It was like any other workday at about 11:30 in the morning, I received a call from my daughter’s school, that shattered my momentary existence.
The school nurse said my daughter was there with her, after her friends came to her with concerns that my baby girl said she had thoughts of hurting herself and didn’t want to be ‘here’ anymore.
As I sat listening, I felt numb and broken all at the same time.
I don’t recall the drive from my work to the school that afternoon, I was consumed with whirling thoughts of how my perfect baby could ever feel that way and more so, how was I the last to find out?
Before this day, I was confident in my relationship with all my children.
I always felt that my honesty and open-minded approach when discussing the hard or uncomfortable topics solidified my presence and understanding in their lives.
I was sure my kids knew, without question, I was there for them, no matter what, or so, that is what I thought.
As I sat with my daughter, in the nurse’s office at her school it hit me, like a slap to the face, that no matter how many words are exchanged or how hard you convince yourself that your kids share everything with you, that just isn’t always the truth.
My daughter and I both left her school that afternoon in tears and to this day, I have never felt more helpless or afraid than I did then.
My daughter said that she thought hurting herself would ‘take the hurt away’. Those were the words she used.
She watched YouTube videos and ‘heard’ from others that cutting helps.
As her mom, knowing the beautiful and kind heart and soul she has, I was devastated that she felt so broken and helpless on the inside that she thought, for even a moment in time, that hurting or killing herself was the only way to feel better.
I sought help immediately; doing research, calling doctors and therapists, and talking to friends.
Seeking direction on what we were supposed to do next, how best to help my baby find her way, and assurance that she, and we, were going to be okay.
Statistics show that suicide in children, teens, and young adults is the second leading cause of death for those between 10-24 years of age.
That means that there are more children and young adults dying from suicide than illnesses such as; cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, and influenza. It sounds illogical to me; these statistics are too high, especially for a group of people that have so much life ahead of them.
My babies have been through their fair share of hardships, but they are surrounded by love and acceptance which made making sense of this that much more difficult.
I don’t know about you, but when I used to hear about things like this happening my first thought was always ‘that poor kid must have nobody they could have reached out to for help’ and an underlying feeling of gratefulness that that could never be one of my kids.
How wrong was I and how selfish it was of me to have established that level of comfort and certainty?
We found a counselor for my daughter and she has since completed counseling successfully.
My relationship with my daughter, and our relationships with everyone close to us has not only changed but has been strengthened and fortified by this experience.
There is no doubt or question that I am one of the lucky ones. I still get to wrap my arms around my baby girl and hold her tight. I still get to teach her and help her through the tough times. I still get to witness her beautiful smile light up her eyes.
Like most moms, I always felt I cherished all the moments with my kids but today, that looks differently.
Today, not a moment, big or small, goes by that I don’t say a quiet prayer thanking God that he didn’t take my baby girl home that day, or since.
I am sharing this because I don’t want anyone to just assume that your kids will talk and share with you.
No matter what your relationship is or what you think your relationship is, we as parents can’t allow ourselves to fall into a false sense of security.
We must be proactive, asking the difficult questions and when life gets busy we need to stop and take the time to reconnect.
I also want to praise the girls (my daughter’s two friends) who went to the nurse that day and expressed their concerns because if they hadn’t, we may be in a very different place today.
The time passes so quickly, and we can’t ever get it back.