LIFE, DEATH AND REBIRTH
The heart-breaking story of supermodel Irina Pantaeva. A mother facing the difficult reality of her son suicide.
An open letter by Irina Pantaeva – on her own words.
October 2, 2019. Ulan-Ude, Siberia, Russia.
“The fresh breeze of the fall air is sneaking through the small crack of the window in my childhood bedroom. My six-foot-tall body cheerfully hangs off the edge of the bed that I have slept in since I was a little girl. Home sweet home. As I am dozing off into a dream world, my phone rings. It’s 11.30 pm. An unfamiliar male voice. “Ma’am, is Ruslan Pantaev related to you? “Yes. I am his mother. We have found him dead on the floor of your living room with a note lying next to him. It’s not possible. It’s a mistake. It doesn’t make sense. We speak every day. Sorry for your loss Ma’am. No. He has plans. He is excited to graduate from Brooklyn college in two months and get a job as a computer programmer. He just sent me his new resumé, new music that he composed the other day.
Ma’am, his body is going to be moved to the medical examiner’s office right now. When can you arrive to New York?...
Like an earthquake rumbling under my feet, crumpling the ground beneath my bed, the foreign word suicide broke into my home. I put a coat over my pyjamas, grabbed a passport and headed straight to the airport. Flight to Moscow was sold out. I begged the supervisor to put me on this flight 6 hours later transferring to the international airport. Another 14 hours of flying back to NYC. Can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t breathe, can’t believe what’s happening. It’s just a dream. I say to myself. When I wake up, my son will call me. My girlfriend picked me up from the NYC airport. She took me to her house. I am calling my son. It’s ringing. I left a voicemail. He always calls me right back. Just wait. Next morning three friends and I went to the medical examiner’s office in Manhattan. Ma’am, can you identify this person? Yes. I am his mother. Shh. Be quiet please. Don’t wake him up. He is sleeping. The medical examiner confirmed that my son used the method called Suicide bag. She said, there is a book called “Final exit” sold on the internet. This method has become very popular among young people. It should be banned!
I’m walking down First Avenue in Manhattan to deliver this horrific news to my younger son, How on Earth am I going to tell him this?
I feel my heart is cut to pieces; my legs are paralysed. I am screaming but no one can hear me. Everywhere I look, I see him smiling at me. My son's music from his latest album “Walking city” breaks the weary silence in my ears like a soundtrack of a movie.
This cannot be real. Yes. I am on a film set. I am just playing a role of a mother, who lost her son to suicide. I feel like I gave my all for this scene. I am exhausted. Why does the director keep rolling? When is he going to say cut!
My cousin, the only family member, who was able to fly in. He acts as my anchor, cooking food and putting me into bed. I am hand painting on the white dress shirt a Peaceful Warriors United logo with his name, date of birth and death and a message “I love you all “. We brought his clothes to the Brooklyn funeral home. My sweet peaceful warrior is resting in the casket before embarking on the 49 day’s journey to a new reincarnation, also known as Bardo. As I was looking at him, all the walls of the building expanded as if into a multidimensional space. I am sitting down on a chair. He sits right next to me. We start talking.
‘Hi Mom. Sorry, but I had to leave this world. This is the time for me to go back to Nirvana. don’t worry about me or Solongo. I am going to be by your side and continue babysitting my brother. He's going to do well. Just be patient. I got a new job up here as Archangel Ruslan and as a computer programmer at the healing music and programming an algorithm that purifies individual karma at the grid of cosmic matrix. He gives me his signature smirk of a smile.’ I am so proud of you, Sina. I am not surprised. Remember, when you built your own computer in three days? One day you came to me and said Mom, there is no computer out on the market that is powerful enough for me to record my music and program new algorithms. You built the most incredible computer. When you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 years old, in the middle of the spring semester at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, I brought you back to our Manhattan home, and you started painting on the living room floor. I was privileged to witness your creativity. You made the most beautiful artwork that I admire looking at them every day. You always experimented while playing on acoustic, electric seven and eight string guitars and taught yourself to play jazz, blues, rock, and classical music. You invented your own tapping technique while playing on strings as if running fingers over piano keys. You even designed and spent time with guitar makers building your own instrument. When you were six years old, you built a Lego within minutes and turned around and said to me’ Mom, don’t be too sad or so happy, just take the middle way. I asked you How do you know that? I just know, you replied casually. I called you, my little Buddha.
Your profound wisdom raised me up time after time. Remember, after one of your music performances at the Piano’s club downtown in Manhattan, people asked you about the Overdubbing (also known as layering) technique that you experimented on stage. You explained, it’s like layering vignettes of life, happy or sad into one harmonious piece. Keep in mind that if you tighten the string of your instrument too much, it’s going to snap. If it’s too loose, it’s not going to play. Create a harmony within you so that others can hear you. I hear you, Sina. A silence came over me. My memories brought me to the present. I interacted. Where would you like me to bring your ashes? I thought to bring you to the top of the sacred mountain Shumak, the homeland of your grandfather. It’s very beautiful there.
