A Eulogy of Sorts – Constable Clifford Seth Hoffmann 15 June 1987 – January 24 2011


Yesterday, between 2:30 – 3:30am, my soul mate shot himself.

Isn’t that such an awful thing to say? I am rather shocked myself.

As I write this, heart-wrenching sobs invade my body, and I am doing The Ugly Cry. At the moment I am numb. Dead inside. As if I am simply existing – breathing, speaking, and so forth – but by no means alive.

Many of you have read my posts on Twitter and I am so sorry to burden you with the burden Cliff placed upon me and his loved ones. I have so much vent, pent-up frustration and anger, guilt, devastation, love, relief, turmoil, sadness, depression, desperation, tears. Heart-broken. Aren’t we all?

I am so lost. Thrown from my path, attempting to find reason within the tangled branches and thorns that tear at me until simply my skeleton remains, even the bones engraved with sadness and longing. The same skeleton that Cliff’s body will imitate, once his body decomposes until it is virtually unrecognizable in the cold, desolate ground, besides for the bullet wound, I suppose. My heart lies shattered, never able to resemble what it once was, and no matter how hard I try to stick it together with superglue that has long since passed its expiry date, it will always be missing those fragile pieces that once made it whole. A fragile heart forever.

Who was Cliff? How do you define a person by what he once was and not what he is supposed to be: ALIVE! That really threw me. When Marc arrived to tell me “Cliff is dead. He shot himself” and attempted to pull me into a hug, I tried, I really tried, to fight him off, saying “No. NO!” and walked away. Step one of grieving – denial – check. And immediately then, everything reverts to past tense, and you so want to tell people: SHUT UP! Is not was. As if they dare to do such a thing, what mockery! Furious at them, furious at myself. But most of all, furious at him, for even daring to put me in such a circumstance. Step two of grieving – anger – check.

As soon as Marc told me, I said “I want to see his body.” He didn’t think it would be a good idea, but I had always known it was something I needed to do. As a nurse, I cope with death by staring it in the face, and I did so today. After hours of waiting for the police, and pathology “experts” to finish their investigation, they asked for more hands to move the body. His body. And as soon as Marc saw his feet in the passageway, he left and broke down. This is the second time I have ever seen him break down and it is so hurtful to see him in so much pain. They then took Cliff out, and I inspected him briefly. His body was in full rigor mortis, and they lay him with his left hand still upright in the gurney. I then walked through to take his sheet off his bed, and we covered him. I was so grateful to have seen him as is, because I don’t really expect him to come around the corner yelling “Surprise!” maniacally, yet at the same time, it will be a sight that has been burned into my memory, leaving behind a scarred brain.

Cliff was (?) an incredible man. Unfortunately he had been through so much, that I just believe he gave up. It seems evident to me that he was in such a seemingly never-ending well, and when he crashed to the bottom, after a long fight, in whatever state of mind he must have been (although I do believe it to be a clear one) he decided that being alive was not worth it, or not as painful as being dead could be – weightless. I have had many discussions with Cliff’s other friends, and so many stories have arisen, some happy, others sad. Cliff always did things the right way, and he ensured that his death was carried out in the same manner – no chance for error.

I do believe that you have a soul mate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you are going to marry, for you may have married them in a past life, but someone with whom you have an intense connection. Our relationship was indescribable – we couldn’t even understand it ourselves. It was special, simple, complicated, loving. I guess you can see why I feel so heartbroken, as if a piece of my heart is missing. But more importantly, I feel as if a piece of me is missing. We always used to seem to carry on from where we left off. The next time we will be able to do that is when I join him one day.

Cliff hated me in heels so that I wouldn’t be taller than he was. He loved the way I made his cups of tea. He showed me Cedric first when he took him home. He always used to say that if I was single at the age of 26, we were going to get married. My dad once told him I must give him a blowjob…. I never gave it to him… He used to show me moves to defend myself in a dangerous situation. We used to share so many jokes because he used to tell everyone how small his penis was, and I would say “right! Let me get out the electron microscope.” And we would have a proper giggle. Hugs were the most important to us. I remember when he took my boa snake in, and the one day it died, and he was so terrified to tell me. By the time I came over, the smell of methane had emanated around the room, and the snake was definitely dead. He had the same luck with animals that I have 😀 and oh how he loved his damn whiskey! When he moved into his own place, I gave him the fridge and some dishes and towels. We played pool sparsely. He loved pool so much. So much detail. So much to remember.

I remember when he had his car accident on the night that he left my birthday party, and we went with him to hospital. They stitched his head wound, and as he was a lover of pain, he would laugh maniacally – a laugh that was heard down the hallway and gave all goose bumps – and as the doctor was stitching his head he yelled “YOU CUNT! *then turned to the doctor and said* “no, not you Doctor, but you FUCKING cunt!”*” It’s still something that makes me smile. Bittersweet.

