TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses my friend’s suicide attempt. Please do not read it if this is a trigger.
So much can happen in one year. Do any of you remember last year? Last Christmas, last Thanksgiving, last Summer? Those can bring such fond memories, right? I remember all those times as well as an exceptional moment one year ago today. I say exceptional because what started out as a terrifying incident turned out to be God’s mercy and showing how He works in and through others for his purpose.
Flashback with me for a moment, if you will. I started attending a local church and became a member about two years ago. I was becoming very engaged and because I was so involved I met many friends. One of them being one of my truest and best friends yet, Chris. Around here on WordPress he’s known as the brilliant writer for Surviving the Specter. After you read this story, I would highly suggest you visit his page and familiarize yourself with his battles and victories.
Chris and I have known each other for about a year and a half now. Once you meet him, you instantly love his personality. He’s a fun guy to be around, can make you laugh and is a great drummer in Rock Band. Yeah I said it! LOL! Hey, every good Rock Band lead guitarist needs a good “Tommy Lee”. And that would be him. 🙂
He has always been a great listener. There have been times where I’d call for advice about my painful divorce or my estrangement from my mom and he was always there with the right words. Never hesitated to pray with me and would drop everything to be supportive. He didn’t always take a biased stance though. That’s too easy. He was real and fair when it came to my dilemmas. He would let me know where I might want to take a look at my own short comings. But he did it in a gentle loving way. Never did I get offended. He is a wise friend who I’m lucky to say has never turned his back when others may have. He’s been steadfast…he’s one of my best friends for life!
September 14, 2014 was a Sunday. That morning I texted Chris on my way to church to ask if he’d be going to service. His response was that he overslept and wouldn’t make it. I asked him if everything was ok and he texted back Yes with a happy faced smiley emoticon. I put my phone in my purse and headed into church. It was a good service that I recall. I had lunch with some friends afterwards and then stopped by the grocery store for food for the week. Came home and settled in for the day.
As I mentioned earlier, I had been nursing old wounds of the past and that day I isolated myself to deal with them alone. Painful emotions would creep in from time to time when I was alone and that day I cried as I thought about my broken marriage. I sobbed as I thought of my estrangement with my mother. Those were my two biggest emotional triggers and they could spring up on me at anytime. And that day, I didn’t call anyone. Not on the phone at least. I did look up and with tears streaming down my face I asked God to please let me hear Him. I remember telling Him that I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. I wanted Him to speak to me and show me that I was on the path He wanted me on and to show me what my purpose was. I was just emotionally drained. I remember shutting off all of my electronics so I could feel even more hibernated from the world and I decided to open my Bible. I sat and read scripture for awhile with the TV off in total silence in my house. It was deafening.
Around 10pm that night I started getting ready for bed. Locked up and shut all the lights off. I crawled into bed and something popped into my mind to turn my phone on. I had kept it off all day but I never have my phone off at night. I pressed the power button on my iPhone and waited for it to power on. Shortly, after it powered on and while I was still holding it, a text came through almost as in 3-D on my screen. It was from Chris and it was 10:12pm (I’ll never forget the time stamp). It read “Do you have any sleeping pills? I’m trying to die.” It took me a mega second to wrap my brain around what I just read but I knew enough to try and call him right away. I hit his number from my favorites list on my phone and started changing back into my jeans and t-shirt as I listened to the phone ring over and over with no answer. Voice mail. I was leaving a message as I was grabbing my purse and keys and running out the door. Got in my car and dialed again. Voicemail. I left another message. A message that told him to call me back. We could talk through whatever he was dealing with. I told him I was on my way and not to give up. Once that message was done I called back again. Over and over each time getting his voice mail.
I drove through the night to his apartment which is 45 minutes from my house on a good day. That night, I surpassed all speed limits on the highway. It wouldn’t shock me if I was going 90mph maybe even pushing 100mph at some points. I do know I got there in 20 minutes flat.
All the way there I did my best to push the panic out of my mind and the sick feeling from my stomach but it was only reinforced when I got to his apartment and ran up to the locked door with no answer to my banging and screaming his name. Through an open window I heard very loud metal music. I knew it was bad. The words coming through the window were as dark as the pitch black evening that night. On the brink of completely losing it, I took a deep breath and tried to think of a way to get in. I realized I could message his upstairs neighbor who was a friend of his. I did. She had a key THANK GOD! I asked her to let me in and she said “he’s probably sleeping, he asked me for sleeping pills earlier.” Although she didn’t give him any I showed her the text he’d sent me. She immediately put the key in the door and turned the knob.
We both walked in on a scene that was of a very broken, Chris. She was walking ahead of me and all I heard her say was “Oh My God I’m calling the police!” I walked around her toward the bedroom where Chris was. He was standing up but clearly intoxicated. He was staggering back and forth. It took me a second to realize he had a belt around his neck. He was tethered to his closet doorknob somehow. I was eerily calm inside but on the outside I must have been clearly shaken up because I couldn’t get my hands to grasp the belt around his neck to get it unhooked. I then decided I’d unhook the belt from the doorknob which took about three tries before I yanked it off. He had it on tight with zip ties so it was rather insanely difficult. That must be the adrenaline everyone talks about. Once the belt came loose from the knob, he started to fall. I braced his fall as much as I could but he took me down with him when he hit the floor. At that time I was able to see the belt hook more clearly and I was able to steady my hands enough to get it off. He was face down on the floor and starting to fall asleep. I remember I kept calling his name and telling him don’t fall asleep. “Wake up, Chris! No, you can’t fall asleep!” I asked him over and over if he could hear me. Clearly he couldn’t but I had to keep talking to him.
The cops appeared in his apartment after what seemed like hours but I think that whole thing must have only lasted a few minutes. I waited outside with his neighbor and a few others. I can’t describe the feeling that finally started creeping in when I watched him being carried out on a stretcher to the ambulance.
I remember that drive home at 2am. I don’t recall feeling anything but shock. I didn’t sleep that night and as soon as I could, I got dressed and went up to the hospital to see him. I recall being swamped with friends and his family hugging me and crying telling me how grateful they were. The word angel came up many times and I had a hard time viewing myself that way. I truly felt like I did what ANYONE would do. It didn’t seem to be a title I deserved. But I will say looking back, I walked into an apartment of a man that battled many demons that night. If I was able to thwart their success in taking his life then I will gladly be the warrior in that fight.
It was hard to see my best friend laying in ICU in restraints. I was actually nervous to go back and see him that morning. Pretty ironic since I should have been more fearful of what I saw the night before and although the scene was a scary one, I focused more on getting him help than admitting we could lose him.
One week later, I went to church and cried the entire time I was there remembering what had happened the week prior. I thanked God so many times for using me. I gave Him all of the glory. A song was played in church that hasn’t been played since and I will never forget it. Every time I hear it I can see the whole thing play out in my mind that night and then I realize WHO was in control that whole time. I’ve linked the video below. I would love for you to take the time to listen and read the words. The song is called Miracle Maker.
Today, Chris and I share a bond that will most likely last a lifetime. I believe God puts people in our lives for a reason. God showed me what my purpose was after I cried out to Him that I felt useless. Chris was battling his own sadness at the very same time. God works miracles everyday! Chris is a miracle!
You are loved by so many, Chris! You make the world a brighter place! Today, one year later, it’s a celebration of your life and you are a survivor! xoxox