it.

A broken Webster at that.

How depressing.

I am a 26 year old male, 6'1", 180 pound computer geek with brownish hair and blue eyes. Quiet, introspective. Boring.

I am not at all happy.

It can also refer to something inscrutable by design, as a reference to the way Hermetic philosophers made their books difficult to comprehend.

Bad code is frequently hermetic.

The other day I was having a conversation with someone and it became unbelievably clear to me that no one here has had any form of closure following Adam's death. Even more of a wake up call was czeano's speech in North Carolina about Adam and the Martini of Death. So I want to share the following with you.

Here's everything I know about September 10, 2001.

Adam sent the message to panamaus, who in turn dialed 911. He is still my personal hero for doing so. I know that Adam sent him that message because he knew David would do the right thing. I think Adam was afraid of dying alone.

The detective told me that they arrived at the house and sent a plain-clothed officer around to the back of the house to assess the situation. They knew he was armed. The computer was in the basement in the townhouse. The officer witnessed Adam sitting at the computer; he radioed the dispatcher to call the house. The dispatcher called the house, spoke with Adam and encouraged him to come out of the house; they could help him. The officer reported that he went out of view. Within a few minutes they heard a gunshot.

The police radioed into dispatch requesting permission to enter the house. They had to wait 10 minutes for the sheriff to arrive. They then entered the house in full riot gear, as they did not know whether or not Adam had been alone in the house. They turned all the beds upside down, tossed the closets, and knocked over furniture. Adam's body was found in the laundry room in the basement. The only uncarpeted room in the house. He had cleared a space and put down several blankets. He had been wearing a black t-shirt and shorts. He had used a Beretta rifle, relatively low caliber, with a heavier gauge dove shot.

I learned after the fact that there was someone outside during all of this, someone who knew about Adam's message to David. For her, I will always have the deepest respect for going there, calling him endlessly, trying to talk to him, and according to the detective, begging to go in to talk to Adam.

I was at work, and had just returned from running. I sent Adam an IM. The police were there in the house when I sent it asking him about his decision. We had been discussing our current living arrangements and the possibility of trying to make things work. I inadvertently got the worst answer. The only reply I got was a cell phone number and the urging to call ASAP. My first thought was, "Huh, I guess he switched his phone to his own account." So I filled up my cup of water and called.

When the detective answered the phone, my stomach tightened. I said, "Yea, Hi, I'm trying to reach Adam Purcell."

The detective asked me who I was, I told him, "Jennifer Purcell."

He asked, "Are you the wife of Adam Purcell?"

I said, "Yes."

At that exact moment, I knew he had done it. I blurted out to the detective, "OH GOD, PLEASE TELL ME HE DIDN'T KILL HIMSELF."

There was nothing but silence on the other end. The detective audibly took in a deep breath and said, "Ma'am, I hate to tell you this over the phone, but yes, he has died. I'll need to..."

I stopped hearing everything because I was crying. I cried and sobbed and then cried some more, all the time though, the anger was building in me. The officer said, "Where are you right now, ma'am?"

I told him, "I'm in my office, at work."

"Where do you work?" he asked.

"I work at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda," I replied.

He continued, "Have you been there all morning?"

I said, "Yes."

"When was the last time that you saw Adam?" He asked.

I realized that I was a suspect. I had a momentary flash of confusion. I could not understand why they would suspect me of doing something to him. Regardless of any problems that Adam and I had ever had, I never stopped loving him.

I started to cry harder, and the detective apologized for having to ask these questions, that he had no doubt that it was a suicide, but that he had to ask as a formality. He asked if he could call me back in about 20 minutes, hoping that I would be able to talk then. I gave him my phone numbers and hung up the phone. I then picked up the phone and threw it.

Blind rage, anger, and unimaginable pain took over. I was in the middle of my office flipping out. Picking up things, throwing them and screaming a stream of profanity. I shared an office with a guy named Ernie, an older Filipino guy who I absolutely adored. He had been on the phone while I was crying. He hung up and asked me what was wrong.

