March 2013. A date that is seared into my memory. The Utah Legislative Session was coming to a close. The bills I worked on were high maintenance. The closing days vital. I was helping to save lives. Homeless youth and children with epilepsy were forefront in my heart and mind. Every decision critical. Every day intense. Only a few more days and two major bills would either pass or fail. Lives depended on me.
In truth, I wasn’t alone but I acted as if I was, that it all depended on me. I think it’s a survival technique. In reality, the team of mom’s and legislators I was working with were exceptional. We were equally passionate, determined, and capable.
Then, on one of the worst stormy nights of the year, Hannah and her friends were in a car accident. Getting that call at eleven on a Saturday night is every parent’s nightmare. My husband and I put on our clothes and proceeded carefully on the 20-mile drive down a very treacherous canyon. The snow was blinding. The news later reported that it was the worst night in Utah’s Wasatch Front’s history for accidents.
We arrived on the scene to find police, ambulances, and dazed, scared kids. Not one child needed transporting. We spoke with the police. Thanked the restaurant manager who opened his doors to children in shock. And then proceeded to take Hannah to the emergency room where her forehead was stitched up. We were assured there was no sign of a concussion and sent home.
Eighteen months later on June 19, 2014, she completed suicide due to post-concussive syndrome. This month marks eighteen months since Hannah’s been gone.
After her death, my determination was to learn from her life not lie dormant and sad in the regret that so easily besets suicide victims. ‘Because of’ instead of ‘what if’ became my war cry and continues to this day. I have two lovely boys still with me here on earth, a husband whose heart is broken, and a whole community of family and friends who desperately want the suffering to stop. Every single day is an opportunity to move forward and upward. It was Hannah’s hope to be able to mend her mind, to share her thoughts without fear of judgment, and ultimately to be healed. So, that’s what I do. I heal my thoughts, I share without fear of judgment and invite others to do the same, and investigate new ways of healing the brain. I’m grateful I’m not alone. And neither are you.
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