We spent some fantastic times together. Cliff had the most beautiful heart. This story reminds me so much of him, even though he was still so young when he died:

One day a young man was standing in the middle of town proclaiming he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley.
A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.
Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted loudly about his beautiful heart.
Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”
The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.
The people stared — “How can he say his heart is more beautiful,” they thought?
The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love — I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.
Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty really is?
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and most beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands.
The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.
The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side saying “Only God” can make a Beautiful Heart!

Things I Regret

 – Not making him that last cup of tea like he asked me to.
– Not speaking to him more often.
– Not helping to make his own place more like a home. I should have helped him more with laundry, with buying him food, things he needed, and so forth. I didn’t.
– Not asking him how he was really feeling. I think we take that for granted a lot.
– Not telling him often enough how much I love(d) him. Luckily the last time we spoke – 6 days before he died – the last thing I said to him was “I love you” and he said “I love you too”.
– That he had his accident that began everything rolling downhill on the night he left my birthday at home. Irrational I know.
– Not seeing him more often. He told a few people that he was waiting for me to contact him, because he wanted to see me so badly. I was so self-absorbed with myself and my varsity work, that the thought never entered my head.
– Not doing this, not doing that. Regrets forever. I believe we all could/should have done more. I keep thinking “I should have done this” or “If only this had changed he would still have been alive”. Step three of grieving – bargaining – check.

After we found out, that night Marc and I went to meet Raf at Primi in Melrose Arch. He was shattered. Raf and Marc shared stories about Cliff as a police reservist. How he used to tell Marc during the parade “Lifschitz, don’t fuck this up!”. Him, and Raf and dear Bella. In a sense I regret that I was not part of the police aspect of his life. Meant I spent even less time with him.

It has now been 31 hours since I had last slept. I found out around 2pm on January 24, and it is now 11pm on January 25th 2011. During this time period I have moved from heartbroken to numb (step four of grieving – depression – check.) The following is some of the tweets I have posted to Twitter in my anguish:
– I have lost my soul mate today. I am shattered beyond belief. What will I do without you? I will always love u @CliffHoffmann
– For those asking, he took his life. He will be truly missed. Thinking about him in heaven drinking whiskey with his dad and laughing at us.
– Sitting outside the hospital sobbing. Such a heavy burden.
– RT @davegreenway: @CliffHoffmann goodbye my friend. I hope you have found peace. I will miss you. The world seems a little colder without you.
– The next day and you’re still gone…
– @pinkhairgirl: At the numb stage so doing as well as can be expected. Not crying anymore, the well is dry.
– Need to write a blog post. I’m so numb, that I’m scared if I write it, it will open everything I have shut down. It scares me.
– Really need to stop posting on Twitter for a bit. Ramblings from a deranged woman, huh?
– Without you…. Life goes on, but I’m gone, cause I die… without you. @CliffHoffmann.
– Just surviving.
– RT @CliffHoffmann: I was once told a story: A man walks for days to find his soul and when he gets to his destination he finds glory and beauty. Keep walking.
– @RunningGolfer No emotion today. No desire to help #TheBoyfriend even tho he isn’t coping. This isn’t me.
– At first I was feeling numb and okay. Now I’m feeling numb but not okay.
– Finally in bed 31 hours later. So when I wake up, will he be back? 
– Funeral day

______________________________________________________________

January 26 2011

Today we laid to rest Constable Clifford Seth Hoffmann.

Oh my God. What a long, draining day…

Funeral day. We were running late, of course. What other way would it be? And thus we drove in our response cars with lights and sirens, keeping our friends who didn’t have emergency lights and sirens in the middle of the convoy, and responded to the cemetery. It was a complete rush of adrenalin, a game, and Cliff would have loved it.

Hugged so many people on the way up to greet Cliff’s family. They wished me a long life, and all I can think about is “Seriously? Are you fucking joking with me? My friend is dead and you want me to live longer without him?” This really irritated me. I went up to Gina and Matt and Lindy, and simply hugged them so tight, and whispered that I am so so sorry and should they ever need anything I am right here. Matt looks so much like Cliff, the resemblance shocked me. Heart-breaking.

 And then the people made a pathway and they rolled the coffin carrying my dear friend’s body, dead at 23 years of age, into the hall. And that’s where I snapped and broke down. How is it that my friend who was so full of life is lying in that seemingly-tiny coffin covered by a black material with a gold magen david on it. Surreal.