I screamed at him, "He fucking did it. He fucking killed himself. I can't fucking believe he actually did it. What the hell am I going to tell Elizabeth? How will Dylan ever understand it? I can't fucking believe he'd do this to them."

I sat down and sobbed. He went to go get someone who could help me to deal with it. He went and got my friend Dawn. Others who had heard me yelling came in to see what was wrong. I looked straight through them, like they weren't even there. They looked afraid of me; screaming and throwing things was not my normal office behavior. I couldn't talk to them, I could even imagine telling them what had happened. I figured that if they couldn't figure it out, someone would tell them, sooner or later. Sailors love to gossip.

Dawn came in and held me while I cried for what seemed like forever. The next thing I knew, I looked up and my boss was there, along with the Commanding Officer and the Executive Officer, who wanted all to know if I was OK. They asked if I wanted to talk to the chaplain. I said, "NO." They sent for the command's chaplain anyway. Our chaplain was actually a rabbi. When he arrived, Dawn asked me if I wanted him there, and then she sent him away so that I didn't have to.

The detective called back. Dawn talked to him for a few minutes, and then I talked to him for a few minutes. I answered his questions and asked several of my own. I then hung up and sat there. Numb.

We left the office and drove north to the townhouse. The detective met us at the door. The medical examiner had not yet arrived, so I was not allowed to go down to the basement. I wandered around the kitchen, and saw what a mess it was. I found moldy pizza in the refrigerator, rotting food in the sink, over 50 empty Coke cans littered everywhere, and a stack of mail that was piled on the kitchen table. I felt like I wasn't really there; my body was there, but my mind wasn't.

I needed to make some phone calls, so I asked for Adam's cell phone; he had numbers in it for his father at work. The police brought me Adam's cell phone; it had been turned off. I turned it on and found that there were several voicemail messages that had not been heard. I listened to pleas for Adam's life, and I cried more. I tried to regain my composure as I dialed Adam's father at work. Donald was in a meeting when I called. I told the woman that answered the phone, "I'm sorry to ask this of you, but I have to speak with him, I need you to go get him, tell him that Jennifer is on the phone and that it is about his son Adam."

She went and got Donald, and when he picked up the phone I could hear from his tone that he knew why I was calling. I said, "Donald, I'm so sorry to have to call and tell you this. But, Adam finally did it this time; he killed himself. I'm so sorry."

I'm not sure if he could understand everything that I said, I was crying so hard at that point, but he understood what I was telling him. He cried, and screamed; I cried along with him. To this day, I know that this was the worst phone call I've ever had to make. I hated telling Donald. I told him everything I knew, that the police were still there, and we briefly discussed that we'd need to do to make arrangements for Adam's body.

The next day, of course, things went from bad to worse. The following few days were a mess of phone calls and discussions; arrangements, legal matters and logistics. My friend Dawn and her husband Andy did so much for me during that time, from cleaning up the blood in the basement to buying plane tickets to Texas; I could not have taken care of it all without them.

In the end, here is what was arranged for Adam's final trip:

We chartered a boat out of Galveston. The sky was pale blue with wispy clouds, slightly hazy, but shockingly clear for that part of the Gulf. It had rained the whole trip down from Baytown, and I was worried that it would rain while we were out there on the water; it didn't. The sun broke through the clouds and shined like crazy, making it rather hot and sticky. My dress was clinging to my shoulders and back as I held the canister tight to my chest. The water looked unsettled and ready to get angry at the slightest offense. There are all sorts of refineries there on the coast, and you could see their hulking industrial shapes on the horizon.

