Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

...was the last Facebook status update my blog and Facebook Friend Lee McKinley Davenport left. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Lee turned to the prospect of premature eternal rest. Lee left this world, by his own hand, sometime Sunday.

I found out this morning as I was getting ready for work. Stunned was an understatement. What? Lee? He seemed to be doing ok, despite fighting a metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor, finding life after divorce as well as coming to grips with his sexuality in the face of family members who found this hard to handle, being a good father to his two children, and fighting to get on disabillity. I knew Lee had previous problems with depression, but he had a ribald wit that was in full view, and it seemed the the return of his daschund Willie had brought some stability to him. His new blog was even entitled "Lee's Fresh Start." In fact, Lee's last comments on this blog were his showing concern when I told the story of my head injury and his admonishment to me that I was NOT foolish for seeking medical attention, that it was the proper thing to do, and he gave me the ultimate ribbing--"Physician heal thyself".

I only knew Lee from my blog and Facebook; I had never met him in person. He was one of a kind on Facebook. I think he sets the record for "most virtual gifts given to me." I'd seriously get annoyed with him. I would come home, get on Facebook and see he had left me six virtual gifts at a pop, and think, "Jesus, Lee! I can NEVER have the time to reciprocate all these!" He also had a real habit of referring to Willie as "his weiner" and would go on for HOURS with one string of double-entendres after another along that line. I would think, "Oh, God, Lee, I can only take so much 17-year old humor." But just when you wanted to be mad at him, one of his ribald quips would show up on status comments or on your wall that actually made me double over in laughter, and you knew there was no way I could stay irked.

I have to confess that the main emotion I have to go through, every time someone commits suicide, is anger. Anger at the person who killed him/herself for leaving loved ones in the lurch, especially children left to fend for themselves in this mess. Anger at leaving ME in the lurch. Anger at those who hurt him/her so much that they would choose this way out.

I always worried about the overload of virtual gifts. What was it he wanted to accomplish from this over-display? I knew something lay under all the "flip and ribald." I knew, because I hide my own darkest demons with the same veneer. Comedy is tragedy plus time. I know for myself, I get told that I am "incredibly funny and witty." I know that some of my wit comes from deep pain. I always suspected Lee had deep pain under there.

But most of us in that situation learn to draw on that wit to heal our tragedy. We use it in gratitude to God for being alive. There was a place, I believe, where Lee could not make that jump. The psychological demons between his ears sang too many siren songs. Perhaps he even, in a sense, became addicted to the dance between his pure heart and the toxins that the pain of his life secreted.

The full picture of this dance came out today. His last virtual gift to several in his internet community was a series of posts on his private blog, his semi-public suicide note for the chosen few to see, timed so they appear after his death. He was so consumed by this pain, he could not fathom the pain he left behind in an internet community stunned by his loss by this "gift". I think the Lee I chatted with, the Lee I laughed with, would not have intended this pain. But if we take the story of the suffering of the demoniac to heart, we know the things that made the demoniac suffer were legion, and silent to the rest of us.

I'm going to be up front. I have cried tears today for the loss of a good internet friend but mostly for the potential that was within him, and the torment he must have felt within himself, and the mess it left behind. I always grieve in a hard stony way about suicide; in the back of my mind I wonder if in that last split second that realization of "this is a bad idea" falls in and oops, it's too late. I remember a story of a friend of mine who once pondered jumping off a bridge to his death. What held him back was a single thought: "What if I get halfway down and change my mind? I'm screwed."

I would like all of us to make one promise to each other in the blogosphere. Please promise to reach out, even if it is to your internet community, should you realize you have this much despair. What I have learned from my own life in the internet community is there is the capability for much love, a pure and holy love, even for those of us who find the face to face world a harder place to show our true and pure souls.

Rest in peace, Lee. I pray to God you have finally found the grace and peace you deserved. I pray for your children, your family, and your friends. I only wish you could have seen the love that was out there for you in what seemed like a rocky and barren land.


A beautiful piece about a true tragedy. So sad and wasteful.

What Lauralew said...

