I found this old journaling piece from 2015 when I was feeling dumbfounded by the loss of four people in my community. As a teacher, I looked out at my classroom and saw the confusion and despair in the eyes of my students, young blessings who were affected by these deaths, no matter if they knew the deceased personally or from afar. It feels appropriate to share during suicide prevention week. I pray that my "kids" are doing well.
A message to my future graduates:
I’ve had your attention for a while now, but after you walk down that aisle, your attention will never again exist for me. So, I’m taking this opportunity to grab it one last time.
You are a blessing. If you don’t know it already, I want you to know it right here, right now. I need you to look at me... all eyes and ears on me... you are a BLESSING. Do you understand how much I mean that? Truly?
During this past school year, my job became a breath of fresh air while I’ve dealt with grief and disbelief, bewildered by the depths of depression experienced by mid-life crises. Above and beyond marital stresses and health issues and financial woes—problems bound to burden mid-lifers—I’ve known four people who not only thought about suicide but succumbed to it. What did we miss? Why did they do this? Why such desperation where the only option is to take one's life? Depression can run so very deep, and my heart pains for all who suffer. There are no easy answers. Only questions to an epidemic that has a ripple effect for those left behind. The mourning and reflection, the loss and sorrow, continue to fester. I wish I had words of enlightenment, some kind of inspirational commentary. I don't. But I do have your attention one last time, so I need to use this moment to say something, and here it is: you are a blessing; you make me alive; you make me smile, make my days worthwhile, and I’ll repeat it over and over again until you get it, until I've drilled it into your minds and you believe it. YOU are a blessing.
I wonder where you’ll be in five years, which college or employer is being blessed with your presence. Wherever you are, I hope you look in the mirror and see what I see today... a blessing.
Fifteen years from now you might be settling down with a career and/or family (more people in this crazy world to embrace you as an integral person in their lives). Those people will be blessed to have you around, and if they don’t understand that, feel free to contact me, so I can share my message with them... you are a BLESSING.
And thirty-five years from now? Well, you’ll be middle-aged like me, facing challenges that might seem too overwhelming to bear. And when you cross a bridge that’s creaking and swaying, readying itself to break and lose strength, I hope you remember my words from the last time I had your attention...
YOU ARE A BLESSING, AND I THANK GOD FOR YOU!