SHAWN'S FINAL STORY
I suppose that many of you out in the cyber world have put two and two together and are waiting for affirmation of your conclusions. So, here it is, the answer that no one wants to hear and that many people have guessed and the one that my fingers are afraid to type. One week ago today, Tuesday May 23, 2006, Shawn Matthews took his life, sometime before 5 pm by jumping from the roof of his apartment building. His body is scheduled to be cremated and sent home in the next couple of days, along with all of his things.
I guess, at this time, I will try to fill in as much of any story that I can, so people can try to make sense of what has happened. For those of you who really knew Shawn, you will know that he had his super happy moments and he had some not so happy times as well. I am not sure the impression that the people who know him from the internet have, but I know that the persona that he put on and the stories that he told on the net often skewed from his real feelings and the situation.
While I have never spoken to his ex-girlfriend in Korea about the way he was there, I remember it was almost exactly 1 year ago when he was having some relationship, emotional problems in Korea and he had the feeling that he just wanted to quit his job and get out of Korea. I told him that I had an extra bedroom and he could crash for free for a month or so, which eventually turned into the rest of his life in China. He was really struggling in Korea, he had me calling his girlfriend from China to see if she would answer the phone and then he moved out and was crashing on his friends floor. He soon quit his job, scammed his old boss and flew to China...
Since many are familiar with the story of his time here, or at least the on-line version of real life, we will fast forward to the most recent past. He had began to see someone, a person that he felt was the WORLD, and he felt and expressed more and more the deepness of THEIR MUTUAL love. This was more than a month back that this began. No one thought anything of it, people fall in love all the time. I was skeptical of the girl, I had known her for a while, and I advised against him seeing her prior to them actually dating, but accepted his choice of course. They were in love as he said, and did not want anyone to say that the object of his affection was less than perfect or question his feelings. (He was telling me of his love a year earlier in Korea as well)
Everything appeared to be as he was claiming, a couple in love. When they were together, everything was as normal as could be. But, then the May holiday came around, and his companion went to see her family and he stayed in Beijing (maybe you remember his last three posts). Upon return, the relationship had in some way changed. The first day back, Shawn pointed out two me that the two had not made contact since her return. She was confused and did not know what to do. Certainly, this was a strange situation. I offered my opinion, and it turns out that others had a similar opinion, of the the situation.
At what seemed to be the perfect, and worst timing possible, I released the secret of Shawn's website when informing his companion about my website as a way to see about my trip to the Philippines. She immediately got on-line and found his website and was upset about it for many reasons. You can all recall that post... It was probably on the 10th or 11th of May. On that day, immediately after she confronted him about the website, he stopped eating properly, starting with that lunch.
He pressed on, but he was a little different; quieter, reserved and reclusive. But, the weekend of the 13th and 14th showed signs of improvement, the two love birds seemed to be back in the swing of things as he put the story. The truth of this persona he was putting on is to be questioned, he just did not feel the same at that time. Sometime during that week, he lost his phone in a taxi, and lost all ability to contact or be contacted by a lot of people who did not have his home phone number.
He was complaining about not being able to sleep and not being able to get sleeping pills at the pharmacy like he could in Korea. He had complained about sleeping problems before and obviously he had them in Korea before as well. On the bus, he basically stopped talking and did not say much at lunch either. He just listened to his mp3 player, if anything was coming out of it at all.
On Wednesday night, the last time we met, we went to have a couple beers during happy hour at Eudora. We both had 2 Kilkenny's. Then, we went around the corner to Coup's Deli and had dinner, both having hamburgers. We talked just like everything was normal. I paid for the beers and he payed for the food. When we walked out of Coup's, he said that he wanted to take a taxi, but I felt like walking home, so he walked with me a bit to chat, and not normal chat. He was giving me advice in a strange way, a dark way. Then, he got into his taxi and went home and I walked, with a strange feeling inside.
On Thursday morning he called me at about 7, he said that he would not be going to school and that he was going to get our boss to take him to the Western hospital to get some proper sleeping medicine and get some rest. He said to me, in a tearful, almost sobbing voice which I did not know how to react to, "it's never been like this before." Id di not react to this correctly initially, but I recovered and asked how he was and assured him he will be OK, just to get some rest and call me if he needed anything.
Work went on as normal that day, Shawn often missed work for illness. The next day, was the same situation, he called early in the morning to tell me that he could not go to school, that he had a fever and still could not sleep, so he could no go to school. On the internet, he seemed ok, I talked to him for a short time. On Friday is the day that his blog disappeared forever, completely deleted, even the files are gone, not just hidden.
