Dream Nightmare

Just to begin, I don’t “blog”.  What is that? I also don’t like to talk to audiences. My grammar and my punctuation will be imperfect.  I also admit that I have a Texas twang that might be perceived as lacking in depth somehow. Please understand, however. I have a message from my heart.

It is Braden’s voice with which I wish to speak. – Braden’s Dad

“It isn’t enough for kids to not bully.  I need someone who cares enough to invite me, to ask about my life, and to be a real friend.” –Braden Speed

12/9/18    6:10am

I just woke from a dream.

This was one of those dreams that is just “too real”. You pinch or punch yourself to come to consciousness, but you can’t awaken from the experience. All your efforts just confirm it as… Real.

I have several friends and family members who have advised me to begin a journal after Braden took his life October 30, 2018.  They suggested writing down important experiences for later recall as often we forget too quickly the details in life that are so very crystal clear in the moment.  “Even when you wake from a dream, write it down”. Guess this is one of those moments and one appropriate to begin sharing from the heart about our story.


In this “Dream”, our son Braden was in a living room sitting on a couch. This was not our home.  It was a home where we were visiting.  The room was filled with an overly bright amount of sunlight pouring into the room through an oversized window, literally the size of an entire wall. Although the room was starkly bright, we were very sad.

I was consoling my wife, Cathy in the kitchen area. As I left her side, I noticed our son, Braden near the brightly lit window with his back to me. He was sitting sideways and twisted in a chair. I couldn’t see his face. He was in his pajama bottoms with no shirt (his favorite ensemble and the last thing he wore).

I went to check on him. He was melancholy which had become common.  I patted his stomach and hugged him from behind. I began to weep, kissing and smelling his hair. I loved to do that.  As he turned to me he had tears running down his cheeks. They were pouring from his eyes. His face was red. He’d been crying silently but I hadn’t known. I kissed his head and kept holding him very tightly and weeping.

Suddenly, I became aware this was not real.  It was a dream. “Oh, Braden. I wish you hadn’t gone”.  He replied, “I do too, daddy”. Then we both just cried together.

Then I woke in tears…

Though we can’t bring our son back, we believe God can use our story to  help save others.

Parent.  Teen.  Teacher. School administrator. Families:  

Our story is unique.  That’s what makes a story.  However, this is a story far too common these days. Teens are very often seriously considering the option of leaving this world early and before they get through the teen experience. It’s a story happening in so many homes. A story you’d never image is unfolding behind too many gorgeous facades of affluence.  It is a much longer story than suitable for this blog. It could easily fill volumes.

However, the message is very simple:  It’s not enough to just be “nice” in this world.  To make a real and lasting impact on depression and suicide, first we must be consciously/ intentionally seeking out those around us who are not being included. Secondly, we must be bold to invite  and include them; and most crucial is to stay, even when it’s not easy. In so doing, both individuals are made better and perhaps our world becomes purpose driven in others versus focused on ourselves.

Words Braden places on our hearts will be shared, but right now we really do need this first one to go out urgently.  Kids are dying or they are contemplating doing so because they aren’t living lives with purpose.

Readers: This is a rough start and I can’t say how often updates will be posted.  I begin my full time job again mid-January.  My company has been so gracious to allow some time but life will return to “normal”.    I just want to use this time to at least begin messaging as we feel moved.

We are called to teach our children the way in which they should go. Our prayer is we can help the “Bradens” who can still be saved.   My prayer is the words placed on our family’s hearts will be those of the Holy Spirit and to serve as Braden’s Voice.

49 thoughts on “Dream Nightmare

  1. Mark and family, I am so very sorry for your loss. I have friends who lost their 20 year old son in July of this year, much like Braden. It breaks my heart to know many families who have lost their children in this way.

    I appreciate your openness to share a heartbreaking story, so that we can learn from Braden what needs to be said and done for others. And STAYING in their lives.

