“What’s going on with my e-mail account?” – Braden’s Dad
“It could be that I have something people need to hear.” – Braden Speed
“Daddy, today I helped a boy at school. I let him know I cared.” – Braden’s sister
The response to our first blog was astounding. Sharing from our hearts in transparency apparently struck some kind of common chord.
I’m an organizer of things. Maybe a bit OCD, although I don’t go so far as to label my socks “L” and “R”. On the other hand, don’t open our bedroom closet door because it isn’t pretty.
When it comes to managing email, I take pride in never having more than ten in my intray. After the initial blog, “Dream Nightmare” posted, I went to the gym. We got some groceries and I ran by the post office. A few hours later we got home and I pulled out my phone to check the calendar. The email app showed 66 notifications. What?? “Dang it. Setting up that WordPress blog account must have sold my email address to scammers and robot junk e-mailers.
But when I checked the emails to delete them and to set up a new address, I found hundreds of notes from individuals whom we have never met who were touched by our story. How amazing the internet can be.
We have mixed feelings about this anomaly. Such a heightened level of interest confirms there is, in fact a clear message in what Braden had to say. His message resonates because it is truth; it is heartfelt, and yet it is so elementary in its simplicity. It’s also consoling to our souls to find others walking a similar path.
However, it’s ironic and concerning that a story about teen depression and suicide is no longer a depressing blog no one wants to read, but just the opposite. People are thirsting for transparency because they have a private story of their own and they want to know how to navigate their way.
There isn’t a checklist to ensure you won’t experience our nightmare. If there were, we could eradicate the suicide epidemic immediately. After all, we’re checklist people, right? Wouldn’t that be efficient. I can’t truthfully say we have the answers. However, we have identified a couple of big pieces in this thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of teen culture.
All I have to offer here is what our sweet and very special son, Braden would tell me if he were here, that would have kept him alive one more minute, a day, a week, or a year… a lifetime?
That was: “True Purpose and just one real and loyal caring friend at school would have sustained me”
Parents: What can We Do!?
In our home, we now pack a lunch and have breakfast at our counter bar. We say a really simple and quick prayer, most times on the run. The prayer is fast and often a little humorous. Nothing wordy or fancy. It just comes from the soul. And each day we have begun charging Caitlin to find one person that day in school to reach through the thin invisible “Comfort Zone” and to touch another kid’s life. I then ask at day’s end who she found and their name. That’s important. It’s a fun but purposeful way to teach about being Christ-like. She then goes out the door with a “mission”.
Yesterday, I asked and she said a little boy was in his wheelchair and couldn’t get the switch to operate so he was embarrassed. She asked if she could help and he nodded. She was able to jiggle it and get it to work. Then she said, “Hope ya have a great day”.
I asked how Caitlin felt that made him feel? She replied, “Good”.
I then asked, how did YOU feel by doing that?: “I felt really good”.
Last question: “Why?”
Her response “I helped someone to know they had a person in the world who cared”.
Reader: Know that I am one who wants to respond to every personal note because we are intimately virtual friends sharing a similar experience. Please know that’s just who I am.
However, please also understand I’m a husband to Cathy and a daddy to Caitlin. I read each and every note and often read them aloud to my family. We are all being comforted by your prayers and personal stories. If I don’t respond I trust you understand.
With the complete trust and reliance on the Holy Sprit, Braden’s Voice is being heard.
Bless you and please remember to bless those who need you.