How many of you ever go through your text messages and delete old ones to clear some space on your phone?
Ok, so maybe i’m a little neurotic; or you and i are in the same boat.
It was mid-morning on this Saturday in June, and i was doing this very thing. Scrolling and deleting messages when i came across the last communication i ever shared with a friend. It stopped me cold in my tracks. I looked at the date and time. I remembered sitting in traffic at a red light, about 11 cars deep trying to process. I had just gotten a call from another friend sharing an update.
“The doctors only give her about 3–6 months.”
She didn’t want any visitors or phone calls. I hated what she was facing. I had been struggling with the news for a day before finally sending a simple text. I wanted to be respectful of her wishes and privacy. But i tried to make sure she knew there were people all around her that cared.
Four days later, a text from a random number chimed on my phone. My friend was no longer with us. “She passed last night. Her father and boyfriend were with her.”
I knew she was in the final stretch with her battle. She’d beaten cancer off at least another two times in the last five or so years. Prior to this, she watched her mother battle this very thing. She was down there in the trenches loving her mother with everything she had. Once the dust settled and she tried to get back up, she began painting again. Some of the most amazing works she produced came after her mothers passing. There was soul-searching, an exploration of why. A struggle to capture the beauty and cruelty of life.
She was a fighter for sure.
She fought for herself, but she fought for those around her as well. She made the lives of those around her better. She helped people smile brighter and from deeper down in their being. Which in turn, helped that joy burn more brilliant than they thought possible. She was a spirit you don’t get to see very often. It sucks to have lost her. It sucks to lose people to disease, illness, and cancer.
It sucks even worse to lose people to suicide. When they can’t go on and give up. I’ve not personally lost anyone to suicide, but I’ve had friends lose loved ones this way. This year we’ve lost far too many people to suicide. Far more of us struggling. Battling self-worth, happiness, and a sense they belong. Just this week the spotlight shown on Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Not knowing either of them, i know of their success. I scratch my head thinking they had it all. The next thought entering my mind is, “Yeah, so. They’re human too. Just like the rest of us.” It caused me to look closer to home. Are any of my friends struggling and putting on a “happy face?”
I know people are dealing with their demons daily. I’ve talked with some who shared that their demons were bestowed on them by their families, parent, and siblings. Others have had friends turn their backs and walk out. The daily onslaught of “i’m not good enough” digested from social media. Even the evening news shows us the world falling apart. It’s all fuel. Can you see how some get to the end of their rope? What i don’t understand is why don’t take the time to be there for them, along the way, before they get to this point.
I’d like to believe that my friend got my text.
I had the opportunity to reach out and tell my friend i loved her. I knew what she was facing. I knew there was limited time. How many more of our friends and family are facing something they feel they can not overcome alone? Far more than we think. Except we don’t have a “countdown timer” to get our attention. So take the time to ask and wait for them to be honest. Look and pay attention when they open and share. Listen, don’t fix. Ask again. Don’t stop asking. Be there. Make sure they know you’re there, willing to listen and support them. Make space for them in your life.
Shortly after i found my text, i listened to Mark Brickey’s podcast called “Wake Up Call.” Today’s episode rang my bell, hard. He talked about the people he’s lost to suicide. People are struggling & hurting all around us. Most wear smiles on our faces, but we can’t see them cause our faces are stuck in our phones, or we are to wrapped up in our own lives to care. Do some searching and thinking about your friends. Let them know you love them.
If you’re wearing a mask and struggling, i stand with Mark, hit me up. There is no reason to feel alone. Regardless of how you’re feeling.
Give Mark’s episode a listen. It was a wake-up call i think more of us could learn from it and help one another.
I found this article tonight as i was getting ready to post these thoughts. It might be helpful if you find yourself in a conversation with someone struggling with suicide.