I sat on a bench towards the front center of the boat, with Dawn to my right, and Leiba to my left. We sat there silently, the entire way out. I had tears streaming down my face the whole way. Their deluge did not stop until later that night. I kept thinking to myself:

"Adam, damn it, I'm sorry I wasn't there for you... I should've been, but I'll see you to the end... this is what you wanted... and I'm doing it... until the end; I'll carry you to the end. I'm so FUCKING SORRY I FAILED YOU."

I kept clutching that canister for dear life, like if I'd let go of it, it would just fly away. Or, that if I let go of it, I'd just lose all hope of sanity right there and then.

The captain of the charter had only scattered ashes once before this trip. He had scattered the ashes of his father. He took us to that same spot in the Gulf. The boat had a stereo and speaker system. His mother played some music and everyone gathered around toward the back of the boat. The time was there, and I couldn't do it. I could not let go of that canister that was anchoring me to sanity. I asked Donald if he would do it for me, because I just couldn't. The song ended and the next one came on.

Donald took out Adam's knife and opened the canister. He cut the plastic bag open and began to scatter the ashes into the blue green water off the back of the boat. It was windy out on the water, and the ashes flew up from the canister as they were flowing out and floated in the sea breeze; coating all of our clothes in his remains. As Donald continued to pour them, Aaron reached down into the stream of ashes and ground bone; he grabbed a handful and brought it to his lips and kissed it. With tears in his eyes, Adam's baby brother let them go into the water. Adam's grandmother had brought flowers, and cast them into the ocean when we were done.

I can remember the smell of the ashes mixed in with the smell of the diesel fuel from the boat's engine. I can remember how the captain of the charter rang the ships bell for a departing member; an archaic little naval thing, but it hit me and Aaron, and we both cried harder.

We went back to shore after a bit and then back to his grandparents' house. My whole body hurt; my shoulders were cramped, I had no idea how tightly I'd been holding that canister at the time. I could feel the sweat under my arms on my neck and wanted to just run away from all of them.

Before I left I talked to Aaron briefly. The last time that he and Adam had talked or seen each other, they'd had an argument. I told him about how Adam had called me the night of their argument, and how I'd told him to go get a hotel room and deal with it in the morning, and then, how I'd asked Adam about it a week later, and he was insulted that I'd insinuate that he'd remain angry with Aaron. Adam loved him dearly.

Aaron said, "Jen, he never stopped loving you, he just stopped loving himself."

"I will always be there for your kids, my Dad and I are the closest thing that they will have to knowing Adam, and I plan on being a part of their lives."

I hugged him, and then Dawn and I left. We drove back to a hotel near the airport and she opened up a bottle of wine and we drank that, then went to dinner in the hotel - where I got unbelievably drunk. We went back upstairs, and I put Elizabeth to bed; she rubbed my back as I fell asleep.

That was the day I scattered his ashes.

I hope this helps.


If you still have questions, just ask me.

More than five years ago, the noders of E2 shuddered and trembled, as their world was struck by a double blow. On September 10, 2001, Adam Purcell, the user known as Hermetic, committed suicide. The following day, the tragedy of 9/11 occurred.

At the time, I was a fairly new user, having joined in February of the same year. I had never had much contact with Adam -- the sum of our relationship amounted to his having told me off for something stupid I said in the catbox once. I'd apologized, and that was that.

Still, his death made a great impression upon me. It brought home to me just how much of a vital, vibrant community E2 was (and is). It was also an especially tragic occurrence because the events that followed so closely would surely have been enough to take Adam's mind off his troubles, at least for a while. Like all noders, he was curious, and his curiosity would have kept him glued to the news, no matter what personal troubles he was in. Had he somehow delayed his actions for 24 hours, there's a chance he might have delayed them permanently.

Them's the breaks, though.

Looking back on those days, I wonder what lessons I've learned from them. Perhaps it is that, like the gimmick to flying ("the trick is to aim for the ground and miss", to paraphrase Douglas Adams), suicide can be bypassed by appealing to curiosity. Certainly, there have been times in my life when only my innate curiosity about what tomorrow would bring kept me from killing myself.

