Saturday was the Visitation for a beautiful 19-year-old woman named Jeannee’ who had taken her own life a few days before.
There’s a link to Jeannee’s obituary on the right there. —>>>
We stood in line with probably 100 other people walking through a crowded funeral home in an effort to reach her family, standing in a receiving line of sorts near Jeanne’s closed casket. As the line crept slowly forward, I tried to imagine what I might possibly say to Jeanne’s mother Jodi, a former high school classmate, now co-worker of mine. Beautiful lady. Lost first child. Wow. Speechless. Jeannee’ was 6 months older than my oldest daughter. I desperately wanted to SAY something, yet there are no words….
When I reached Jodi, I paused and was silent a moment. What came out was, “Jodi…I’m not going to say anything. There’s nothing to say.” (I’ve also emailed her my phone number and standard and very sincere offers of “WHATEVER” you need/whatever I can do to help, please call me.) She reached to hug me and thanked me for coming and moved on to her next guest. I hugged the rest of the receiving line and turned to leave. When I reached the exit, I recognized what I believed to be Jeanne’s older sister Kristi, standing with some friends….kids that I know from their acquaintance with my daughter. Stopping to chat with them, I asked her, “Are you Kristi?” She said she was and that she remembered me…..I was that lady who worked at WalMart and sang to her mom a couple weeks ago. I’d forgotten about that! Couple weeks ago, I’d taken my girls to a Chinese buffet for lunch one Sunday afternoon, andd Jodi was there with her family. The hostess sat my substantial family next to hers. When I greeted Jodi, one of her kids mentioned that it was her birthday. I said, “Well, surely we should SING, then! C’mon over girls!” My girls came over and we all sang a boisterous round of “Happy Birthday” to Jodi. Little did I know this small gesture would give me an opening to speak to one of the kids during an awful time weeks later. (One of those “you never know where you’re going to be in two weeks” moments, isn’t it?)
So I asked Kristi if I could hug her. She reached. I hugged, well, actually, I just HELD. I told her, “I really wish I could just hold you for like months and somehow protect you, but I guess that’s not possible.” I talked to her about the importance of talking to the people who love her, and never feel like she’s “bothering” people and the great importance of drinking WATER through this time. Eating’s important, too, yeah….but water is even MORE important, and easily neglected. I charged her fiance with keeping her hydrated.
THEN I left, went home, went to work…..tried to think about other things. Have had little success in the “thinking about other things” department.
This horrible event has re-ignited something in me. I’ve always had a heart for teenagers, but people, we need to talk about suicide. It’s not a nice topic, not an easy topic, but I need to talk with people about suicide. Teens, parents, everyone. Because I’m passionate about it…….because talking is right, and for my own reasons. Because I REMEMBER……
Let’s talk some more tomorrow, shall we? Let’s make a plan.