A) THE STORY......
Her name was Katherine Anne Peacock. She was born in Ottawa in 1983, the middle of five children.
She moved to Montreal in 2002, and went into Creative Writing at Concordia University. She also joined the first of many musical projects she'd be on, this one called Goodman Goodman, after the leader, Ian Goodman (who'd be a bandmate of hers on several projects) I first knew her in a class I took at Concordia University with her in 2003. It was fiction writing. We became friends. Over time, much happened. She's been in many bands, from Telefauna and the Cay to Adam and the Amethysts to the Coal Choir to North, My Love and Blind Love//White Light. She started with the keyboard and piano, then moved to singing and accordion, and later on bass, drums, and guitar. She's had a couple of stage names, most notably Mussaver, and earlier on, Dorian Hatchet, sadly often incorrectly written as DORION Hatchet, after that no longer existing town whose name is memorialized in the name of a train station.
That is DORION, she was DORIAN, please get it right.
She was a multi-instrumentalist, much like the Artist Currently Known as the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Currently Known As the Artist Formerly Known As the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. From 2007 to 2009 she worked on a folk opera called Olivia, about a late friend of hers by that name, who came from Mexico. The opera was put on for three nights, and it was awesome.
She also did a piece about a man's experiences in the Guatemalan civil war. Besides her musical performances, she also was a piano teacher. One of my friends had her.
Besides music, she did many other things. She made cakes and pastries. Also was an artist. Worked at the Westmount Library. Even did some writing. Had many interests, especially nature and forests.
B) The Time Bomb Inside.....
Sometime in late 2012/early 2013, however, something went horribly wrong. Metaphorically speaking, a fuse was lit, a ridiculously long one, kind of like Mission Impossible's intro.
Except that said fuse was in her head. And it seems she had....something. Explanations are a bit hazy, and indeed, my understanding may have enough holes to fill the Albert Hall.
Or for anyone else from Quebec, as many holes as a typical road.
This is where I put the disclaimer....mental illnesses, and their victims, are NOT alike. Even with the same disease, different people will be affected/suffer differently. Had I used someone else as the "poster child" instead of Katherine, the same warning would apply. But she is the close friend who it killed, so here she is.
Anyways, seemed several things converged. She developed accordionist's back, because she wasn't exactly that large, and she had to carry the squeeze box some way when she played it. But she also had some kind of schizophrenia, or most likely, Schizzo-Affective Disorder, also known as SZA, SAD, or SZD (which was also the company that ran trains in the former Soviet Union) Think of SZD as the PuppyMonkeyBaby of mental illnesses Sadly, in this case, the three things combined were Schizophrenia (or aspects thereof), partial loss of nerve sensation (making it impossible to play the accordion), and, SEVERE DEPRESSION. I put that last part in all caps due to its importance. In 2013 she was away for a few months learning survival skills in the forest in the middle of nowhere, Ontario. When she came back, she was briefly hospitalized, and diagnosed. She told me about this because she mentioned not being able to feel enough to play the accordion. I had no idea things were getting worse. She did seem a bit more and more withdrawn. But it was so gradual. Two summers (2014 and 2015) she came up with me for a weekend at the cottage near Lachute.
The second time, she spent more time being alone in her room. In late December of 2015, when I saw her, she looked down, but I assumed it was the weather. I couldn't, or didn't, connect the dots.
I found out later that it was the time that....getting back to that bomb metaphor, the fuse ran out. She had lost her creativity, she said. Sometime in early January things went wrong. Became very withdrawn. In February she just said she was really sick. In mid-March, she was hospitalized, VOLUNTARILY I must emphasize. I saw her in March, twice. In the Psychiatric section of the Montreal Jewish General. She seemed quite fine. But, it's because....I was one of those she didn't tell everything to. Before I knew she was in the hospital, I sometimes texted her and asked how she was, I just knew she was really ill, didn't know the depth. She said she was fine. Another friend of hers said that when he texted her, she'd reply..."I AM READY TO DIE." Apparently, she was in severe pain, but I don't know the details. Mental and/or physical. She wanted to protect me, as I tend to be emotionally sensitive. I respect and thank her for that, even though it made things a bit harder to swallow when...4-6 happened.
One thing to note though...especially towards the end, she insisted that she had to do this alone. That nobody could help her. That there was only one way out, and sadly, the one Papa Roach sang about in "Last Resort."
She insisted that nobody else could help her. She had to take on this alone. Like she was a samurai. Or Batman. Or a Samurai Batman...which someone actually came up with. Although it's actually contradictory (someone with a "No Kill" policy combined with someone whose job was to kill)
Sadly, this meant, well...
C) *4-6*, *THE SITUATION*, *IMPACT*....
She was discharged on April Fool's Day. Seriously. Thought things were better. And from what I heard, so did her family. I was excited about seeing her the Thursday after. That's what she said on Monday, and told me when to come on Wednesday. Little did I know.... When I went to her apartment building, I buzzed, called, and texted. Waited for an hour. No reply. I messaged her brother, because I was worried. Considering where she was in the hospital before, I had every right to be. But I didn't ask her why she was there. It was the elephant in room B-450. Incidentally, *Elephant* is a nickname I'd use for...whatever the entity was that vivisected her from inside.
