A BIG SIGH of relief …

I woke up this morning feeling something I hadn’t in a very long time. RELAXED. Sidney has been home from college for about a month now. George graduated from high school last night. Libs and Reese have their last day of school today. Our absolutely exhausting, unpredictable, and stressful school year is OVER. There were many times when I wondered if we were going to make it out of this one unscathed by our circumstances. It was a tough one. This past week one particularly memory has come to mind time and time again.

I was just recently out of the hospital. On top of everything else my vision was terrible even with my glasses on. Between the medications and being so sick everything was just a blur. But there George and I were, sitting in front of his computer finishing up his college applications. I remember thinking HOW? How exactly are we going to get from HERE to THERE? And what if we didn’t? The worry was incredible. So much “hinged on” those applications. Too much to even imagine the loss. He needed my guidance. He needed my help. No excuse was good enough. It all had to get done and it had to get done then. His future wasn’t going to wait for me to feel better and for me to see clearly again. So we did what we had to do and got them done despite our obstacles.

And here we are. Many months later. Sid home for summer and soon to be entering her Junior year in college. Libs with a Distinguished Scholar Award for keeping a 4.0 her Freshman year. My Reese thriving and ready to take on 2nd Grade. And George, a high school graduate leaving for college in just two short months. I can’t believe we got from THERE to HERE. Their resilience amazes me. They persisted and it all paid off. We made it. THEY made it.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you breathe a BIG SIGH of relief!!!

Suicide … 

Something terrible happened today. 

Sidney’s photography teacher was found dead in her classroom after she committed suicide by hanging. She was found by another teacher and several students. The details that followed after are available to read on internet news. I just can’t bring myself to write them all out. But suffice it to say that it was awful and I am abundantly thankful that G3 was across campus in class and that Sid was two doors down. Neither of them saw what occurred.

G3 didn’t know the teacher. He was shaken by the events but was more concerned about his sister’s wellbeing. He knew this would be hard on her. And it is. This teacher was a mentor to her. Sid loves photography and this teacher made her love it even more. Sid’s heart is broken, along with many, many others.

As a social worker and therapist I can fully understand the processes behind suicide and how a person can get to THAT point. Normally I feel empathy in these situations. Even respect for the courage it takes for someone to say, “Sorry God, but I’m done.”
Especially in medically assisted suicides where selfless decisions are made for the good of the ones they love. I certainly don’t condone suicide, but I get it.

I am also a believer that our days are numbered. It’s all part of the God debate that I have no intentions of getting into today. What I believe is that, whether she committed suicide or was in a car accident, today was going to be this woman’s last day.

Whatever her reasons were for the choices she made today are her’s and her’s alone. And although I don’t like to speculate, mental illness appears to have played a role here. She openly spoke about her father’s suicide and was very active in teaching students about suicide prevention. In the presence of true mental illness or not she clearly was not in a mental state that was healthy or safe. She was in a state of mind that she tried to help so many others avoid. There is so much irony and tragedy in what I just wrote, it’s mind boggling.

But … I am bothered. I am angry. And my following rant is not me just picking on a dead mentally ill woman. I would never do that. I worked with severely mentally ill patients for many years. I have a special place in my heart for them and the torment they experience. It is no joke. Mental illness is real and devastating if not treated. So if my feelings here offend anyone, I just don’t care.

But first, let’s discuss anger. Anger is part of the grief reaction and very normal. If you don’t believe me just look up the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross or any other expert in the area of death and dying. This event hit very close to home and hurt many children, mine included. My anger does not diminish the gravity of this teacher’s illness or meant to shame her. It’s my reaction to the reality that she left her students and community to deal with. That being said, here goes.

I believe suicide tells a story. Often letters are left by victims to explain their actions. The level of violence used is explored by professionals to gain insight into the victim’s state of mind. Many aspects and details are looked at in an attempt to understand WHY the victim did what they did. But regardless of whether or not all the pieces of the story are uncovered, it remains a story without a happy ending. Family and friends are left devastated in the wake of one’s dark emotional suffering. A true tragedy for all … and totally preventable.

Her story didn’t need to end this way today. But it did. And she ended it in such away that she exposed children to severe emotional trauma. She chose to end her life in the very place she was teaching young formidable minds not to do such a thing. And she chose a time that she would likely be discovered by those same students. She knew, very well, the pain left behind as a result of suicide. She lived it. But yet today, she allowed many children to suffer because of what she did and where she did it. Could mental illness have clouded her judgement? Absolutely. Did it? No one will ever really know now. But I do know that I am angry that she left her students with such a confusing message.

My anger does not dismiss the tragedy of this teacher’s death or her inability to feel she could continue on with her life. All of it is insurmountably horrible. What her family, friends and, my God, her mother must be going through is utterly heartbreaking.

BUT … I mourn the innocence lost by her students who just wanted to come to class this morning. All they wanted, all they expected was a typical day at school. But what they got was an image of their beloved teacher, who hung herself in her classroom. You know, the teacher who diligently taught them that suicide wasn’t an answer.

Sadly, now THAT is the ending to her story. And yes, it makes me just a little bit angry.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you found some peace of mind!!!

Roar …

My H-Crew goes back to school next Tuesday … BIG SIGH. Yes, I am one of THOSE parents who actually gets sad at even the thought of them returning to school. And now … the reality of it all, is here.

I promise myself every year that I WILL NOT get upset, but I can’t help it. I love my kids and our time together always makes me happy … well … when they aren’t driving me nutso, HA!

I was doing pretty good this year, trying to get caught up in their excitement of going back to school. The busyness of registration, booster meetings and school shopping helped. Aside from few more purchases they are ready to start the new school year. So, today I set aside to finish up back to school chores. I finished washing the rest of their new school clothes. I labeled backpacks and gym clothes. I looked up some new recipes for easy weeknight dinners and got cookie requests. I always start the year off baking a batch of cookies each week for them to put in their lunches. And I basically prepared our house for the craziness that will begin in just 6 days.

… and that’s when it all started to make me … sad. The actual moment that pushed me over from excited to sad was when I was hanging up Reese’s new shirt that we bought for her to wear on the first day of school. On it, is just one word. But it embodies everything I want for them this school year … and life.

I want them to grab life by the collar and loudly and boldly proclaim:

I AM NOT EVER GIVING UP!

I WILL NEVER BE BROKEN OR BECOME BITTER!

…and NOTHING AND NO ONE WILL EVER STOP ME FROM MAKING MY DREAMS COME TRUE!

… yeah … it was at that moment when I got a little sad … but it was also the same moment when I became completely fired up to see them conquer their worlds.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you ROAR!!!