‘I like your idea Mom’. Ok. So, we will do it this way.”
About 60 people dressed in white, arrived to say Goodbye on October 11, the day of the funeral. While 4 Buddhist monks were chanting special prayers, I did my best to stay focused. I am chanting on and off along with them. My heart was bleeding when looking at my younger son’s shattered soul. I could not cry. I still believed that my baby would wake up and we would go back home together.
“If I could ..., trade my place with you, so you could ... take another breath in ... and you would...Be able to climb up the mountain and you would...exhale ... all the painful obscuration and you would ... pause... and take another breath in and you would ... Keep climbing the mountains till you surrender to ... Meet me there ... “
How can I live without my son? How can I breathe on my own without his heart beating next to mine? How can I tell my father?
The priest, also known as Rinpoché, made the last prayers and pressed the button. The casket was descending into the fire. Just like that, my son's body slowly evaporated into tiny specks of dust. Goodbye my precious baby, till we meet again.
Now your heart will be beating harmoniously in the eternal symphony of heavens. We walk outside to watch the thick smoke descending from one of the chimneys. Ruslan’s first major work (for 50-piece live orchestra) “Flying Sketch “that he composed at 18 years old, is playing as a soundtrack. We are all standing and observing how the sun rays are piercing through the smoke and shaping them into beautiful clouds. His gentle, humble soul is returning to the Star kingdom. I am right here Sina. I am going to be journeying with you till your next rebirth. I am going to be praying for your new mother’s good health and happiness. I am sure that you're going to bring so much love and joy to the world again. Meanwhile, Rest in Peace my sweet baby. I love you eternally. G. Gratitude R. Resilience I. Integrity E. Empowerment F. Forward Grief is not something we ever get over, and it doesn’t ever stop. What we learn to do is grow around our grief, to encompass it and incorporate it or manage it into our own life. We walk with it. We breathe through it. I am eager to understand what causes Mental illnesses. What are the root causes of suffering? It’s not a selfish act on their part. This is reaching a depth of hopelessness so deep that they can’t even see anything except how to get out of their pain. They don’t want to die. They just don’t see any other way out. When my son disappeared from the face of the Earth. I began searching for my own soul. July 2022. Dharamsala, India. I decided to bring him to all the holy places in India. I packed his ashes in a sealed bag, my prayer beads, hiking boots, a wind proof jacket that I got him for his birthday with the born in the mountains label on it, sleeping bag, energy bars, first aid kit. I am off to pursue my mission in the Himalayan Mountain. On the same afternoon of my arrival to Namgyal monastery, Dharamsala, the residence of His Holiness Dalai Lama, I went to meet with my teacher, Jhado Rinpoche. I asked for his guidance. He kindly offered to do special prayers for the next 3 days, which happened to be during the Dalai Lama teachings which I attended. I, along with Geshe La and Ani La from the Basgo nunnery from Ladakh, are offering a special ceremony at the Sacred Stupa where the Buddha and the first teacher to the 14 th Dalai Lama were cremated. This is located on the top of the mountain hill in McLeod Gang, Dharamsala. As we were praying and sprinkling my son’s ashes, the brightest ray from the sun pierced through the thick monsoon clouds like the thunder bolt directly upon us. It felt as if I was transcended into Shamballa, a heavenly treasure of jewels. In awe, I whispered my deepest gratitude to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Guru’s, family, friends, and wandering strangers for guiding me every step of the way to complete the stage of his peerless path of liberation. In this moment, my wounded heart broke free from the imprisonment of grief, despair and sadness.
I climb up my mountain like I walk through the desert. Thirsty for life, love, liberation. I’m curious: What’s up there? Through sweat, blood, inner war, I know one thing: Push through, common, one more. Then, I can’t hold on anymore. Crushed hard this time. Hurts... but I’m still alive, with eyes drowned in tears, fear but not lies. I get back up again. Keep breathing... inhale ... I’m blessed. Exhale... I’m liberated. I proudly admit, yes, I fell down only this time, I failed forward. Determined, I take another step forward Never Give Up!
The love in me, sees the love in you. The peace in me, sees the peace in you. The Warrior in me, sees the Warrior in you. You are the gift to the world!!!
United for Peace, Determined Mother, truly yours, Irina Pantaeva October 25, 2022
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IN HOW TO DEAL WITH GRIEF AND HELP LINES INFORMATION https://www.parliamentarysociety.com/post/coping-with-grief-and-loss