(other names I gave that "entity".....*The Darkness*, *The Void*, *The Daughter*, *Unicron*, *Bydo*, and a few that are best left unsaid!)
Thought I'd ask when I saw her after she got out. Except that would not happen. That night I got a call from the cops. She was missing. And would be that way from April 7th, until May 24th, when her body was finally both found (May 9th) and identified. It's not like those prime time crime dramas. No Mallard or Bones here.
She was found on the bank of the St. Lawrence river, near a place called St. Pierre des Becquets, halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, and known for...absolutely nothing. But her bag was found by the river in Verdun (part of Montreal, for those not familiar with the geography), and apparently, she took to swimming in the water late at night since being discharged. Whether she really wanted to die, or she just misjudged the currents, I'll never know. Although I heard that she had talked about wanting to die by drowning. But I hope she was done in by hypothermia, which is supposedly the most peaceful way to die, rather than by drowning...which is so polar opposite that simulated drowning, otherwise known as "Waterboarding", is a preferred method of "Enhanced Interrogation", otherwise known as "torture".
While she was still *missing*, before the body was found....I went to a "Circle", something practiced by certain Native/First Nations groups. Was quite meaningful. There, we were told we must do something, because what Katherine did was a cry for help, and symptoms of a messed up society, of a world out of balance.....It's part of the reason I'm writing this, by the way.
D) IS SHE.....
At one time some of us were hopeful that she just ran away...considering at the hospital she was on a "leash" for going outside (no more than, say, half an hour, later extended to an hour), and always under scrutiny....thought she'd want to just run away to the woods somewhere and live there for a while
Do not let that image fool you, she was more of a deer person than a wolf person. I saw deer with her up north, but I didn't know it was her favorite animal. Only knew about her love of seahorses. Anyway, the point is we were hopeful, but as of May 24th, well...it's official.... She’s bereft of life. Shuffled off her mortal coils. Stiff. Exited Stage right and joined the Coal Choir invisible. Bought the farm. Kicked the bucket. Her metabolic processes are of interest only to historians. Boarded the Spanish Train. Pushing up daisies. SHE IS AN EX-PEACOCK. SHE’S DEAD, JIM!
The cops said there were no signs of foul play! No criminal activity!
E) *BOVINE FECAL MATTER*, NOTHING CRIMINAL?
This is the "J'accuse" (French for "I Accuse") section. I blame society...for the whole "Smile and Shut Up" and "Conceal don't Reveal" approaches to mental illnesses, that they don't deserve attention because they're too unpredictable, and mostly "invisible." The "Smile And Shut Up" attitude towards mental illnesses is up there with the Trickle Down Economic Theory in terms of total bullshit ideas that seem pointless but are actually very harmful. She had to be very careful who she told anything to, because of stigmas attached, either people would over react, or she'd be accused of being a drama queen or an attention whore. Also, J'accuse the mental system. In Quebec, it's underfunded. In some parts of the US, it's worse (they give some patients "Greyhound Therapy", which sounds cute until you realize it means "giving them bus tickets so we don't have to deal with them any more"
And J'accuse society again, and research/science/pharma/genetic research, for not giving what Katherine had the attention it needs. Sadly, because psychiatric illnesses, especially, are so random, medications are often completely random in the effects they have. In the interests of honest advertising, they should make those pills in the shape of D & D dice....
Because what she had wasn't something that Celine Dion or one of the Kardashians has, and is rather rare....no research. There's 40 alternatives to Viagra, but no cure for her! Finally, J'accuse the way the Montreal police handled some aspects of it....that they called off a search of the river because it was the weekend (until media pressure made them get back to work). Because she had a mental condition, are they the last people it's somehow OK to discriminate against? If it was Celine Dion who had gone missing, would they act the same way? Suppose it wasn't a simple case of she was dead and carried off by the river...had it been a kidnapping or something, the way the cops act can and would be a matter of life or death.
Sadly, we cannot bring her back. We must do our best to avoid all of the "should-haves" and "what ifs" The only reason that would be allowable...it still wouldn't. Then it would be our duty to commit Grand Theft Time Machine and SAVE HER!
But unless/until that ever becomes possible, well.... firstly, we must work to remove the stigma around mental illnesses. And remove the old "Smile and Shut up" and "Conceal, Don't Reveal" attitudes. And don't say "It's Tradition" At one time it was Tradition to smoke like a chimney on trans-Atlantic flights. Actually, if you're not a milkman from a fictional Jewish settlement in Russia in a musical about violinists atop buildings, you may NOT use "Tradition" as an answer like that. And the next thing...research. We need it. As I already explained, though, there's no incentive for something that would help Katherine, if she were still around. Whether therapies, drugs, or even advanced genetics. If those with similar conditions to Katherine could have the "fuse cut" before it's too late, that would be awesome. Governments should give both grants, and tax breaks, to encourage research into stuff that isn't common or sexy enough. We MUST present this to our leaders and politicians. Make some noise, put Katherine Anne Peacock on the radar. If it's election season where you live, ask them their opinions on this. I'll be writing letters to my federal and provincial MPs. Also, will be going to petition sites.
G) WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Spread the word!
- If you know anyone in your family with mental illness, don't dismiss them or ostracize them or ridicule them. BE THERE FOR THEM!
- Telling someone with depression to "cheer up" makes as much sense as telling an insomniac to "get a good night's sleep." Don't do it.
- Spread this message. Link it. If you have a Twitter, Tumblr, or anything similar, link this entry!
- Write your MP, Congressman, or other similar elected officials, and mention this. If doing via email, give the link.
- Is it election season? Ask your candidates about this, or even email them the link. Make it clear this is an important issue.
- Letters to the editor of newspapers you read.
- Petition sites. Petition for more research. Grants and tax breaks are the best way to go, because otherwise Katherine's situation will just sit on the sideline, and the body count will rise like a George R.R. Martin book.
- Speak another language? Spread the word in that language, because mental illnesses are not picky when it comes to one's mother tongue, ethnicity, religion, social class, etc.
- Remember that the year 2016 has claimed at least THREE great Musicians, not two, THREE.....David Bowie, KATHERINE PEACOCK, and Prince.
- If donating to any mental illness related charities, do research first. Not all good causes are equal, some charities will squirrel away as much as 98 cents for every dollar donated.
- Also, if you think that somehow you may be in Katherine's situation....SEEK HELP! Also.... here's some resources....
In the USA, there is http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/ in Canada, go to http://www.partnersformh.ca/resources/find-help/crisis-centres-across-canada/ for referrals. Also, another source, strangely, is... http://lifeisstrange.com/talk/ (since the game Life Is Strange does touch on...certain stuff such as suicides) DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE! I am aware, if you exactly have Katherine's situation, you may refuse to do anything. But for everyone else....
We must do something....HOW MANY DEAD KATHERINE PEACOCKS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE SOCIETY? (Sounds like a stupid lightbulb joke, but it's not a joke, and the answer is "too many.")
And I do want more research done. I realize that mental illnesses are a completely different creature than physical. That they tend to be unique within each individual. That sometimes they drive people to even refuse help. But doing nothing is just not an option. So that's why I say, grants and/or tax breaks, get in touch with your relevant politicians when you can!
I realize I'm taking on a really big enemy that's next to impossible to understand. I also realize it won't save everyone, but then again, even Superman couldn't save everyone.
H) WHAT WE LOST.....
Katherine was....friend, coworker, lover, daughter, sister, musician, artist, teacher, student, that one person....To me, she started off as a classmate. She was a good friend. I also saw her as a sister of sorts. In fact I took to calling her "Tuafafine", which is Samoan for a guy's sister. Neither of us are Samoan, but who cares? (Actually, because she was the most important "Tuafafine", I decided her title would be "horizontally inherited" by her sister) Also, she was...the closest I had to a girlfriend on some occasions. I wasn't one of the lucky guys who actually got to call her my girlfriend, but....when she had someone, because I loved her...I wanted her to be happy with him (unless it was Charles Manson or Phil Spector, who thankfully she never dated) But because of that, when she went missing, and was found dead...it brought me closer to Ground Zero, sadly.
A couple of her songs mention "curse us with love"....sadly loving her (in many different ways) means we're all more hurt when this happened.
She was so special to so many people. Also, she was honest. She wasn't any kind of person to let glory to run to her head. She had said head firmly upon her shoulders. Also, do not let her last name fool you, she certainly was not show-offy, or vain. She was the polar opposite. Also, she wasn't judgemental or stuck up. She was a very nice person to have as a friend. But sadly, she was ripped from us.
Many memories, and wonderful songs (some of it can be found on Youtube, check "Katherine Peacock" and "Mussaver", as well as the likes of "North, My Love", "Blind Love//White Light", and "Coal Choir". Earlier stuff may not have as many videos) Also, valuable wisdom from some of her songs. If you have to pick a wise philosophical saying from a dead person....I choose Katherine Peacock's line "Understanding is the most powerful thing, of all." Also, all of you, remember..... "Your total conduct will end up saying it all."
Why use her like this? Because it's easier to get others to take an issue seriously when there's a face. It's kind of like describing the Holocaust simply in terms of numbers lost....or describing it in terms of people like Anne Frank, who died, or Elie Wiesel, who witnessed it all around him. Which conveys the message more effectively?
I realize I'm taking on something big here. I realize that this is not the easiest cause to get results for. So why do? Because (cue annoying Arnie accent)....this time, it is personal!
No, I'm not finishing with pictures of sloths. I'm not John Oliver. Instead, how about a video of Katherine Peacock performing at one of her concerts.
Rest In Love, Katherine Anne "Enagi" "Dorian Hatchet" "Kath" "Tuafafine" "Katherine Bear" "Mussaver" "Kather-Anne" Peacock! (1983-2016)
"And Peace Like a River Will Run Through The City."