Please Don’t Touch Anything in My Room

Ξ June 9th, 2006 | → 6 Comments | ∇ Costa Rica, Family, Life in Costa Rica, Maria Luisa |

“Leave everything like it is.

Tell my brother that wherever he is, I will be with him.

Thanks to everyone. I love you.”

Signed: Elmer Fallas A.

(From his suicide note; 8 June 2006)

We got the call last night about 8:30. Marlen called to let us know that when she got home, Elmer, Maria’s 18 year old nephew, was very sick… snoring loudly… had vomited… and could not be aroused from his sleep. Elmer has been living in her home is Moravia for about 7-8 months attending school to learn mechanics. He has a lot of potential.

ML thought he maybe tried some drugs, but I didn’t buy into that at all. This is a REALLY good kid. Intelligent, thoughtful, tall and armed with a very shy and disarming smile. When Maria had cancer, it was Elmer visiting her every day. He is a quality kid. He just did not fit the profile. I love him.

We received a couple more, increasingly frantic, calls and Marlen called the Cruz Roja to send an ambulance. They arrived and took Elmer to the Coronado Clinic. Maria and I got in the car to head over there. Whiloe driving, we received another call telling us his heart was failing in they were moving him to Calderon Guardia, the hospital where Maria has worked for thirty years. ML, of course, starts to come apart as this is her absolute favorite nephew (out of maybe 728) and she has more than once helped hom to survive a set of parents you only can read about in the supermarket rags.

We change routes and wait endlessly for the ambulance to arrive.

When it does, a very sick looking eighteen year old boy is taken into the hospital and placed on a respirator… and of course in go the tubes. He is near death. We still do not have any idea what is wrong with him, but it is now clear it probably isn’t drugs.

ElmerIt is another hour before we get a call from Carlos. He has found the note bearing the words I wrote at the beginning of this post. We just cannot believe it! Just last Sunday, we took him with us to the beach and my last memory of this shy handsome boy is him running on the beach. So recent, I have not had a chance to blog it. I remember now I took a photo of the surf with its 12-16 foot waves. It was still on my cell phone and I uploaded it here.  If you look, you can just see him by the driftwood at left.

The tears begin as it becomes more and more clear that he took just about every pill he could find in ML’s home. His heart has now lost rhythm and death seems likely. His parents have been called and his father is coming. Three hours away. The mother declines.

We wait for news… at 1 AM we are told that he is stable, but in very bad condition. Tico’s don’t use the same words I am used to. The word grave (grah-vey) is used and as it means the same in English, we hoped for the best… expected the worst. Tico’s under-exagerate these reports. We are allowed to visit his bedside. He is in a coma of course and knows nothing of our being there. His skin is cold.

I am sure that most of you have figured out by now that I am not using the past tense. Elmer made it though the night. As of this writing at 5:30 PM Friday, he is still unconscious but has begun moving and I am told this is a good sign and he will be awake tomorrow. Still unknown is if there was damage done to organs or his brain… and if so, how much.

I remember my kids at age 18 or so. The terrible pressure the US exerts upon its beautiful children at that age as they begin the last steps toward adulthood… those scary moments as they ready themselves to leave home for college or career.

Here, kids don’t leave home. In fact, Ticos are often horrified that we “force” our kids to leave home and follow their lives. We don’t, of course. It is just our culture and a part of growing up in our society. Still, they do not understand why we expect our kids to leave and I suspicion they understand less why we permit it or why they want it.

Here, there is pressure on many kids to succeed, but Elmer did not have that pressure. No university. Nothing. Just preparation for life and earning a living. But here is what I figured out… and maybe I am right. Elmer was just a wonderfully sensitive boy who never learned to express himself or to communicate his hurt to others nor to tell of the demons that must have been in his life. Nobody knew. Nobody expected.

I am tiring of this. I am tired of death. I am tired of near-death. My friend Laurie made her early exit last year. I miss her. My brother Paul passed away some weeks ago… and we still know not those causes, but he too tried suicide just weeks before. Quien sabes?

I do know I am tired of hospitals, dying, pain, and tears… and I know too much of suicide.


6 Responses to ' Please Don’t Touch Anything in My Room '

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  1. Saratica said,

    on June 10th, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    Hola, TicoGrande, You do know too much of suicide. At our age, everybody is starting to die so I’ve determined to just get used to it. Elmer’s story is so sad – he shouldn’t be on the list! So very sad when he has so much to be grateful for and he doesn’t see it. Oy vey. My kids are just going into the teenage years – 13 and 14, both boys. I’m so glad I’m here and not in the states. There is hope. Thank you for writing about this. God bless you all.

  2. Tim said,

    on June 11th, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Hi and thanks!

    He has made (we think) a total physical recovery.

    We visited him yesterday and he was alert and acting almost normal… though little eye contact… embarassed I suppose as was my brother.

    By law, he must now be sent to the National Psychiatric Hospital, and he was transferred there about 9:30 AM today.

    Death is normal and expected at our (sorry MY!) age, but there is something terribly wrong about this.

    Oh, and his family life (when he is not with us here in San Jose) is straight from the National Inquirer… and I can understand most clearly why he felt he had nothing to be grateful for… Not sure I would.


  3. jeff said,

    on June 13th, 2006 at 2:21 pm


    sorry to read about your unfortunate incedent(s) lately. life can pile things on in a hurry. my brother was killed in the line of duty in february, around the same time of your brother’s passing. since then, i’ve been a bit raw. just this past weekend, i had to take my 3 month old son to the ER. He’s fine now, but i tell you what, i’m getting tired of it. but they say, god only gives you what you can handle.

    just wanted to say i can relate. hang in there.


    long time reader, 1st post…

  4. Tim said,

    on June 14th, 2006 at 6:16 am

    Thanks Jeff. I too am sorry for your loss and I am delighted that your little boy is fine. Love makes us vulnerable… but hard to imagine the world without it.


  5. Saratica said,

    on June 15th, 2006 at 8:00 am

    Hi – just made it back to read the comments… SO glad he’s made a good physical recovery. Gracias a Dios he has a family in San Jose who understands love and kindness to assist with his emotional and spiritual one!

  6. Frantica said,

    on February 20th, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Thank God Elmer seems to be doing O.K. I’m glad yawl are “standing in the gap” and loving him. My 15 year old grand-daughter overdosed a couple of months ago after having another run in with her drunken father. She too is thankfully o.k. Life is not fair, especially to the children these days. Everyone deserves a happy childhood to look back on when life gets rough. My hubby and I have adopted two other grandkids and are raising them in a happier place. Hope to get them out of the U.S. and into Costa Rica within the next couple of years. The good life is mostly gone here. God Bless,
    Frances or FRANTIC-A ! Me, most days:)

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