Death at Powell Street Station

Today at 7:55am a man jumped in front of a train at Powell Street BART Station and died.

I didn’t know this when I left for work, and grabbed my bagel, and walked down Mission St. I had no clue when the attendant saw me and said, “ You going downtown? There are delays today,” and I told him, “I’m not in too much of a hurry.”

I didn’t suspect it when the announcements came over the intercom letting commuters know that, “Due to a medical emergency at the Powell Street Station there will be delays. We recommend you find alternative means of transportation.”

And it didn’t cross my mind when too many minutes passed, and I followed the crowds toward the buses and hopped on the 14 toward Embarcadero.

I kept moving to the back of the bus as the bus driver yelled at us to make more room. We shuffled and sighed, and made more space, and played musical chairs, and tried not to fall. I looked out the windows at the day beginning, and people waiting, and a woman walking with her clanking walker, yell-speaking to a man nearby.

I  moved my eyes to the phone of the guy in front of me and I shamelessly read his texts: “Suicide, Ma.” It finally clicked.

I opened up Twitter and typed “bart” into the search bar. The news appeared, I scrolled through my screen: Man jumps in front of BART train this morning. Attempted suicide. Pronounced dead. Investigations pending.

It all felt so heavy and sad and hard. Heavy in a way that sinks your soul and fills your eyes with tears and makes you want to hug all those tightly-packed strangers. It feels heavy in the cold, in January, in the same month of my dad’s suicide. I am reminded again that sometimes the fight is hard and there are days when we simply give up.

It is painful to know another human being couldn’t manage, couldn’t make it one more day, not in a new year, not this time. It was all too much. We can be so fragile when we feel alone.

Sometimes it is all we can do to breathe and stay alive. One more moment is so much work. The weight of it can suffocate.

I was an hour late to work. I stopped to think about what was, and is, and isn’t, and how our stories overlap and intertwine and we cannot know the impact. I felt a little lost and sad and overwhelmed.

I sent my feelings to a friend and she responded with love. She knows the pain of depression, of suicide, of life. She understands too well. I guess we both do. So we reminded each other again that we are not alone. We are not alone in this. We won’t be. We can’t be. Ever.

And that is how we make it.

That is how we make it to the next moment.

We love.

“If I believe one thing to be true about heaven, it’s that the collection of souls that gave up the fight after valiantly fighting depression – they are treasured for the battle, held in precious regard because it’s unlike anything else.”  Shaylynn Kilfoyle