Friday, May 6, 2016

What are you afraid of?

As a mother, I want to share her story.  I want someone to allow me to share the loss our community has endured. This was not just a lost soul or a lost cause-she was my child, my baby, my everything and she saved my life. She was the reason to live and to better myself in life.  Unless you were close to our family, the loss only seems like another sad event. It’s hard to perceive or understand or even grasp the utter catastrophic magnitude of what suicide loss really is yet this is becoming so many families’ realities. My circle of family has grown two fold because of one single act that links us all. We share the magnitude of our loss and the method is suicide.  In a moment you have everything and in a flash it’s all gone with just a blink of an eye.  That Thursday morning was like any other morning before. I got up, got ready and went to work. Around 1pm, Sara text me and I replied. Nothing and I mean NOTHING indicated trouble. Nothing out of the normal teenager behavior such as playing on iphone and listening to music or staying up late because it was the summer.  After all, I had lived through some of the worst times in my life. I lost my father to mental illness when I was 8 years old. The disease killed him in less than a year and yes the method was suicide. It destroyed my mother and my family. My mother tried to save him but it was too late.  Our family divided fought to stay together but ended in shattered relationships still to this day broken.
Fast forward 27 years. We had it all.   I had a great new career, amazing friends, loving family, beautiful and smart daughter,  married the love of my life, had the blessing of becoming a bonus mom to an adorable little boy, Sara had an amazing dad and now a bonus dad as well. Life couldn’t have been any better.  You won’t find two separated parents who got along better than Sara’s dad and me. We really had everything we wanted. Our life was what I would call “perfectly imperfect” In the turning of a door handle, my world shattered, crumbled to nothing. Everything I ever knew was gone and I was frozen in time. It was like I was watching this horror movie from the front row. I could tell that it was me but I couldn’t change any of the outcomes. My voice that used to be loud, powerful, and command attention was now this little soft voice of a child…screaming and crying for this nightmare to stop.  I can still hear the screams, my screams to this day in my mind. This day, this moment will forever be burned into my soul, the very essence of who I am now.  I will never forget that moment.

After months of therapy and EMDR treatment, I have given myself permission to cloud that last memory I have of my precious angel. At first, I felt like I had to hold on to this memory for dear life. After all I was the only one who had found her that day, I was the one who couldn’t save her.  Even if it would eat away at whatever pieces of my former self were left, I felt like I had to cling to this last memory of her. I had this thought that if I forgot that moment, then people would forget her and if they forgot her…I would not survive. How could I survive the loss of the only thing that gave my life purpose? Sometimes the image flashes into my head without permission and without resistance, I find myself crippled as if it was that exact moment all over again. Frozen between what is real and what is past.  I have spent months training my brain to allow my picture perfect memory I have, to be altered.  I often find myself shaking my head as the memory lingers in my thoughts. It’s like shaking me back to reality that this is real but I am not trapped in that moment. I try to keep from allowing myself to relive that exact moment and instead I try to focus on a moment that she lived or a moment that she laughed.  The magnitude of the loss will never change, I will forever have part of who I am destroyed…shattered into a million of unrecognizable pieces. The pieces of who I am now are transformed. Some pieces died that day, some pieces of who I am are lost forever and some pieces are so badly damaged that only death will pull them back from the depths of hell.  The people who are closest to me cling to the person I was, all while learning to love the person I have morphed into.  
For the most part, change is a good even if we don’t see the reason right at the beginning. However, this type of alteration is something that you never adapt to. I am 280 days since the last time I saw my daughter breathing and not a day goes by that every essence of who I am doesn’t beg the universe that this is not my reality. Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself what I could have done to save her.  With every day that comes and passes, I remind myself of how she lived and I find hope in that her story will change the course of someone else’s battle.  Sara had the ability to do anything she wanted in life.  Sara was going to change the world. Her kind heart, infectious smile and her ability to touch your soul was astounding at the young age of 16.  Sara was my only daughter, my best friend and my entire world. She is my only. Sara was a gifted child who spoke many languages, excelled in anything that had to do with school. She had a 4.7 GPA when she passed suddenly in July. She spent her life making others laugh and smile. She would make you cookies just to brighten your day. She never got in trouble. She wasn’t into boys or drugs. She came from a good home.  She had family who adored and loved her to no end. This is seen now in our fight to save others like Sara.  She wanted for nothing. When you saw Sara, she looked as though she had it all. What I didn’t see as her mother was that some of the struggles a teenager goes through hid the dark depression and anxiety that she was facing. She was a perfectionists but I saw this as a strength.  She died suddenly from a disease called mental illness but the method was suicide. What I didn’t see was the silent disease that ate away at her every essence of who she was. I have suffered the greatest loss a mother can go through but I still find hope in the world. Since her death, I have spent every moment of my time to save others by educating. I helped form a non-profit that brings awareness and education to teens, parents and teachers it’s called Speak Up. I created a blog to share my journey in hopes that it will help others have the conversation because what I would give to be able to ask Sara if she has ever thought about killing herself. I have testified in front of the Senate/House of Reps to get laws changed to bring mandatory suicide training to educators. I search for hope in this dark deep world that she left me in. I try to give others hope that they can find their peace after such a tragedy. Some days I get out of bed to change the world she left me in. Other days, I hide my head from the world because the reality that she is gone forever is all too much. I give myself permission to have a bad day yet I don’t stay there forever.  Every 12 minutes, we lose another to suicide. It’s an epidemic. 2nd leading cause in death ages 10-24. What are you doing to change the world? What are you doing to save your children? What are you afraid of? Speak Up and break the silence.