Kirk---I get the anger. But as someone who came very close to suicide, I have to say that I was not thinking of anyone else. And I don't think it was pure selfishness, as such. I was just so incredibly WEARY from the mental turmoil I was in. Simply breathing felt utterly exhausting---but my body refused to stop doing it, so suicide began to feel like the only way I was ever going to get any rest.

There was a place, I believe, where Lee could not make that jump. The psychological demons between his ears sang too many siren songs. Perhaps he even, in a sense, became addicted to the dance between his pure heart and the toxins that the pain of his life secreted.

Or maybe it was just one thing too many. No job or health insurance. Cancer. Divorce and loss of relationship with family. Coming out. Just how much can one human being take?

And this is where social and structural issues kick in for me. I was lucky--I had health insurance, so I could afford a psychiatrist and antidepressants. I had a social network who stepped up to the plate for me, and family who did not abandon me. I was in good physical health, even if my mental health was shot. I came >this close< to killing myself and I had everything that Lee did not.

I would echo your call to those who are suffering to reach out--but we need to offer them more than words on a screen. (I'm sure you agree--I just needed to write it down for myself.) People need hope AND practical help. As a society, we aren't doing so well in offering the latter, and I think that has a direct impact on people's ability to find the former. That is why I am such a big proponent of universal health care, including mental health care. No one should die, or be driven to suicide, because they can't afford the treatment they need.


I have to echo the sentiments expressed by Doxy. I, too, have had thoughts of suicide in the past. My children were all that kept me from it. But I can assure you that there is a place one can go where only the pain is real and thoughts of others don't really enter into it.

For Lee, my online friend, to have finally reached the place where his pain was greater than any love or any concern for others was too great to bear is a black hole from which there is no salvation. I am eternally grateful that I never made that irrevocable choice. And while I mourn for Lee and for those he left behind, I cannot fault him for making that choice. How unbearable it must have been for him to choose death over life. How seductive the peace of no suffering must have been.

Lee does not deserve our second-guessing. He deserves our prayers and our respect, and yes, our sorrow. Our God understands and loves, and calls us to do no less.

Call upon the love of the God who now holds Lee in a safe and protected dimension, and give up your anger and your own feelings of loss. You - and I - lost Lee. Lee lost everyone.



Please don't misunderstand. I am not Monday morning QB'ing, faulting, or second-guessing. Your comment assumes I have never been to that place you speak of. That would be an incorrect assumption on your part.

Doxy's right on the money that sometimes it is just that "one more thing" that breaks a person down to that "no turning back" point of despair, and that "one more thing" can be surprisingly miniscule. I don't think of it as "selfish" per se (for me, the word selfish implies a degree of personal gain and there is no gain to be had in despair), but more of a hellish self-absorption where all there is is unrelenting pain, and at that point relief of that pain is all that matters. The mere act of breathing and being alive becomes a living hell.

It is precisely why the image of the demoniac of the Gospels comes to mind for me. The demoniac is so tortured by what is going on in his head, that even the most minimal of clothes cause unbearable pain to his flesh, and he'd rather hang out in the cemetery and commune with the dead than with the living, even to the point of shouting down Jesus.

But that is the deal. We never talk about the anger that goes with that kind of pain, whether it is the loss of another, or the loss of one's own sense of self in one's final despairing moments. We hide it, ignore it, slap it down, and tell people to give it up. But what I've learned over the years is there is an honesty and truth to anger and to go to the center of it is precisely where the first step to healing lives.

Anger can go to a lot of good places. Anger is what started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Anger can change the health care situation in this country, so people will not have to despair over finances in decisions regarding their health. One less thing, in that world where one more thing can break a person in two.

But in these situations, to not acknowledge anger, to not speak honestly of it, is to deny the blessing of hope of change for the better. Anger is no different than any other emotion in that, in itself, it is neither good nor bad. It's all about what we do with it and where we go with it that matters.

It is certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thank author for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.



Bookmark and Share

About Me

My photo
Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

Read the Monk Manifesto!

Light a Candle

Light a Candle
Light a candle on the site; click on an unlit candle to begin

Blog Archive

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Creative Commons License


Sign my Guestbook from Get your Free Guestbook from

Thanks for visiting my blog!