One such time is now.

I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, this is not a suicide note. I think.

I am at a time in my life when nearly everything that I relied upon has been removed from me. My financial situation is critical, my relationship with the mother of my children is over, I will be needing a new place to stay soon (and I can't afford anything but the most meager accomodations), my Masters' dissertation has been delayed so long that it seems likely that I will drop out before finishing it. I have a mountain of debts from student loans and other crap.

Worst of all, nearly everyone that I ought to have been able to trust has failed me, to some extent. Some of these failures amount to outright betrayal, and I admit that sometimes, murder has seemed more attractive than suicide.

Sounds paranoid, doesn't it? In such a situation, an intelligent person will question his sanity, and wonder whether these emotions that rack him are not spurious. But they're not. I have every right to feel betrayed.

Fortunately for the world, I am at heart a peaceful person. I don't have it in me to run amok.

So I think of Hermetic. He had bonds that he chose to sever... violently... by turning his anguish inward and killing himself. Everyone agreed that it was tragic and wrong. But depression has its own logic.

I can tell you that on the occasions when I have been closest to suicide, I have felt almost elated. Every sunset, every sunrise, every rainbow or bolt of lightning could be the last one I'd ever see. Being that close to death, and knowing it, is almost comforting in a way. This must be how a condemned man feels before his execution.

Did Hermetic look at the world with eyes that saw every single sparkle of beauty? I don't think he did. In those last moments, he must have been blind to it. If he'd seen even half of what I see on a daily basis, all the little trivial moments of beauty, he'd not have killed himself.

He'd have soldiered on. Because that's what you do. You soldier on, no matter how black your life is. Because in between the seemingly endless misery, there's a child smiling at you, or a glitter of sunlight on a dewdrop, or someone taking five seconds out of their life to say a kind word to you. And you live for those scattered moments of beauty.

And you live.


I have grave misgivings about posting this. I feel sure that it will be almost universally misunderstood. But I feel the need to say it to someone. And E2 is the community that I have belonged to for so long that this seems almost.. appropriate. Please forgive me for burdening you with this. Read it, think about it, but don't let it ruin your own good cheer. I'm still soldiering on.


Addendum: Since I originally wrote this and placed it in my scratch pad, where it languished for several months, unread except for an invited few (and casual bypassers), my situation has worsened. Betrayals have been heaped on betrayals, and hopes have been crushed. However, I stand by the content of the writeup -- and I'm still trying to soldier on. I may fail, but if I do, it will not be for lack of trying.


Having decided to post this, finally, in the node that bears Hermetic's name, I find this piece of text, by Adam's own hand, in the first WU in the node:

I am no longer married. I have three kids, whom I miss dearly.

I am not at all happy.

 

Yes, Hermetic. I know.


Continues in This is my place, should you want to read on.

Her*met"ic (?), Her*met"ic*al (?), a. [F. hermétique. See Note under Hermes, 1.]

1.

Of, pertaining to, or taught by, Hermes Trismegistus; as, hermetic philosophy. Hence: Alchemical; chemic.

"Delusions of the hermetic art."

Burke.

The alchemists, as the people were called who tried to make gold, considered themselves followers of Hermes, and often called themselves Hermetic philosophers. A. B. Buckley.

2.

Of or pertaining to the system which explains the causes of diseases and the operations of medicine on the principles of the hermetic philosophy, and which made much use, as a remedy, of an alkali and an acid; as, hermetic medicine.

3.

Made perfectly close or air-tight by fusion, so that no gas or spirit can enter or escape; as, an hermetic seal. See Note under Hermetically.

Hermetic art, alchemy. -- Hermetic books. (a) Books of the Egyptians, which treat of astrology. (b) Books which treat of universal principles, of the nature and orders of celestial beings, of medicine, and other topics.

 

© Webster 1913.

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