I wish I could describe the love of a mother, for those that don’t know first hand. There is a moment when your child is born…something physical happens. It is a love you’ve never felt before. No love you’ve ever felt for your parents, your spouse, your first love. It takes up your whole heart. And you think it could never be replicated for another child, but it is. To have your heart walking around outside of your body is a cliché, but it’s more than true. If someone asks you to choose between your child’s life, and your own, you will choose them every time. It explains how children can be so awful to their parents, and no matter what, they go on loving you.
Every moment of my day is spent worrying about what you’re doing, where you’re going. I make sure my phone is on me at all times when you’re at school, in the event that you should need me. Should something happen and I am not around, I feel nothing but guilt for not being there in your time of need.
I have had dreams for you. I have imagined you as president, world leader, ambassador, curer of cancer, veterinarian, pediatrician, paleontologist, fashion designer, famous dancer, Rockette, Disney Imagineer, marine biologist. I have probably imagined you in more jobs than you could imagine yourself.
I protect you where possible. Cushioning your blows. But life sucks at times. There’s no way around it. I can only try to equip you with a sense of humor and let you know that this too, shall pass. There is no problem too big or too small that we cannot work through together. I will not always approve your life choices. But I don’t ever want you to feel like you’ve done something I cannot forgive. That I would not support you in. If you told me you want to herd goats for a living in Afghanistan, I may advise you against it, but I will always support you. I want you to always know that no matter how bleak life looks, I will always be a shoulder for you to cry on. I will put on my pajamas with you and we will eat ice cream until our intestines rupture and we have burned all traces of that ex-boyfriends pictures. I will be there when college rejections letters come in. When the lure of drugs are introduced to you. When you can’t make your rent.
I will be there.
Suicide is an ugly word. It’s an ugly act. You always imagine it can’t happen to you. It can’t happen to people you know. It happens to families who don’t pay enough attention to their children. To families who’s children feel neglected. Those with mental illness problems. Addicts, who have no other road out. People in desperate financial straits who cannot see anything but red and final notices. People with secrets to hide that feel too big.
The truth is that suicide can happen to the perfect family. With the perfect children, who give their everything to their children, live for their children. People who are perfect parents. Parents who have been together since they were teenagers. Whose love is visible for the whole world. Suicide does not just happen in broken homes.
It does not happen only to people who have no one to love them. It does not always come with warning signs. Sometimes it happens on a clear blue day. Sometimes it happens on Christmas Eve.
Sarah, Olivia and Rosie are on Paige’s dance team. Their mom Kelley, is a permanent fixture at the dance studio. She helps with everything. The most giving person I know. She just had her 25th anniversary with her husband, who she’s been dating since high school.
She came home Christmas Eve to find her only son, and Olivia’s twin, hanging in his room. They cut him down and rushed him to one of the best hospitals in the country, only to be told that he was brain dead and there was no hope. They discussed options, and decided to donate his organs, as he had previously expressed an interest in doing should something ever happen to him.
They kept him on machines until matches could be made and teams could be assembled. And Christmas Day, Kelley and Rich pulled the life support for their only son, who turned 16 in September. I’m sure his twin will never have another birthday or Christmas when her mother is not sobbing inconsolably.
Please think about what you’re doing. Before you think you are not loved, that you are not cared for, please think about your mother having to pull the plug on you on Christmas Day. Please think about what you are doing to her for the rest of her life. The simple act of having to return your gifts to the stores…I cannot imagine….The gifts she put so much care and thought into. The gifts she wrapped and organized. The place she has for you at her table.
There is nothing you could have told your mother that she wouldn’t have accepted and helped you through.
My heart bleeds for your mother. I do not know you. I may have only seen you in the dance studio a few times. I know your sisters. I have watched them grow, admire them as dancers, your mother is amazing. When I got the news of your passing, I literally yelled out loud. I did not realize I was doing it. And then I cried. I cried for your mother, I cried for your father, I cried for your sisters, I cried especially, for Olivia, your twin. I cried for everything you could’ve been. I cried for everything you’re going to miss. I cried for every dream your parents ever had for you. I cried for every Christmas your mother will ever have to endure from now until the time of her death. And your sister’s as well, for that matter. The holiday will forever be tainted for them.
Six hundred forty eight. They started a memorial page for him, and that’s how many likes that page had in less than 24 hours. 648. 648 people you could’ve reached out to that would’ve helped you. Even if what you needed help with, was telling your parents some awful secret. 648 people who cared about you. Even if they didn’t all know you.
Please, if you are considering harming yourself, please pick up the phone and call your mother. Call your sibling. Call your best friend. Put on your favorite song and dance. Call a suicide hotline. You will not be judged, and they can give you the help you need. Don’t ever think you won’t be missed. Don’t think someone’s life wouldn’t be forever changed by your passing.
We need to take the stigma away from it. We need to stop putting suicide in a box. We need to understand that this happens in perfect families. To neighbors. To friends.
This time, this one hit far too close to home.