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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

We all only get one shot at life... live it like you know and appreciate the opportunity

In August of this year I almost took my own life.

Hear me out. This is not a cry for attention or an effort to invoke sympathy from anyone. This is merely a self-effacing tale concerning mental anguish and the toll it can take on even those among us who view suicide as a cowards way out.

As most of you know. I lost the love of my life in December of last year. After almost 45 years of marriage I had to watch the woman that I love deteriorate and die because of a lack of proper medical care from her doctors.

We did all the right things.

We took her to every single appointment that she had. After diagnosis was made concerning her non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, we were told that we were put on the list for liver transplant. Six months later we never heard anything from the doctors about even going for an evaluation and Katrina passed in mid December after spending 17 days in the hospital following what was supposed to be a routine examination.

I blamed myself at the time. But, in hindsight, we did everything the doctors told us to to.

My friends and loved ones have implored me to file a medical malpractice suit on those involved.

The reason I don't is two-fold. I have been told by even the most high price attorneys in Fort Smith that you literally cannot win a malpractice suit against the facility that was responsible for her death.

Secondly, the months and years of legal wrangling it would take to even force a small settlement from the responsible parties would take a toll on me mentally and physically that I'm just not ready to endure.

And in the end, what would it matter? The courts could award me millions of dollars and damages but what good would that do? I would just be a bitter. old man with a lot of money.

Money is not going to bring my partner of 45 years back. Money would never filll the holes in my heart that remain from watching a once beautiful and vibrant woman deteriorate in front of my eyes.

I thought about ending it all the night she passed. The thought of facing my grandchildren and telling them that "Mimi" wasn't coming home from the hospital this time was more than I thought I could bear. Fortunately, I have the best kids in the world and they were able to help me in those first few days with relating to their own children that Katrina's death was merely a part of the larger circle of life.

I know that sounds cliche. But in your moments of desperation you cling to whatever hope and inspiration remains in your life in an effort to maintain your sensibilities.

The three days after her death remain, for the most part, a blur. I can't tell you the color of her casket, the color and/or the species of flowers we decorated the chapel with, or much about the music we played at the memorial service.

I didn't care. While we were at the funeral home making preparations, I was numb. I just kept telling everyone that I didn't care. I'm sure, thanks to the intervention of my children, it was a wonderful service having paid tribute to a quietly spectacular life lived.

Eight months after her death, I really still didn't care. In addition to my loss, I was dealing with endless, incessant attacks on me and my family from a woman who publicly stated that my precious wife's death was "my karma" for everything I had "supposedly" done to her.

I'm not sure which cut me worse. Her statements on Facebook after Katrina's death, or the fact that she called the Child Protective Services division of the Arkansas State Police in 2021 and accused me of molesting my precious granddaughter.

The authorities keep telling me that it's a civil matter. Despite the fact that a Fort Smith Police Department detective took multiple misdemeanor and one felony charge based on false allegations to local prosecutors only to have them 'wash their hands" of the whole affair, I have endured.

The county prosecutor told me in a written letter the reason he would not pursue felony charges against this woman was because she did not make false allegations against me to a "law enforcement agency".

That, despite the fact that the day they came to my home to interview me about the situation and take my granddaughter to a facility for a separate interview, an Arkansas State Police Trooper in uniform was on my porch. The investigator for CPS gave me a business card, which I still have, that bears logo of the Arkansas State Police.

My interview was conducted in a small conference room at the Arkansas State Police Troop H headquarters on Kelley Highway. The letter I received exonerating me of all the false allegations came in an envelope bearing the logo of the Arkansas State Police. The letter inside was on Arkansas State Police letterhead.

I inquired about having the person making the allegations arrested, because state law clearly says if you accuse someone of felony out of malice or an attempt for retribution and those claims prove not to be true then the person making the false claims is guilty of a felony.

I was told by a high-placed official at CPS that seven of ten allegations that come in to their office where exactly like mine and regretfully, they did not have the money or the manpower to investigate each one of those baseless allegations. My contention was if you investigate one, prosecute the person, and hold the end result up for public inspection that percentage may go way down.

As it stands, anyone can make any allegation against anyone else and there are no repercussions. That sure seems like a bass-ackwards way to enforce the laws that are on the books, but what do I know?

I'm just the blameless victim in all this. Heaven fiorbid that somebody be inconvenienced by actually upholding the law as written in Arkansas codes.

Fast forward to August. I have long been an advocate of concealed, and now open, carry. The day that Katrina died my daughter took my handgun away from me because she knew how distraught I was at the time. After the public statements about "karma" hit me a few days later, my handgun was locked into a safe.

On the first Sunday in August, I found myself home alone. I had spent the previous Friday arguing with the stonemason who has still not delivered the double monument we ordered a few months after Katrina's death. I had spent the better part of Saturday at her grave site, which is just a few yards away from the grave site of my granddaughter who we lost when she was 14-months old.

Despite the fact that I'm in good shape for the shape I'm in, I do have medical issues. Despite my recent weight loss and switching to a new doctor who has been able to better regulate my medications, I'm soon to be 66 years old and after being told in late 2017 that I had 10 years at best left because of congestive heart failure, I feel like I'm ready to go on to whatever the next level in our existence might be.

So I'm tired, I'm lonely, I constantly question my place in this world and my value to it and I am consistently on the edge of not giving a damn about anything in particular.

I decided that first Sunday in August to take my own life. I couldn't decide how or where to do it. I thought about the cemetery, but that seemed a little overly dramatic, even for me. I couldn't do it here at the house because the thought of my granddaughter being the one to find me shook me to the core.

The method? Shooting myself seemed to be a messy way to end it. Pills were an option except reading up on the internet most of the medications I take, even taken by the handful, won't produce the desired effect. Maybe I should just take Katrina's car and drive it off a cliff some place? Or go hang myself from a tree deep in a National Forest someplace.

With my luck I would probably just cripple myself or get brain damage and have to live out the rest of my life in a vegetative state. But I bought the rope. And I scouted locations.

They say suicide is a cry for help. So, subconsciously I guess when I called the National Suicide Prevention hotline I was hoping that someone could reason with me and talk me down off the ledge, so to speak.

When my call went through, I got a recordied message. The message said that all operators were busy and asked me to hold. At that very moment, I thought about the irony of calling a suicide prevention hotline and being put on hold.

Thirty-seven minutes later, when a human voice finally responded on the other end of the phone, I was laughing so hysterically at the irony that I'm sure the person on the other end of the line thought I was insane. With tears streaming down my face from laughter, I told the operator that I was now fine.

I realized then that I really didn't want to die. I want to hang around as long as I can and try to be an inspiration to as many people as I can with the limited amount of ability and integrity I have.

I have thought about writing this treatsie a dozen times. While I think it reveals a certain vulnerable mindset on my part I was also told this last week that my story might go a long way to prevent someone from contemplating the same thing that I was moments away from attempting back in August.

So if you're out there and life has kicked you in the ass, stomach or in the head DO NOT allow yourself to become a victim of your own making. If you get to the point that you feel like I did in August and you don't want to be put on hold by the suicide prevention hotline, call me.

My number is all over this website. My phone is on 24 hours a day. I cannot tell you how to extinguish or endure your pain but I can tell you in the end that life is precious and we need to utilize as much of it as we can before we move on to whatever else there is.

As for me, I'll be fine. Don't know and don't care how much time I have left. I'll be graciously remembered by some and cursed by others who will celebrate my death.

That's the way things go. That's the circle of life.

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