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September is Suicide Awareness Month.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Mike, one of my stepbrothers.

I was in my hometown, visiting my dad, along with the man I was dating at the time, named Dennis.

We stopped by Mike’s house and Dennis and Mike seemed to hit it off, so the four of us – Dennis, me, Mike and Mike’s wife, went to the neighboring town to go drinking and dancing.

We laughed hard that night. We danced together, and drank too much.

If I had known it was going to be the last time I saw Mike, I wouldn’t have been drinking at all. I would have talked about our childhood, our parents (my dad and his mom- who were, and still are, married to each other). I would have asked about his hopes and dreams. Of course I would have listened for something, anything that would have given away the darkness he must have been dealing with.

As far as my memory stretches back, I have known Mike. He and his family (three other boys and their parents) were our neighbors from the time I was three-years-old to the time I was nine. Mike was the same age as my oldest brother and they were in school together. None of Mike’s brothers were exactly my age, but I did attend the same school as the second to the youngest for a while.

Mike didn’t have much to do with all of us younger kids but of course he was there at the Thanksgiving dinners and other holidays we shared together. On one Thanksgiving he helped my brothers and his brothers stuff my Mrs. Beasley Doll into the toilet and flush. He was a part of the neighborhood where I was the only girl among nine boys.

He was always a part of my life even if I didn’t get home to see him that often.

The loss is the most intense for his two girls, his three brothers and his mom. Every time I see them, I think about the hole that is now in their lives. I think about the grief that they must carry and the what-ifs, and the how-comes, and all the other possibilities and questions.

Mike left behind his kids, and if he were alive, he would be a grandpa, but suicide took that all away.

If you are suffering, or you know someone who is suffering, please get help. I know it is cliché, but it is also true, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” You can come through depression or symptoms of your mental illness, and feel joy again. It is too late for so many, but it is the right time for thousands – reach out, tell someone, grab a line to life, let someone else give you the strength to live when yours is depleted. There is help.

This is in memory of Mike. I wish my dad still kept me updated on your life, and that I could drop by your house instead of your grave when I am in town. I wish I didn’t have to think of the pain your mom feels. I wish so much…

Peace out, brother.