A Father’s Suicide: Part of my Past Still Anchored in the Present

Note: In May of 2021, Jean-Pierre Bellemare was found guilty of another crime committed in 2018, and is currently in prison.

I came to cross this bridge, the very same where the man who gave me life had decided to end his. Tears shrouded my view, and made my path a heavy one to trod. For over 20 years, my judgment was similarly clouded.

By Jean-Pierre Bellemare

This father of four had chosen where, when and how death would take him. His problems, which seemed to him to be insurmountable, were his guillotine. For the teenager that I was, life turned into a nightmare. I had no one left to guide me! Losing a loved one is always hard, but suicide is often seen as a coward’s way out. I was left with a shameful mourning.

Raising the issue of the death of my father with anyone obliges me to relive an interior tear that I’d like to make a few comments on. It took me a lot of time and reflection to put the pieces back in place. I was purely and simply broken. I had to find a rationale for what he did. A short time after the suicide, I followed Rolland’s last steps and stood on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

A lost driver pulled over to ask what I was doing. And lo and behold, it was someone I knew, an acquaintance. My name is Bellemare, his Lespérance; my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were headed to the La Ronde amusement park. A short exchange with them, and I got in the car to have some fun at La Ronde.

To mark my 50 years on this planet, I walked the same path my father had walked, with a great deal of emotion. I finished on a park bench from which I could see the bridge. Did he sit here to mull over his choice, or confirm his decision? My father, Rolland, was a believer, but all his prayers and all his rosaries couldn’t lessen his suffering. Too often believers like him wait for their God to come and rescue them, but they end up dying in the waiting room.

Our existence has to improve the lives of others through different means. Smiles, hugs, attention to those who really need it – those we reflexively turn our heads and our hearts away from.

I’ve turned the page several times, and today I shut the book. A new story is beginning, and it begins with renewal. I stopped at the Sherbrooke SPCA to ask which animal was lined up to be the next to die. I wanted it. A long discussion ensued, and finally, I saved a rabbit from certain death.

What counted was that I save a life. I named the rabbit Rolland. My partner loves rabbits, so that rabbit is going to be spoiled rotten.

I went back to my daily routine with the most wonderful feeling of peace filling my heart. My boss is trying to sell off the business, which he is quite capable of doing. I have no worries for today, though, and that’s all that counts right now.

Tomorrow is another day.

Fist seen on the Reflet de Société internet site, June 22nd, 2017

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