    God bless you all as you continue this journey

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Mark and Cathy, My heart breaks for the pain you two are going through and my prayers are coming your way. I can remember the first year after my son Matt committed suicide and the dark tunnel I went through. By finding your voiice and proactively reacting to your grief I think you will find answers more quickly. Mine has been a long journey of 11.5 years. At first I served the soldiers Matt and I admired who were afflicted with PTSD and then I began facilitating the Griefshare course at CottwoodCreek Church in Allen near you for the past 7 years. My experience has confirmed the message in 2Cor… that God will comfort us in all things, so that we may share with others afflicted the comfort which he has granted ourselves. I would be happy to be both a resource and a friend while you two navigate this journey,
        Jim Johnson cell 214 384 0362

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Mark and Family,
    Thank you so much for being so honest about your life. We have an epidemic on our hands and it seems like no one wants to admit it. My daughter tried to take her life and by the grace of God did not succeed. Your post reached my soul and I pray for you and your family.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your heart breaking story , I’m so sorry for your loss . I know as a volunteer at our local high school it’s hard to watch and hear some children’s words and actions and I just want to run up and hug the children that are being singled out . Its heart breaking to see the lack of respect for our children in the world today . Sending prayers to you and your family .God Bless

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was hard to read. It was important to read. I also had a thought. Do we need to model this for our kids? I haven’t. What I mean is, what if, when we went out to eat, for example, and we see somebody eating all alone, we invited them to eat with our family? That is hard to imagine doing, for me. That would be out of my comfort zone. Yet I want/expect kids to do that very type of thing. I need to take a long, hard look at myself…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a great idea Mitzi. Let’s try that as a fun way to test the theory. Kid’s mimic their parents. Wouldn’t it be amazing to watch a lost generation changed by actual parental guidance and modeling! You have helped in my process of ideas for sharing. Thank you

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  5. I too lost my sweet son to suicide July 26, 2017. Zane was a tender 16. I feel every tiny inkling of your pain. I too blog, and it has been my best therapy. Please remember this is YOUR blog and you can tell it how it is, exactly how it is. Don’t worry about offending anyone, you are grieving in a way that most will never understand. Especially losing a child in a way we did. Much love my friend. Take your time. There is absolutely NO time on getting better. I will never get past my son’s death. Zane was my world. ❤️ Your son didn’t want to die, he wanted to end his pain.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Carrie, no words. I’ve read some of your blog and know you’re hurting still. I grew up in Brownfield and went to Tech. My twin and sister as well as parents are in Lubbock.

      Shared experiences are sometimes comforting so thanks for reaching out. Prayers over your family. Mark

      Like

  6. Mark, I am friends with Mitzi Cross. I have also been in contact with your wife. I am so sorry you have joined the club. Our Joshua was healed from depression on April 12, 2017. We understand! Many hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark,
    My prayers are with you and your family for peace and comfort. I felt moved to add another aspect to this, and that it is not always the children that are “left” out that struggle with depression and suicide. My daughter was a “light” throughout her school years. Always a smile on her face, a top soccer player, a sergeant on the drill team, a nurturing individual and a friend to all. Although we were/and always will be very close, I never knew the struggles she was facing, nor how close I came to losing my daughter here on earth. She was strong enough in her Faith to turn to GOD during her darkest moments and somehow survived those treturous teenage years. She still struggles, but I know one day she will help lead other young people in their struggles. GOD BLESS.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark,
    My prayers are with you and your family for peace and comfort. I felt moved to add another aspect to this, and that it is not always the children that are “left” out that struggle with depression and suicide. My daughter was a “light” throughout her school years. Always a smile on her face, a top soccer player, a sergeant on the drill team, a nurturing individual and a friend to all. Although we were/and always will be very close, I never knew the struggles she was facing, nor how close I came to losing my daughter here on earth. She was strong enough in her Faith to turn to GOD during her darkest moments and somehow survived those treturous teenage years. She still struggles, but I know one day she will help lead other young people in their struggles. GOD BLESS.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Speed family,

    I am heart broken. My son sat with Braden at lunch and was in his shop class. The first day he ate lunch without Braden, he came home and said lunch would never be the same. I know nothing I could say or do can take this pain away. However, I pray for healing and peace that only God can provide for you and your family. God bless you and hold you close.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reaching out. We’d love to hear more about Braden from school life perspective. Trying to together the puzzle pieces.

      God bless you and thank your son for being in Braden’s life.

      Like

  10. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. Your words are beautifully written and the love for your sweet son rings through very loudly. Thank you for choosing to share such a tough portion of your life. I will continue to share your story with my children.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mark, thanks for opening and sharing something so personal. I can’t imagine what you and your family are feeling now, and sorry for you loss. I think we could all benefit from stopping, being present, and be aware of others a little more.