I expected to see him on-line during the weekend, and I posted the return CLB post, hoping he would see it. Little did I know, that after Friday, he would never be on the net again. Over those days, he had been sitting at home drinking alone, even sending his love away, and calling to America numerous times, talking to his mom. He was not on-line all weekend because he had broken his computer, apparently he had passed out and spilled beer all over it and it just stopped working.
On Monday, he did not come to work again, he could not handle it anymore. He was talking of going home. He wanted to go home, he needed to go home. The second to last time I talked to him was on Monday morning when I called him from my phone at school. He sounded tired and sad, and I told him that I would help him in any way I could, the he only needed to call. He sounded sad, but not as bad as ...
Tuesday, his last day, 7 am, he called me, he sounded completely fucked up drunk, he said to me, "Jake, I am going to the hospital."
"What is wrong?" I asked.
"The shit really hit the fan." he replied in slurred and angry words.
"What do you mean? Are you OK?" I asked him.
"I am just telling you where I will be!"
I asked which hospital and he told me, I thought he was going to check in, but the fee was far to much for a normal person to afford and so he went home. The hospital wanted to keep him, but he did not want to pay the fee. He got more sleeping pills, but the doctor refused to give them to him directly, he gave them to someone else to give to him at time to take them.
He went home and seemed better. His girl and myself and Jiao Jiao had planned to go and see him after work, straight after work. However, he told his girl to wait until 7, he wanted to sleep. This was at about 2:30.
This gave us time to make dinner for him, and so, at my apartment we began cooking at around 5 exactly. Here is his final meal, which sat uneaten on my counters until the next afternoon. Beef and nachos from me, and soup from Jiao JIao. I think you would have liked it.
And there everything sits, just as it was the second that the phone of his girl rang and she walked into the kitchen with massive eyes and grabbed my arm, speaking frantic Chinese into the phone. I instantly grabbed her, I knew already what had happened. But, I will never forget her face as she hung up the phone and said, "Shawn is dead!" I grabbed her, and told Jiao Jiao that it is real and it is him. As soon as I got things settled enough, I sent messages to some people to get everyone I could around, to have everyone help everyone.
It was a long night, I called the embassy and we eventually met them at Shawn's apartment complex. We were there when they removed the body around 8. I was watching the police dig through his apartment, I made sure they found his money for his family. It was not easy; caring for the women, helping the outsiders in my friends apartment, dealing with my own emotions...But, the night was eventually over. And for one night in my case, Shawn's sleeping problem became my sleeping problem, as I asked, "Were you conscious when you jumped? Did you think about it? How long did you plan it? How quick...Did you pass out?" But, mostly I just watched the girls face, "Shawn is dead!"
"Shawn is dead!"
"Shawn is dead!"
"Shawn is dead!"
All night, I watched this. And the next day, while putting the whole story together in my mind, I taught class. And, I taught the best class I possibly could, the whole day. I did not let this stop my life, I moved on instantly, pushing back the tears and bringing out the happiness.
So, for the added pieces of the story...From the woman at the shop, the last person to see Shawn as far as we know; he had drank a lot of beers that day and complained about missing his mother, he wanted to see his mother. She also offered to cook him dinner, he told her to knock on his door at seven (familiar story). We believe it was her that found his body atop the first floor overhang.
From Shawn himself; his father committed suicide and he had commented how much he missed him.
We are guessing that it could be in this month or at least in spring that this happened.
From the girl; She never told Shawn that she loved him, except when he pressured her. She did not want to be with him, she was unsure of foreigners and what not. Many people think that she has multiple boyfriends. Apparently, her phone was always going off and she would not stay, she would claim to be the object of other men's desire and what not... Regardless, she was an excuse, not the cause.
I have not cried for you Shawn, I will not cry for you if I can possibly help it. I forgave you for many many things in our life, things others would not. I invited you to China when others would not...But, I will not feel sorry for you, not at all, cause you had it good, too good apparently. I, and everyone else, feels for your mother and grandfather or any other loved ones you might have. Not only do they have to deal with your death, but they have to deal with the embassy and the Chinese government to get their son home, in ashes.
This was your Get Well card, it sits in my house as well, where we left it when the phone rang.
"Shawn, we have been friends for a long time and will be forever."
Forever was not a long time. And when I was drinking with my friends the other night and someone asked me about you and I said,
"I hope you wish you were here!"
You can read the comments on Shawn's store by clicking here.