Unfortunately, Cliff was denied a full police funeral. After the rabbi said the eulogy, and read things that people wrote on Cliff’s FB group, a guard of honour was set up, and police men took him out as pallbearers, and a few steps later more police men took him, and so the exchange continued, now with others who took the honour of taking him to his grave.

We stopped at this lovely spot, so shady, so peaceful and relaxing. Cliff’s brother, Matt, said yartzheid, the rabbi said more prayers and then…. Cliff’s grandfather picked up the shovel. That first thud of the soil hitting the solid coffin, is indescribable. As it hit, I took a deep, shaky breath in, and all my emotions were released through my tears. To see a much older man, fragile, weakly putting sand in the shovel and letting it fall onto the coffin of the man I loved – still do love– his grandson who should have surpassed him in life and did not tore me to pieces. Then others took their turn, and filled up the sides and the top. More prayers – the sound of the man’s voice sifting through the people, through the environment, heartfelt, my pounding heart filled with love, and relief. And then it started to rain, and I lifted my head up to the grey-filled clouds, and I laughed so. Cliff. He always got the last laugh…. And then those who wanted to fill the grave with their last respects to Constable Clifford Seth Hoffmann could do so, and all I am thinking is don’t bury him! Don’t bury him! I truly did not want him to be buried because …. Because what? Because I still thought he would be coming back, and they were suffocating him with the mound of muddy, deadweight soil, and he can’t breathe and just STOP! And they didn’t stop, and this deep grave filled with more and more soil, with rocks and tree roots, and a whole lot of shit, and I am just thinking not the rocks…. Not the tree roots…. Have some respect! And they didn’t. They didn’t stop. They just kept piling the soil in, taking turns to bury my soul mate, each man placing at least 3 shovels of soil before pushing the shovel into the mound of soil lying on either side, it falls, and then another pair of hands continues, and so does the process continue, and I said that I can see Cliff saying “What the fuck is taking them so long?” (I received a few dirty stares at that!) until at last… the grave is filled. And I am thinking, smooth it out, Cliff would have hated to see the soil so choppy, untidy. And then they begin to leave and I am sobbing on everyone, and hands are holding me up, and then people go. And I went to sit at the foot of his grave, and I fell to the floor on my knees and then completely, and Marc came and held me, and I just sobbed into his arms and asked why didn’t he take me with?! I just want to go with him! And I did. I wanted to lie curled up on top of his grave, and die. And I didn’t. I didn’t. And I felt so horrible saying these words while my lover, my protector, my friend held me, with snot-en-trane, and allowed me to cry. And the sun shone. And I felt it warming up my face, and I basked and felt enveloped in its glow. “It’s perfect” Mena said. Yes, it was a perfect ending… Cliff is at peace now.

We then went outside and held an impromptu police parade in his honour. Raf held it, and they did the movements for prayer. And then I fulfilled the last part of his ceremony procession and I read out “The Last Inspection” (the poem I gave to him when he completed his police reservist course) with a strong, clear voice, just as he would have liked it (although it did wobble at times) and here it is:

For Constable Clifford Seth Hoffman,

The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

“Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”

The soldier squared his soldiers and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.

I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills just got too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.

I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”

 There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgement of his God.

“Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”

I went back to the grave and spoke to him. I had a heart-to-heart moment with him. I felt so at peace to speak to him alone. I then spoke to his dad. When Cliff took me to his dad a while ago, I would never have imagined that right next to him, on the other side of the road, I would be burying Cliff. Never ever. A very scary thought. I am imagining them there, eating steak, drinking Jameson, playing pool, and laughing at us. I told his dad to keep an eye on him. He tends to cause shit wherever he goes 😀 

Much speculation has followed Cliff’s suicide. From what we have gathered, Cliff has been planning this for a very long time. A few weeks ago, he asked Hadley to ensure that should anything happen to him, his dog Cedric must go to Laura, his gun to David, and so forth. You may think we should have cottoned on that something was wrong, but only by piecing what he has said to everyone, and putting all the information together, only then did we realize.

At first I thought that something had pushed him to do it that night. But he was planning it. From what I have heard he was very happy the night before he shot himself, playing pool, and he told Paula that “This is the way I would want to spend my last day on Earth” and how true it became. They say that people do become very happy just before they commit suicide. Perhaps a sense of relief. So it was planned for that night. He spoke to people in the very early hours of the morning, and except for the BBM message he sent to Kara when he knew she was sleeping, he gave no indication. He even made plans for the rest of the week.

And although he was in a bad space, things were looking up for him. All his debt was taken away, he was happier in his job, and so forth, and I see this as the tying up of loose ends in a way. A problem was his lack of sleep, insomnia, and that leaves you with a lot of time to think. I think it made him go crazy. I regret not giving him some of the sleeping pills I had. But there is nothing more to do, I have blamed myself truly for this, but it was his decision and his decision only. He meant it, for he left even Cedric, his baby. What’s done is done. No matter how much we want to blame others because we would prefer to do that than blame ourselves, or him even, it will not bring him back.

