Despite the constant bombardment of bad news about the state of the world, I was actually very zen through the last year and a half. Until today. Today someone I care about very much posted his family's story on Facebook and I got very, very angry. If y'all know me, you know that once I perceive an injustice I usually have to do something about it. So I'm posting Riz's story here, to help him get the word out about Atlas Air and what they did to his family. These are Riz's words, unedited. I must warn you, some of what you are about to read is very disturbing and somewhat graphic.
It's been 2 months today since my 31st birthday:
The day that I should have celebrated my life anniversary.
The day I woke-up in good spirits.
The day I thought I missed a bunch of missed calls from my mom thinking it was her early chance (6:30 am) at wishing me a Happy Birthday.
The day returning her missed calls only to hear her wailing in the background.
The day it was someone else who picked up.
The day I found out that "someone" was a detective telling me I needed to come home ASAP because my father had committed suicide.
The day a new chapter of my life began…
Everyone dealt with the pandemic differently, but everyone got an unhealthy exposure to what it did to them mentally. My father was a proud man and a very generous one. A man who donated more money than he should. A man who put everyone ahead of himself. A man who unfortunately slipped into the depression bubble years ago. A man who refused to seek help. A man who slipped into an even darker place from the pandemic.
I hope to never understand what he was going through in his final moments…
I've been very shut off from the world grieving in my own way. Stuck in my own head. And making plenty of mistakes that I'm holding myself accountable for in every way. It's been a very interesting journey that I am still going through. I've learned the beauty of life and how we should live it to the fullest. That family and friends should be placed at the pedestal of priorities. To enjoy the little things and not be so hard on myself for life is beautiful. I am now part of the suicide survivors club - a club I hope none of you ever get to be a part of.
Through this journey, I've gotten to see the blessing and curse of seeing people for who they are. I've been on the frontlines of seeing the superficiality of people I once called "friends" who shut themselves off from me when I needed them most. I've seen people who I am barely close with extend a greater hand than I expected. That meant more to me than you guys (you know who you are) even know. Thank you for that. There are such beautiful people in the world that I never gave the chance spill into my world. I have a forever altered perspective. I'm sure I would have gotten to witness this beautiful act of authenticity if I had communicated what happened earlier. I just couldn't. So I just want to give a head's up that I am not putting blame on anyone if this is new news. And for family and friends he reached out to prior to his departure from the world, thank you for accepting his apologies in mending his relationship and loose ends with you. For family and friends that turned their backs when he wanted your help, please do NOT be hard on yourselves. It was not your fault, and me nor my family blame you in any way. It was ungrasp-worthy to understand his pain and cries for help. I couldn't until his after death.
My dad worked for a huge cargo airline, Atlas Air, and he was mighty proud and good at his job. The day before his death, we received news that he was being let go because borders were closed and they found workarounds to virtualize his job. It was also a day we discovered that my mom would need open heart surgery. "My benefits…your mother…. What am I going to do?" Those words are forever imprinted in my head.
The HR rep was extremely professional, communicated a stingy compensation and benefits package. You see, my father handed me the phone because he was in such disbelief of the situation. 9 years at a company, not one vacation day did he take… I understood. I worked in Corporate America all my life so it wasn't too much of a shock for me to see how normal it was to "toss" someone out when that someone poured his entire devotion into a company.
Friends of my Facebook, I can use your help and ear if you have gotten this far. But first, some additional context (it will get semi graphic):
After hearing the detective, I ragdolled into paralysis mirroring my mother's pleads and cries for help. If there was a God, I needed him more than ever to give me strength to carry on my miserable birthday that I should have been celebrating and drove to my childhood home….
I saw more than I should. I saw camera phones, nosy neighbors, onlookers walking their children to the preschool across the street. I saw crime scene tape. A forensic team outside my parent's building. I saw the blood and I saw his body.
My father had jumped 8 stories to his death 2 hours before. That image will never leave me. But it will not haunt me. I saw the peace that had overtaken his face.
I've reached out to Atlas Air, who sent our family a beautiful plant and sympathetic gift basket. But they deferred me to their legal team when I reached out for the promised compensation package.
On high level, they overnighted the separation agreement that needed his signature if he was to get what they promised. That package came 6 hours after his death. Here's what they responded with:
Atlas Air legal team: "For the severance and health insurance benefits you asked about, those were offered by the Company in exchange for your dad’s execution of the Separation Agreement and Release sent to him via email (and overnight mail) on his last day of employment. Unfortunately, since the Separation Agreement and Release the Company provided to your dad was not executed before he passed away, there are no severance and insurance benefits available."
I'm hoping you're pulling your hairs in disbelief from this response. I certainly did. What did they want? His bloody fingerprint? That's what I rebuked with, and got no return. It's funny how they keep the spit coming at his grave.
Is there anyone on my network here that can help me in any way? I just want what's rightfully my father's. Any journalists/lawyers that have an interest in the story?
Thank you all for hearing me out. It's a beautiful day to be alive
If you can help Riz please message me on Facebook and I will put you in touch with him. Thanks, y'all.