how suicide changed my life

January 26, I was sitting in church. It was my fourth time seeing Team Impact in 24 hours. I checked my phone right before the message to see a text from a “mom friend.” It was a screen shot of an email. A prayer request for the family of one my high school friends in “the unexpected death of their daughter.” My heart sank. I grabbed the end of the pew as I thought I would get sick right then and there. My heart was racing, I was shaking, sweat began dripping from my forehead. All I could think was “WHAT!” I wanted to scream. Right there in the middle of the church, in the middle of the sermon. Right when there was an opportunity for me to step out of the pew (because I am awkward and I refuse to make a scene of myself,) I stumbled out of the back of the church, into a stairwell and began to weep. I had no clue what had happened. I thought about all of the possibilities but nothing that it was. I just didn’t want to believe it. I told myself it wasn’t true. When the service was over, I approached my pastor, my loving boss and sweetest man I know and as I began to tell him, he grabbed my hand and said “I heard.” That’s when he looked me in the eyes with his calming voice and said “What do you think could have made her take her own life?” I squeezed his hand, put my head down and began to sob “I just don’t know.”

We spend every day with someone for years in middle school and high school. We see some one at church every week. We have the same waitress at our favorite restaurant every visit. We have the same person help us at the pharmacy every time we go. We have the same barista at Starbucks, they even know our names. We see the same man standing on the side of the road on the way to school. God puts us and our children in certain classes at school, puts us in Sunday Schools with particular people, He crosses our paths with people every day. With Facebook and Instagram, and all the social media Satan deceives us into thinking we know our friends, we’re there for our friends. But that isn’t enough. He puts people in our lives, physically in our lives, through school, work, jobs, church, life, every thing we do for a reason. And what do we do about it?

We’ve known each other since 3rd grade. GAs, choirs, softball games, youth group, middle school, high school and all the things in between. We graduated three years ago this May. Just three years ago, we were all meeting for Wednesday morning Bible studies every week. We were laughing in Photog 2. We were all sitting in Econ together. We were going to lunch together every day. We were riding around Montgomery because there was nothing else to do. I was the good girl whose friends left her out of a lot because they knew I’d disapprove. I was the last to know about the boyfriends, the one never invited to parties, the one that was always told to cover her ears because they were saying things they know I’d tell them not to. But something my friends obviously didn’t know about me was how much I loved them. How grateful I was for how much they meant to me. Despite our differences, despite all the “oh you wouldn’t want to know” and the “Amy, cover your ears,” they were my best friends. Never passing judgement, I only wanted the best for them. That’s why I disapproved of some of the boyfriends, why I just wanted us all to go to the movies or ride around jamming out to Glee instead of parties, and why I wanted their words to be as sweet as their hearts because I love their hearts so much.

I loved every thing about them.

But this isn’t about telling everyone you love how much you love them. Don’t go call everyone you’ve ever loved to tell them you love them and tell them you can’t live without them. Love doesn’t mean anything when there is no action behind it. I truly think this is caring about the day to day things. The little things. The real things that matter. The weekend before the 26th, I had been looking at Instagram when my friend’s account came up as she had commented on something. I clicked to see how she looked so happy. Later that weekend after church Sunday, I happened to go to the restaurant she had worked at to see a group picture she was in on the wall. It could have been the sun hitting it just right but she was just shining out so bright I didn’t see anyone but her. I can’t even count how many times I looked at it that day. God had laid her on my heart several times that weekend. I didn’t blatantly ignore God telling me to reach out to her, I just didn’t think about it. I guess being the girl everyone seemed to sneak around, I haven’t really felt like the friend my friends in college care to hear from.

But that next night, January 26, I had wished I had thought about reaching out. Not just the day before but for the past three years we’ve been living separate lives. We talked every time we saw each other. But what if we lived life more intentional. What if we had continued doing life together these last three years, or the two I’ve been home from Auburn. We’re not out to save the world, that’s God’s job. We can’t know what everyone is facing; we are not omniscient, God is. But we can intentionally care. We can call when God places someone on our hearts, we can take something to someone when they are sick, offer to help the man on the side of the street, the children standing in the rain, smile at the woman in the grocery store, pray with the man, etc. God saves, God knows, God loves, God cares- He will place you in the spot you need to be and give you the thought to do or say something to be the light the world needs. It is God’s job to save and to know, it is your job to do it, say it, be it. You never know what one word will do, one smile will mean, one action, one thought, one hug will mean.

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