A few weeks ago my daughter Paige wrote about her friend from High School who had passed away. This is the 2nd friend of Paige’s who has taken her own life. Last school year we heard of several teens in our area who also chose to leave this Earth too early.
This past weekend we attended a memorial service for her friend here in Nebraska although her friend was laid to rest in Florida. I knew that this would be very emotional for Paige to attend, not only because it was her friend who passed away, but also because she wasn’t able to tell anyone that she was attending this service as it was by invitation only.
The service was held outside at a small farm that is in the middle of two housing areas that we live near. Without realizing it, we drive by this farm several times a week but have never noticed it until Saturday. Paige’s friend attended church and many of their congregation and friends from the church were in attendance.
As Paige and I walked on to the property, she was greeted so warmly by one of her school friends. They held on to one another for a few moments and I had to walk away so they wouldn’t see my tears. We began our way over to a table that had a display of pictures and memories on it along with a video with photos. A beautiful piano played in the background. I almost felt like I was at a celebration and then as I turned around I remembered why I was really there.
A beautiful mom, surrounded by people, stood behind us with a tissue box in her hand greeting the guests who came to pay their respects. Paige and I waited in line to say hello and as soon as I introduced myself her mom knew exactly who Paige was. There wasn’t much we could say. What do you say to someone who has lost their child? The only thing I could mutter was “We are so sorry for your loss”.
Underneath a big beautiful tree was where Paige and I decided to sit for the service. We watched many people who we didn’t know sit alongside us, in tears, as we waited for the service to begin. The trees began to blow and you could even hear birds and quail making their joyful sounds.
As the service began, several teens from her church, friends and family spoke about this beautiful girl. Even her little brother tried to speak. His sweet voice and the memories of his sister started our tears to flow. One of Paige’s friends who sat next to me began to weep. I wasn’t even sure which teen to comfort first. At the end of the service, they released 15 butterflies, one for each year of her friend’s life. Even before the release an already wandering butterfly sat on her brother’s hand and wouldn’t leave. I hope that her brother felt God’s love at that very moment, something permanent that will never go away.
Paige and I left that day full of tears and hurt for the family. I don’t know what her friend was going through exactly. We know some of the details, but I have to ask myself “What could I have done to help?”
There are some things I DO know for sure. We’ve always taught our kids not to tease or bully others because you don’t know what they are going through. You never know when someone is going to “crack”. I also know from experience that when someone is in mental or even physical pain, they don’t think of others around them. They are so surrounded by the thoughts and feelings going on in their hearts and minds that they can’t think outside of that mind frame.
I have been in a place like her friend – many times. The last time was over 10 years ago. As my husband drove our car down a busy highway, I had my hand on the door to open it – to jump out to my death. What stopped me? Why did I change my mind? I remembered that in the backseat of the car were 3 young children who would have watched their mom die and have to live with that.
I know it doesn’t make sense – suicide, depression and anxiety – but what does make sense is that there are so many people around us that care and love us, who want to help, guide and walk alongside us. Instead of turning away from those who have these feelings, what if we surrounded them with love, kindness and prayer?
For Paige’s friend, she had some things happen that we can’t comprehend or understand on Earth. We do know that she didn’t tell Paige or her friends what was going on. The pain that has been caused is irreversible and someday her friends and family will be able to take small steps toward healing.
If you are ever in this type of pain, will you please, please let someone know?
The song below is one that I listen to over and over again. It reminds me that God loves me forever and how He carries me on His wings.
***As I read this blog to my daughter today, it didn’t occur to me that she had not heard “my story” from years ago in our car ride home. Her life would be so different today if I had let the pain overtake me. Thanking God for teachable moments like this.