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  12. It is still hard for me to grasp that Braden is gone. Every time I hear Peyah his face if at the front of my brain. After all Braden gave me that name and I will wear it with honor for the remainder of my time here on earth. This has taken a tremedous effort on your part Mark. I can only try to imagine your emotions. If mine are hard for me then I know yours are unbearable. The dreams may be many. The dreams may hold a specific direction God wants you to travel. The dreams may be God’s way of helping you to swim through this muddy water. Regardless I can see from TN that God is in control and that you allowing Him to guide you. Your pain and anguish, as hard as it may be for you, could save another’s life. Already you have touched so many. Already Mark you and Braden as a team have done much and although you may never know to what extent your reaching out has helped, I think it is very probable that you have already saved lives. What you are doing is so so important. I thank you from my heart for having the courage to step out, be different, use your horrible experience to help others. You are my hero and I love you as I loved Braden, forever and always.
    Aunt Peyah

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for your brave effort to share and connect. Please keep writing. Let it all pour through you. His voice and yours. We all need as much truth as possible. It matters!! I am so very sorry for your unimaginable loss and will continue to follow and pray. 💕

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  14. Mark,
    As a teacher at the elementary level, your words are so profound. In teaching our youth, more than ever, instilling in them to be kind has always been something we say. But your testimony has also taught us to teach others to exhibit this through inclusiveness, and advocating for one another. God is truly using you as a light for others in sharing your journey, your words have not gone unheard. I pray you continue to write.

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    1. I won’t but the Spirit WILL! I just gave Him back my fingers and heart. Find these kids and find the leaders in your class. Confide in them and lead them to lead our son’s and daughters out of loneliness and into life. God bless you and your leadership of our next generation.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this Mark. I have been thinking and praying for you all. I pray that God will use this heartbreaking story to reach others…you are all so strong and God is with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As a mother who has a daughter who battles depression and anxiety and who never felt like she belonged with the other kids, as a mother of a daughter who seriously contemplated taking her own life; my heat aches for you.
    As a mother I am standing alone crying for you and wanting you to know how much I wish to take away your pain. As a child who lost a sister when she was only 16 and watched my mother and father suffer, I hold you in my heart. As a mother whose children went to the same school and felt the same isolation and pain, I regret I did not encourage my daughter more to seek out others who like her wanted a real friend. As a human, I am angry and the loss of our kids who don’t even yet have fully developed brains or the capacity to understand that the here and now is not the all and forever. My heart is with you and your family as a mother a daughter and a person.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I just wanted to leave a note to say I am so very sorry for your loss. Our boys were somewhat friends. Caden withdrew from school last year because he was having such a hard time and was so depressed. And even went to a crisis center for a short time. My heart broke hearing the news of your son because it was my greatest fear for Caden. I can not count the times I would walk upstairs to make sure he was still “there” and was terrified for over a year that he would take his own life.
    Please know I have had your family in my thoughts and prayers and my heart aches for you.
    I know there is absolutely nothing I can say or do to take away the pain you have but I at least wanted you to know that you are not alone.

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    1. Ericka, I had no idea Caden had come into his life nor that we shared the common ground. I truly hope your son has found a better place. Would be interested to hear more. God bless your family.

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  18. Thank you for sharing, thank you for the raw honesty and thank you for putting yourself out there. I didn’t know your son and I don’t know you, but Braden has made an impact on my life. Prayers for your family and that the Holy Spirit continues to pour words into you that we need to hear. I look forward to hearing more of what you have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t know you, but your family has been on my heart since hearing about your son. My son is just starting this walk through junior high and high school and I don’t want him to be the victim or unknowingly adding to someone else’s hidden pain. I look forward to more posts. So sorry for your loss but encouraged that God is using you to possibly speak to someone else going through the same things. Thank you for your courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for this, Mark! The following words from this blog will guide us at the high school:
    “It’s not enough to just be “nice” in this world. To make a real and lasting impact on depression and suicide, first we must be consciously seeking out those around us who are not being included.”

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Please keep writing. Don’t worry so much about grammar. We need to read your words. I’m sharing them with my children. I can only influence 3, but making a change starts small.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. So sorry for your loss ! You are doing a wonderful thing alerting others to be more attuned to their teenagers needs. You share both in my prayers. God has his arms around Braden now.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Heartbreakingly good. I feel your pain so much as your mom. Nothing is more painful that seeing you child hurt & not be able to “fix it”. I’m just so glad you know the Great Physician who can heal the pain….even He can’t do it quickly. But through the healing process He will never leave or forsake you…He will be with you always . Love, Mom

    Liked by 1 person

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