It's Mother's Day and for the first time I am incredibly aware of the mothers around me who have lost a child. Whether the death was due to an overdose, a suicide, an illness, cancer or an accident, the result is the same. For the rest of their lives, they're destined to feel an aching hollow spot in the part of their heart where their child used to reside.
I'll be honest. I wanted Julie to tell me the secret to helping my sister recover. Clearly, that's not going to happen. So, I'm just going to focus on listening to my sister, loving her and recognizing that God has a plan for all of us.
Just a few words about Carson. See that face? That's the smile I remember every single time that I saw him. His death really rocked me. Along with being saddened by his loss, I questioned whether other teenagers I knew could be hiding behind cheerful expressions while inside they fought their own demons. It's something we should all recognize.
I really admire and appreciate Julie for shining a light on mental illness and being transparent with her story.
“NOT A DAY PROMISED”
October 23, 1991 – July 12, 2010
The summer after Carson graduated from high school, he worked at my sister and brother-in-law’s ranch, just as he had done for several years prior. He was “in his element” at that ranch. He loved being and working there. He once told me that when he looked up into the clear skies from the ranch at night, and saw all of the bright stars, it amazed him. He shared that he didn’t know how anyone could not believe in God after seeing His stars.
On July 12, 2010, a day not unlike any other, my husband, Todd, received a not-so-common call from my brother-in-law around mid-morning while he was at work. Todd was on another call, business at that time, so he sent the call to voice mail. Within seconds, Todd received another call from the same number. This time, he excused himself from the business call to answer this second call. It was his brother-in-law; and in broken sentences, almost inaudible, with incredible pain in his voice, he told Todd that our son, Carson, had killed himself.
Todd called me; and by just the sound of his voice, I knew what had happened. Todd told me to go into our bedroom by myself and close the door. Tears began to flow as I lifted the phone back to my ear to hear, “Carson has killed himself.” It was as if things instantaneously went to slow motion. Could this be a dream?
The balance of that day was surreal to say the least. Within the hour, as Todd arrived home and we gathered as family in shock, an outpouring of love began to arrive from the church that Carson spent most of his life attending. God's custom grace was already at work, for his Word says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
Despite the incredible confusion of what had just happened that morning, the Lord distracted Todd with a flood of words in quick order that he openly shared with close family and friends via Facebook; an epitaph written only once through, a first sign to me and my family of clarity, pointing toward a forthcoming journey, to peer closely into the invisibility of mental illness. It was then that we decided we would be transparent about Carson’s and our family’s mental illnesses, and that suicide had taken Carson in an irrational moment.
The Lord orchestrated these moments, the immediate posting of the devastating news to the world via the Internet, “We share these words, and all that is within this site, so that all who visit will have access to the powerful testimony of God's grace in a desperate time of loss, and a message of Hope-to-Cope for those struggling with any form of mental illness. May you be blessed for renewing your mind with the encouragement and truth you find here.” (www.notadaypromised.com)
On that day, July 12, 2010, Todd posted to Facebook:
"Dear friends of Carson Chandler Brooks. Carson passed away and returned to his true home, July 12, 2010. His passing brings great sadness. He was so very young, brilliant, funny, sneaky, sometimes the playful liar, a caregiver – all wrapped up in one spectacular package.
So many tears, so much pain, so much confliction. Not for those of us left behind, but actually Carson’s struggle for many of these last years…full of life-yes, vision-yes, desire-yes, and creativity-yes…but living in great burden with bipolar.
From many of you, Carson hid his struggles well, always the smile, the laugh, the jokes, always there to lift YOU up – the independence, oh my gosh, the independence…but, for a few of you, who knew him the closest, Carson never knew what the day would bring for him, as his bipolar condition stalked him almost every waking moment. What strength, endurance and stamina he had to maintain for these many years. It was just too much.
Carson took his own life this morning.
Carson was a born-again believer of Jesus Christ, since he was about 7-years old, and God knew at that time what today would bring. We did not.
