Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What a plunge!!! Was it worth it?

It’s not something we hear that much of – a suicidal jump off the Chicago Skyway into the Calumet River.

That's quite a plunge from bridge to river. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
We’re more likely to hear of someone taking a plunge into the Chicago River – where the pollution likely would infect them with something more deadly than exposure to icy-cold water.

PART OF IT is that the Skyway is 10th Ward – that far southeastern corner of Chicago that often feels ever so isolated. Plus there’s the fact that getting onto the Skyway isn’t that easy without a car. And even with one, there really isn’t a place to park it before jumping – you’re likely to get hit by a motorist somewhere along the 7.8 mile stretch before you can take the leap.

Unless you want to stop off at the McDonald’s franchise on the Skyway near the Illinois/Indiana border. How depressing would it be for one’s final image of life to be Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar? Or to learn that the particular McDonald’s franchise has gone out of business. No final glimpse of “Mayor McCheese” for you, bud.

So it is with that premise in mind that I read the news report from the Chicago Sun-Times about the person who got onto the Skyway, then took a plunge into the Calumet River.

Which for all I know is even more contaminated with industrial waste than the Chicago River ever was.

The Calumet River, a place where salt and sludge are stored openly
OF COURSE, CONSIDERING that the Chicago Skyway toll road is nearly 200 feet in the air, that would be one heck of a plunge – one that theoretically could kill someone before being exposed to the Calumet River water.

I was surprised to learn that the person who jumped Monday afternoon was actually still alive when pulled from the water by Chicago Fire Department rescue crews.

Taken to Advocate Trinity Hospital, the person was listed in critical condition initially, but then later died. Officials were not immediately willing to identify the woman, but said it is an apparent suicide.
Now I don’t know anything more specific about this incident other than what the Sun-Times was able to publish on their web site. I don’t know anything about who this individual was – or why she felt that life wasn’t worth living any longer.

The area bridge most people know - the Blues Brothers
ALTHOUGH IT WOULDN’T shock me to learn in the future that some of my cousins, aunts or uncles who still live on the Southeast Side may well have come into contact with this individual at some point in their lives.

Neighborhoods like South Chicago, the East Side, South Deering and Hegewisch do have the feel at times of isolated rural towns – feeling cut off from the rest of the city and sometimes even from themselves.

I do sympathize with this person, wishing they could somehow have found something in life to make them realize just how much it is worth living.

I know in my own case, the recent death of my brother has had me pondering more often in recent weeks about what the afterlife, if there is any, is truly like.

Truly an isolated part of Chicago
BUT IT ALSO has me convinced of the need to make what is left of the rest of my life as worthwhile as possible.

Because I suspect if there is an afterlife and I am destined to meet up with my brother again, he’ll be waiting for me and would pound the living daylights out of me if I were to let my loss of him totally devastate me into accomplishing nothing else with my time alive on Planet Earth.

I’d like to believe that the most significant thing I accomplish in my life has yet to be done. That’s the best way I can think of to pay tribute.


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