My sister Lindy got up at 7 a.m., like she does every day. She walked into the living room and opened the curtains then slowly made her way to the dining room to open those curtains.
A pair of doves nest in a fern my sister has hanging on her balcony. A bright green and beautifully lush fern. Twice a year the female lays eggs in it. She sits on them and waits for the male to return with food. If the male thinks she's in any danger, he flies quickly to the balcony railing to stand guard. I've seen him come zooming in from out of the blue if I stare too long up at the nest. They know my sister. They don't know me.
The doves have been coming to her balcony for many, many years. Lindy thinks they bring her good luck and is always excited when they finally appear. One year they didn't come, they'd gone to a nearby apartment instead. Lindy spent that year waiting for bad luck to strike. It didn't. But she held vigil anyway. The doves always have two or three babies and they hop around the balcony before they finally take flight as young adults.
The doves aren't perturbed by my sister watering her plants. They even tolerate her dog Yoshi, who is so fat he'd have a hard time lifting his head to locate them.
When Lindy opened the dining room curtains on Friday morning she saw a man lying on the terrace outside her third floor condo and thought, “How weird that Mel is trying to get some sun this early in the morning.”
And then she saw the blood.
She was in such shock she called the front desk instead of 911.
They called 911.
Mel had thrown himself off his 10th floor balcony and landed in front of Lindy's dining room windows.
Two days before National Suicide Prevention Week.
Lindy cried and cried and when the police came, and spent four hours at the scene, they suggested tenants talk to counselors. Others, as it turned out, also saw Mel lying on the terrace.
This happened last Friday. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday. My sister is like my late father, and my mother. They are not divulgers of painful feelings. For them, it happens and then you move on. For me, it happens and then you dwell on it for years.
A therapist who lives in her building opened her doors to all the residents. Lindy went. The therapist diagnosed her with PTSD. A tenant gave her some Klonopin. She's been on it since the suicide.
Lindy told me this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. That she discovered the body of a friend who died violently. I believe her.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
"Mel wasn't liked in the building. He made trouble for the condo association. They called him a dissident. I liked him and everyone knew that."
Lindy likes everyone.
“People are avoiding me; I ended up not wanting to tell everyone else.”
“I’m not everyone else. I’m your sister.”
Like I said, everyone in my family leans towards taciturn in events of the heart.
Mel left a suicide note. He was bipolar. He was 77. He was divorced. His wife lived in the same building, but in a different apartment.
The day that Mel jumped the doves left their nest. Three days went by and they didn’t return. Lindy anxiously checked the fern for signs of their slim grey tail feathers, which stuck out from the fern when they were in residence.
On Tuesday Lindy got up on a stool to look inside the nest. That's how convinced she was they were still there. There was a lone egg in the fern. Cracked open. The baby dove lay in the jaws of the broken shell.