I read a story about suicide today and it got me thinking about some of the loss I had personally dealt with because of it. I have lost four people to suicide so I know how hard it is for those left behind. I’ve decided to focus on just one, my hope is I won’t jump around too much.
In my junior year of high school I decided I would join the military as soon as I graduated. When I say I decided that may not be entirely accurate, a better description was a Judge and I decided. I began drinking heavily in the sixth grade after losing my brother to suicide. I remember I just didn’t want to feel. I tried and tried to drink the pain a way, while this would work for a while it was no long term solution. I would eventually sober up and the pain would just come rushing back.
Having decided to join the military I had the option of my junior summer of going to boot camp. I knew this would just about kill my entire summer so I had some choices to make. I had been dating a girl named Kim. I was head over heals in puppy love but, I decided I’d give her the option of seeing other people while I was away for the summer. I explained I would be gone almost the entire summer and I didn’t expect her to just wait a round. We talked things over and decided not to breakup. She said she would wait for me and that was actually quite a relief.
So off to boot camp I went, got a free hair cut and a lot of green clothes. Boot camp was a shock to say the least, but the structure was nice. I had never really had any structure in my life. In what spare time I had, I would write home. I would write my parents but mostly I would write Kim. I didn’t have much free time and I remember living for mail call. It was always great to get a letter, they really help take my mind off being so far from home.
Finally enough time had past and it was time to graduate from boot camp. I was just so excited at the idea of going home. I couldn’t wait to see friends I had missed all summer. I don’t remember much about the plane ride home but think it was about six in the evening when I got there. I remember several of my buddies coming to the airport to pick me up.
We got back to my house and one of my friends had broke the news to me. He told me he had slept with Kim while I was gone. He was pretty tore up about it, I think I was actually in shock over the whole thing. I remember a short time later Kim called and said she wanted to see me. I told her what I had heard and that I needed some time to process. I was pretty hurt at the both of them. So like I always did I decided I would go out with the guys and drink my pain away.
I remember getting ready to go out, back then all the guys wore starched jeans so I was ironing my jeans getting ready to go. I had made a few phone calls and got the booze situation all lined out. A few more friends had showed up at my house and it was almost time to head out for a night on the town. The phone rang, it was Kim. I told my buddy to tell her I just needed some time. Before I could get out the door the phone rang again. Again it was Kim, this went on a couple of times. Finally the phone rang once more and I answered it, it was Kim. I by this time was very angry so I told her to drop dead.
So I’m out with the guys drinking my pain away, when a friend of my named Gabe shows up. Gabe is a huge guy with an even bigger heart but I had never seen him cry before. He had tears in his eyes when he met me. I knew something was wrong and he could barely speak. He finally managed to get the words out, Kim is dead. Everything seen surreal, it didn’t seem like it could be happening. How and why ? Gabe put me in his car and started telling me what had happened.
He told me that she had overdosed. Kim was epileptic and had taken to many of her meds. I know I was in shock by the time he drove me to her house. We got to her house and from the outside I could hear the crying. Gabe and I walked up, this seemed like it was a ten mile hike. We got to the door and her father answered it, he took one look at me an slapped me. I don’t blame him, he had just lost his daughter. I’m not exactly sure what happened next but I know things calmed down and her mother told me how it happened.
I remember the feeling of shock, what do you tell someone that just lost their daughter. There are no words I could say that would bring her back. Her mother told me that she had taken too many pills and she had died writing me a letter. She told me there would be an autopsy but the medical examiner had ruled it an overdose.
I remember the next few days as just a blur until the funeral. Her family had asked that I ride with them in the funeral procession. I remember that while I was a boot camp I had got a bracelet for her. My plan was to give it to her when I got back. I brought the bracelet with me to the funeral, I had engraved on it Love always Daryl. At the funeral when it was time for me to pass by the casket I reached down and placed it on her wrist. I don’t remember what happened exactly after that just that I had fallen to my knees and was crying. I know someone helped me up and got me to the car.
I lived with a lot of guilt after that for a long time. I blamed myself for what had happened. I eventually got to read the letter she was writing me. I know in my heart that she didn’t really want to kill herself, she was just screaming for attention. I don’t think my entire senior year I had a sober breath. Again I just didn’t want to feel, so much pain.
I learned some very tough lessons through all that happened. Please never, never say words that hurt out of anger. You may not have a chance to take them back. I didn’t know God back then, I tried to shoulder the weight of this myself and I almost didn’t make it. I almost died many times myself before coming to know Jesus as Lord and saviour. I have tried all the things this world has to offer and the pain never lessened, it wasn’t until I met Jesus that I found peace. I know it is by the grace of God alone that I’m here. I don’t have all the answers on why everything happened but I know my Lord is sovereign.
I will always have the scars of what I’ve been through, and the scars are part of who I am. My scars give testimony to the grace of God. Lord you have restored me, you have given me a life full of joy and love. My hope and prayer is this: Lord I pray that those hurting or lost would find comfort in you. I pray they would know they are not alone. I pray that they would turn to you Lord. Lord I pray they would know they are loved and there is healing in you. Lord open their hearts and ears that they would find salvation through the blood of Christ.
I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.