Wednesday, 21 September 2011

15 Years: Remembering Jonathan Corking

Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Today marks the 15th anniversary of my brother’s death.  He would have been 33 this year, but we only got him for 17 years.

I’ve written about my gorgeous baby brother Jonathan before, you can see the entries here and here.

But today, 15 years since that awful day, I thought I’d share a wonderful story that warms my heart every single time I read it. It begins a few years ago, when my Mum stumbled upon a website for Tourette’s Syndrome (you may already know, Jonathan was a sufferer and we believe the symptoms of which and his suicide were inextricably linked).

A little history – not long after Jonathan’s death, our family sponsored a Tourette’s Syndrome seminar in Waterloo, in partnership with Dr. Mort Doran (Tourette’s expert) and Shane Fistell (Tourette’s patient, and motivational speaker.) We thought that it would help explain things for his friends and classmates, and help them come to terms with their loss.

Fast forward over ten years later, to my Mum surfing around the internet for news of Shane and Dr. Doran, and she stumbled upon a website called “Life’s A Twitch”, founded by Duncan McKinley, a registered Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, practicing with children and adolescents in the areas of clinical and school psychology – AKA one of Canada’s leading TS experts. She felt moved by what she read, and decided to contact Dr McKinley. What follows is their email exchange.

------ Original Message ------
Subject: T.S.
From: Janet Corking
To: Duncan McKinley
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 11:59

Hello Duncan. I don’t have a question, rather a letter for you to tell my

story. Even after 11 years its good to 'offload'.
My son Jonathan committed suicide in Sept 1996. He was in the process of being diagnosed with TS (after self-diagnosing). He was very depressed. I met Dr. Doran when he came to Waterloo Ed Centre in January 1997 to host a seminar with money raised after Jonathan's death. He and another young man (his name escapes me at the moment) he was from Toronto. The two of them helped to edcuate the children and the teachers in our community about TS. I guess I just wanted to say to you that if i have one regret, its that you werent a little older and were in the place where you are now you could, i am sure have helped Jonathan with his struggles. I follow the TS stories and developements in research and if i had only known then what I know now.......... We as a family have learned a lot this past 11 years, healed a bit, and reflected a lot. I thank you for your efforts to educate the world about TS and helped make people more tolerant of this disorder.

Sincerely, Janet Corking. Cambridge Ontario.

And this is Dr. McKinlay's reply:

----- Original Message -----
From: "McKinlay, Duncan"
To: Corking, Janet
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: T.S.


I'm so sorry to learn of your loss, but am honoured that you felt comfortable in sharing with me. Allow me to share something with you now which I hope helps with your "one regret"...

While it was during my undergraduate years that I learned about my own TS, and while I did some first tentative talks on it in my 4th year, it wasn't until my first year of graduate school that I really became involved in the TS cause via the TSFC and made the decision to work in this field. What caused me to first "meet" the TSFC, and launched me into everything subsequent, was my attendance at a seminar held by Dr. Mort Doran and Shane Fistell.

In Waterloo.

In January 1997.

Made possible through funds raised from Jonathan's death.

Thank ME? To the contrary -- it's nice to finally know who I have to thank for MY life path...

Your son did not die in vain. His parting gift to the world was me.

I wish you and your family well in your continued healing. Take good care, Janet.


To mark the anniversary of Jonathan’s death, I have set up a donations page with help from the kind folks over at CanadaHelps – if you feel inclined, please join me in making a donation in Jonathan’s memory. I have chosen three charities: The Tourette’s Syndrome Foundation of Canada, The Tourette’s Syndrome Association of Ontario and the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

You can find the page by clicking here, or pasting this link into your web browser: 

Thank you, on behalf of our whole family.  Please use the comments field to share your favourite memories of Jonathan; I'm sure my Mum and Dad would love to hear your stories of him.

8 people had something to say about this...:

The Sentimental Suitcase said...

Dear Nicola and her parents and her whole family,

Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I didn't know Jonathan but from knowing Nicola and reading about him I can gather he was a wonderful young man. I am so sorry for your loss all those years ago and your continued pain.
I hope one day to be as strong aand wonderful mother as Nicola and her Mum.

Rion said...

Incredible. It's amazing how we impact others in this world, I know it's shallow consolation but I hope you can take some comfort in the fact that Jonathan touched more people's lives than you can imagine and his spirit will live on.

syl said...

Nicola, you need to stop making me cry at work. Will send you a little email later... xo

Tanya said...

I remember he was into karate and had six-pack abs when he was like in grade 6 or! I really only remember him as your clever younger brother..but I know he was world's more than that.
I love you and your family and I will definitely share this post.

Lis said...

You are such a brilliant and insightful person. I am blurry eyed as I write this comment. It never ceases to amaze me how intrinsicly interwoven humanity is. We may never know the impact that we have on the rest of our world and then again, maybe one day we will. If we are open to it, every experience can have a transcending impact on our life. It will not be immediate and it cannot be forced but we are left with an infinite amount of possibility.
In saying that I know that there were times in my life that I was not open to that idea and now times that I can recognize it.
I did not know Jonathon, but I feel so priviliged to know his impact, his presence and his influence on a person I consider so very important. Thank you for another piece of such a magnificent tapestry which is you!

Mammy P said...

Thanks everyone... I'm feeling the love, so, so blessed. xoxo

Dave Almond said...

What a story, Nic. That's incredible. I still miss Jon every day. Whether it was just wandering around town or sitting around in your livingroom making Spoons howl to the sound of the train-whistle, we were never not having a good time.

Lynn said...

Such a sad yet incredible story...I did the ugly cry. Thanks for sharing, Nic (and hope Jude is doing better).