Todd Brooks -
To Believers of Jesus Christ:
While some of you are now conflicted in regards to a Christian taking his or her own life and questioning whether gaining eternity in heaven is possible, let me comfort you, as He has comforted me. The Bible says, 'All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.'(John 6:36-39)
An unknown writer shares, 'So from the divine viewpoint, we see that believers are actually a gift from the Father, to the Son. It is the Father that enables people to come to Jesus to be saved. And not only that, but of those that the Father gives Jesus, He has specifically said that He will lose NONE! Not one. Now we, with our little limited human pee-brains won't understand how all this works. We struggle to get our minds around things like divine election versus free will etc (and rightly so!) but one thing I can say without any reservation is that Jesus will not lose any believers that the Father gives Him. He will lose none, zero, zilch, zippo! But will raise them ALL up on the last day.' I couldn’t have said it better.
To Those of You Who Are Not Born-Again Believers in Jesus Christ:
Carson stepped into the hands of God the very minute life left his human body this morning. 'Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.' (2 Corinthians 5:8-NLT) No more illness to make him sick, or cheaters to take things from him, liars to mislead him, alcohol to slow his senses, tobacco to poison his lungs…and these things given to Carson from some of you reading this right now…and these things some of you are struggling with as well right now. But, be not misled, these sins are not too great or many, for the God my family and I serve, to forgive. He forgave Carson’s sins when he was reborn of Christ at age 7, all of them, regenerated, made new, and He can do the same for you. Besides the awesome gift of eternal life in heaven for you, there’s a bonus attached…if you give your life to Jesus Christ, YOU WILL SEE CARSON AGAIN IN ETERNITY as well!
Since that day, July 12, 2010, I have learned and lived but continue to live with grief. Everyone who has not lost a child might think that by 8 years since Carson’s death, I would be well on my way beyond the day Carson took his life. That is not the way the loss of a child works; it doesn’t follow the order which we can comprehend. We, the parents, will grieve on this earth, until our appointed time to return to our real home to meet our child at Heaven’s gates.
Some people say a person that committed suicide was selfish in their action. Hearing such is like a dagger into my heart. Anyone that chooses to take their life does so in an “irrational state of mind.” We were all born with the will to live, not to hurry death. So, please understand. At that moment of no return, this beautiful flesh of my flesh rationalized that nothing short of death could ease his pain. Such pain cannot truly be described or accepted outside the community of the same in such distress. We can all rationalize the pain of a broken bone, cancer, child birth, passing a kidney stone, but to be so desperately unstable in mind to believe that taking one’s life is the only valid choice, can only be initiated when the individual determines there is literally no hope, no purpose to live, no other option of escape. It is a choice made that cannot be cured or revoked.
I have turned my sorrow into helping those mother’s, who have lost a child, and others caring for or suffering with mental illness, to find resources; to find ways to educate themselves against the powerful and prevailing stigma that plagues 1 in 4 adults suffering with mental illness, and the 1 in 5 teens suffering from mental illness. I can help them see that what they are feeling is predictable to a certain degree, impacts many that fear allowing a transparent look into what their suffering is like, is studied continuously by scientists and medical professionals across the world, can be improved with proper help, right habits, incredible medicines, seeking communities of like-minded individuals that lift each other up in times of distress, and so many other sources that offer hope-to-cope.
I still cry once or twice a week to release the pain of Carson’s absence. It is OK to cry! It is healthy. I have just learned to wear waterproof eye make-up. ☺
The day a child precedes their parents from this earth, the pain you will feel from this loss is because your child was woven into every part of each day. Don’t be afraid to be honest with people about how you feel, or that you may cry easily the rest of your life. God is collecting our tears and probably saving them to answer a prayer for a future drought. ☺
Below is my contact information. Our website can point you to useable mental health and suicide prevention resources. I also have a patient ears and never shy away from callers with tears.
Our website with resources and encouraging Blog: www.notadaypromised.com