“Micah, this is Lana, when you get this message give me a call its very important…its very urgent that you call me as soon as possible!!” What prepares a person for that type of voicemail and the dreaded phone conversation to follow? While my mind raced with all of the possible “urgent” matters that could have happened…never would I have expected to hear that my precious little friend, Tori “Lady Bugs” Swoape had attempted suicide. The rest of the conversation was a blur as I was stumbling out of bed, trying to get dressed, rush to my car to rush to thehospital while trying my best to say the right words on the phone to her mother.
This past week has been one of the most emotional weeks of my entire life. I shed more tears in a 3-day period than I have during the past almost 33 years. Why? What caused such raw emotion from me? With all that I have experienced in my life, it seems that I would have been more “prepared” for this. I’ve been close to suicides before, attended hundreds of funerals, gave the eulogies at funerals for my own brother, father and several close friends, and informally couneled countless people during and after tragedies of all kinds.
As of writing this note, I don’t have children of my own. However, between my own nieces and nephews and the few youth I have been blessed to help mentor, I can only imagine what a family must be going through during a time like this. Simply a nightmare.
As I was driving to the hospital (and changing a blown tire on I69 in the rain) I kept asking outloud, “Why?” “Why would you do this to yourself….” This of course was in tears. I couldn’t tell you how hard it was raining…or even if it was, but I do know I would barely see through my tears. I was overwhelmed. I’ve poisted some pictures of Tori…the beautiful little girl you see in those pictures was reflected from the inside out. Her outer beauty was a simple modest reflection of her heart…meaning that her beautiful smile didn’t come close to how precious her heart was. I knew her from the time she was born and watched her grow up. I remember when she started walking and more importantly when she started kicking. I used to teach her karate and she was so fun to teach and watch.
The closer I got to the hospital on Monday night, I began to pull myself together. I knew that the family needed me. I was thankful for the car ride so I could do what I needed to do. I want to pause and encourage each of you to think about your most devastating times, tragic moments, most emotional states…during those times you NEED people around you to help you. However, often times the most helpful words are unspoken. The best prayers are from the other room. The best hugs are given to others. Remember that sometimes people simply don’t know what they need…except for room to process and grieve and that’s ok.
I was so thankful that the family had some amazing people already at the hospital and I watched them take care of the family and quietly adminster to their needs. It reminded me of the people that were there for me at times.
When I finally had the opportunity to see the family and go back to see Tori, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d hoped. Nothing really prepared me to walk into the hospital room to see this precious little girl hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines. What made Lady Bugs think she had no other option in life but to take her own. What pushed her so far that she felt no one loved her or that she couldn’t talk to anyone. Why wasn’t I close enough to her that she could have called or sent me a txt. These among many other questions ran through my head. I had to remind myself that no matter the answers…she made the decision and I couldn’t change that.
I plan to write more about this tragic experience and my own process to understand and cope. I didn’t expect to write so much about these first two hours…so I have no idea how long this writing will be. Let me fastforward through this week. Today is Sunday, Mother’s day. My heart goes out to Lana and all other mothers around the world experiencing today with the loss of a loved one. I can’t even imagine.
Where am I at, emotionally? I miss Tori. I am upset that she made this decision. I am overwhelmed at witnessing the outpouring of support for the family. I am proud of the two girls that planned a walk to Tori of which more than 500 people showed up. I am dissapointed in the response towards others that have said or done things considered bullying. I wish people knew that nothing can bring Tori back and saying hurtful things to others doesn’t help and surely does not honor her. I want people to be more aware of not only bullying, but perhaps more importantly, suicide.
Again, I hope to post more as I write more soon. Thanks for reading and sharing.