Two years. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. But at the same time, it feels a hundred years too long. It has been two years since the hardest night of my life. I truly think it is a memory that I will never be able to shake.
I still remember the night, vividly. I was out to the movies with someone who I loved. My phone was dead, so I was surprised when my date leaned over with a text from my mom. My mom had texted her saying that I needed to call her before I came home that night. That instantly worried me. I borrowed her phone and asked my mom what was going on. My mom said to not worry and to just call her when I got the chance. But I was persistent; I had to know what was going on. That’s when I got the text, “your sister Melissa is gone.” I asked my mom what she meant; I wanted so badly to believe that my sister had ran away. But there was a part of me that already knew my sister had passed away. She had died by suicide.
That sent me down the two hardest years of my life, two years filled with pain, change, and growth. I was starting college that fall, I was finally able to play hockey after some time away, and I was moving away from home. There were all of those things, on top of my already broken heart. Then, about a month into college, I had found out a friend from my graduating high school class had taken his own life. Like my sister, he was truly the life of the party. That is how I will forever picture him in my mind.
These events had shaken me up, to say the least. My life in a matter of about 4 months had completely flipped upside down. I went from feeling on top of the world, to one of the lowest points in my life. The way I saw it, I had a choice. I could let these tragic moments win, and send me on even more of a downward spiral. Or, I could use the pain that I was feeling, to hopefully make sure that others down the road wouldn’t have to feel the same way I did. I chose the second option.
In the two years following my sister’s death I have seen more pain then anyone should have to bear, but I’ve also had some very promising moments. I was apart of a successful hockey team that had made a trip to Nationals for the first time in our schools’ history. I have earned some of the best grades in my life, and I have been on dean’s list for the past two semesters. I have learned more valuable lessons that I may have otherwise never have experienced. I have had some conversations that I will never forget. I have raised $805 dollars for National Suicide Prevention Week. I was apart of multiple suicide prevention events. I was invited to share a bit of my story at an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness walk that my friends were putting together. I had fundraised enough money to attend a To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) summer conference, where I eventually found out that I was allowed to establish a U-chapter at my university (still working towards that.) I became an uncle to a beautiful little baby boy, named Wyatt Michael Kelley. And finally, I was accepted to spend the summer in Melbourne, Florida interning for TWLOHA. Now, I am not saying these things to get applause, or for words of affirmation. I am saying this to say that there are better days ahead. We are all stories still going, we may not get to choose what happens to us in life, but we are left with where we go from there.
I have been presented with some very incredible opportunities in these past two years. I have had more support than I could have ever imagined while on this journey. To be able to work for a company that helped me through some of toughest days of my life is a complete blessing. But I would not be here without the community I have behind me. Honestly, I have no idea where I would be if I didn’t have the kind of support that I was given. To my friends that where there for some of the longest days of my life, thank you. There is no way I can ever repay you. To the people who have given my family or me encouragement and support over these two years, thank you. To the people reading this and keeping up with my journey, thank you.
I don’t know what has allowed me to get to where I am, but I think the world has a funny way of working itself out. You can call it whatever you want, God, fate, luck, chance, you name it. I have learned a lot about myself, and others through my experiences. I have found hope, sometimes in the most unexpected of places. I have learned to believe that people need other people. I am lucky enough to have some very important people in my life, and I hope that you have people like that. If this post makes you realize anything, I hope it is that hope is so very real. I have hope for my story, and I have hope for yours. Our stories might not look so similar or maybe they do. But what we all have in common is pain, whatever that may look like for you. I hope that you believe that help is real, and I hope you never give up on your story. There is so much out there to live for.
My sister was a beautiful person, inside and out. She was the life of the party and could put a smile on almost anyone’s face. However, she struggled with chronic migraines, almost daily. If you think a migraine is just a headache, you’re wrong. They are for some people probably 50x worse than the worst headache you can imagine. Not to mention the things that come along with a migraine: Nausea, impaired vision, and loss of feeling, just to name a few. I cannot even begin to tell you how many nights both my mom, and my sister spent at the hospital. I cannot even begin tell you how many different doctors my sister went to. I cannot even begin to comprehend the amount of pain my sister had endured. One of the phrases I had heard her say probably a hundred times was, “I’m not living, I’m surviving.” That’s a phrase that has stuck with me till this very day. I hope more people will start to take this disease more seriously; there are far too many people who suffer daily with it. I hope that a cure comes soon. I hope everyone still reading this would do a little research on Chronic Migraines. It is too late for my sister, but no one should have to go through what my sister and so many others have to go through.
I love you so much. I know that you are at peace now, and I hope you’re the life of the party up there. I would say watch over me, but for some reason I think that you already are. I feel you sometimes, in the wind, when I drive, and even right now while I am writing this. You are the light that guides me through the darkest of times, and I hope you celebrate my successes. Words cannot do you justice. I will never forget you, and I will always carry you with me.