It’s been quite a week for football in my home. I read in an article that the only football team in Miami this past Monday night that could compete with Alabama was the Miami Dolphins. Even they may have had a hard time with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, the NFL’s unofficial 33d team and the official best college football team in the land. Last night my 49ers dominated the Packers. While I knew they would win, I watched in awe as they scored touchdown after touchdown – Crabtree was amazing, Kapernick, almost flawless.
But there is much more to life than football and we’ve had a heavy dose of reality over here. Tragedy struck our little community when we learned that a student at my daughter’s high school hung himself a few days ago. His name was Lee and he was more than just a student. Lee was one of my daughter’s best friends. They went to prom together last year. Every day he would walk her to English class and every day they ate lunch together. This is one of those things you read about in the newspaper, but it never happens to anyone you know. Gionna visited with Lee at his home just hours before he tried to kill himself. I say tried because he lived for two more days. Gionna went to visit him Thursday evening in the ICU and when she came home, she seemed hopeful that Lee would be waking up soon. That wasn’t in God’s plan. Lee passed away Friday morning.
As parents, we often read books and talk to other parents regarding advice on raising our children. We do our best to answer their questions and guide them, often drawing from our own experiences. However, nothing can ever prepare you for when your child ask you why their friend killed himself. I have no answers, no one does. I hate to think that his life had become so dark for him that he felt ending his life was his only option. Lee always made Gionna laugh. That is the very thing she talked about most when she first met him. My daughter doesn’t care what race, color or religion you are – if you are a good person and can make her laugh, you’re in. It’s that simple with her and it’s one of the many things I love about her. Gionna has countless stories of Lee making her laugh, often at her own embarrassment, and I hope it’s those memories she will draw on during this time, and always. His death hasn’t hit her yet, not completely anyway, and it may take weeks. She told me last night how going to school on Monday was going to be one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do. Gionna asked me how would she be able to sit in the lunch room without Lee. They always sat together and now he’s gone. Again, I had no answer.
I’ve noticed on various media outlets that many of the students are posting sweet stories and saying very kind things about Lee. What if we didn’t wait until someone has passed away to let him or her know how much they meant to us. What if we told each other every chance we got what a difference we made in their lives or how happy we were to see them. What if we took just ten minutes out of our day to call each other – not text, not snap chat, not tweet, not a FaceBook status … but make an actual phone call or stop by for a visit. Our society and specifically. this generation, no longer knows much about the fine art of conversation. We are becoming very self-absorbed and selfish. We think what we don’t say or do today we can just do tomorrow, but sometimes, we can’t. Tomorrow is not promised to you or me. Leo Buscaglia said it best when he wrote,
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Stop what you are doing now and call your mom, your sister, your best friend, make a human connection with someone. Tell them you love them. If they are with you now, hug them. If they enjoy getting mail, sit down and write a letter, yes – with a pen and paper. It really is the little things people – trust me on this one. I’m in my home day after day with my adorable little boy who has a terminal illness. Due to progression of his disease, we are housebound except for when his nurse comes for a few hours to watch him. I promise your sweet ass, when someone comes by to visit or brings dinner over and stays to eat with us – I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. A phone call from a friend, priceless. Opening my mailbox and seeing a card, instant smile. I may look high maintenance and complicated, but at my core, I’m just a person who every now and again, likes to know that I’m not going through this journey called life alone. I think that’s all any of us want.