After the funeral, we went to the Keg and spent 6 hours there. It was one of his favourite places. We drank, we made toasts in his honour, we had songs dedicated to him, we sang karaoke – Summer of ’69 which he sang for his father on his yartzheid – and we all came together and had an absolute ball! Just as he would have wanted….

I do feel at peace. Step 5 of grieving – acceptance – check. (I am constantly moving around the different stages of grief, it is not a direct link, but one which you move around them all.) I feel that he is around me, surrounding me, and that that is why I feel so calm. I do also believe that I will see him again. His soul will move into another body. He always said when he was reincarnated he wanted to be a dog. But I hope I meet him one day in another human body. But for now… he is at peace.

My dearest Cliff, I know you hate us to see so sad. You have taught us to truly appreciate the friends we have around us. As difficult as it is to be around them without you, we will keep your honour. I love you.

In order to ensure Cliff’s legacy lives, I have vowed to name my son Seth when he is born one day. I am also looking into getting a tattoo so he lives within me, as he does now in my heart.

Honesty…. Integrity…. Respect.

I have placed a few pictures, that are so special to me. If you have anymore that you would like me to add, please send them to me.

If any of you have stories to share, please comment in the comment section under this post. I would so love to know how much you all loved him. I only truly wish he knew himself.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. I have no words my friend. You honour my brother greatly with your love and friendship. He would not want us to mourn him Tim, he would want s to carry on, drink whisky, play pool, laugh, love.
    (((hugs))) my friend!!

    Reply

  2. I have no words Tim – I really am so sorry 😦

    Reply

  3. I am a friend of Gina….. My very best friend died in a freak accident when we were 25…..and another close, dear friend took his own life some five years ago. I understand, I know the feelings you describe and I feel guilt for what I should have done also.

    I wish you…..peacem x

    Reply

  4. Posted by Dean on January 27, 2011 at 20:51

    This hurt me deeply he was a great friend I remember when he used to live down the road from me and how I would arrive at his house asking if he had a plaster after i had rolled down the hill in roller blades. If one of us wasn’t battered or bruised then the other one was. Cliff I will miss you my friend , my brother!!!!

    Honesty, Integrity, Respect

    Reply

  5. Posted by Cst N.Gerasch on January 27, 2011 at 20:59

    Great blog Tim, we are all sad of the loss of Cliff, but in the same breath we cannot sit and be sad. Cliff would of wanted everyone he knew to carry on to the enth degree, whiskey, pool, police.
    Cliff will always be there looking down at us all, saying cheers every night we on the piss, saying gomfor that shot while playing pool. He will never be forgotten.

    Reply

  6. Posted by sheena van niekerk on January 27, 2011 at 21:26

    Don’t think there will ever be words we would say that could bring him back, if there was I would do it n an heartbeat. He was very special to everyone and will be loved forever. This was an amazing tribute to him tim, wow I’m speechless. In most of it I saw that you feeling the exact same as I am as I’m sure most people are. Thank you for summing up all the feeling feels good to read them.

    Reply

  7. ((hugs)) I can only imagine how you’re feeling.

    Reply

  8. ((Big hugs)) my friend, thinking of you, and keeping you in my prayers.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Moira Guttenberg on January 28, 2011 at 09:59

    An amazing Eulogy.Beautiful words truly spoken from the heart.

    Reply

  10. Posted by ruby on January 29, 2011 at 14:19

    My twin brother took his life when we were 17. I’ve been following Cliff’s story recently. It’s made me a mess all over again. I wish Marc and Paul a lot of strength to support you + Gina thru what will not be an easy next few years.

    Reply

  11. Posted by lindy on January 29, 2011 at 18:58

    Timmi thank you I wish I too could put my pain in words..my baby is gone may he rest in peace with his Daddy..my heart is bleeding..I loved him so much

    Reply

  12. Imagine to lose a son and a grandson. So sad.
    I read a Brian Weiss book on Soulmates long ago where he talks about Soulmates travelling together through lives and I won’t assume that you believe in reincarnation, but it pulled me through
    a very hard time of my life.
    All the best.

    Reply

  13. beautiful written.

    Reply

  14. So touching and so beautifully written. This piece had me in tears. I am so sorry for your loss and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time.
    Sending you hugs and lots and lots of love and light.
    xxx

    Reply

  15. i love it

    Reply

  16. your good

    Reply

  17. […] think since Cliff’s death I have been sinking downwards slowly. Watching life drifting pass as an agonizingly slow pace, […]

    Reply

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