Since I've gotten pregnant, and I'm easily upset by things, I've tried to steer clear of news media and other disturbing images. However, I find that pretty difficult as I'm pretty politically active and like to think of myself as being pretty aware of news events.
A few days ago, I decided to give in and switch on CNN. I was immediately greeted with Caylee, the missing two-year-old from Florida. Then, of course, was the Madrid plane crash. That was enough news to last me quite some time.
Much later that night, as I was sitting and trying to figure out what to do about my financial aid, the phone rang. Usually no one ever calls that late except for my sister or me, and they call our cell phones. I answered to hear a bawling teenage girl on the other end of the phone. She asked to talk to my sister, and I said she was already in bed. The girl then asked if I could please wake her up because it was important. I thought it was kind of rude and weird, as I assumed someone had just broken up with her boyfriend, or some other melodrama was afoot and just had to be discussed at that instant - but I did it anyway.
However, minutes later, my sister emerged from her room carrying a box of kleenex. Her face was red, her eyes bloodshot and her cheeks were tear stained. "Jacob hung himself tonight," she choked through her sobs.
Images of a little boy with goofy glasses and tufted, blonde hair running around the preschool parking lot with his friends flashed through my mind. I'm seven years older than my sister, so I watched the two of them grow up as friends. They even "went out" in upper elementary school for a while.
Jacob's family has been involved in a lot of business in the area, so they are well-known. His grandparents and our grandparents were friends, and they were our neighbors for years.
Jacob's parents decided to leave the area and move to Florida to pursue some other business venture. Jacob didn't want to leave, and I remember the big, sad, farewell among my sister and all of their friends when he left. I guess when he was in Florida, he fell into the wrong crowd and started using drugs.
His parents decided to move back to Indiana, but not back to Jacob's school. He had to start all over again, addictions and all, in a new place. A lot of the friends he had grown up with had changed for the better and had grown up, but some started using, like him, and, as I understand, misery loves company. His other friends tried to help him, but he wouldn't change. My sister, being the girl of standards that makes us all proud, decided to part ways with Jacob (and the rest of her user friends) until they changed. That was last summer.
Just like several stories always surround suicides, as people try to make sense of why such a senseless act took place, many stories surround Jacob's death. Some say he got too deep into drugs and his parents threatened to kick him out. Others say his girlfriend broke up with him. Still others say that all of his 'misbehaving' was trying to get attention for his parents as a call for help. Whatever the case, a seventeen year old boy died, and the rest of us will never have the answers we are looking for.
When they printed Jacob's obituary in the newspaper, his picture was of a strung-out, hollow-eyed, shell of a boy with his black hood of his sweatshirt pulled up. I still couldn't shake the memories of his smile and his laughter and the way my sister blushed when she talked about him when they were younger.
Earlier today, I watched out the window as the longest funeral processional I've seen in a long time passed by our house on its way to the cemetery. I saw the car with the family, and then carload after carload of teenagers followed with boys and girls with tissues in their hands wiping their eyes passed as other traffic respectfully pulled to the side . Some cars had "RIP JACOB - WE'LL MISS YOU" painted on the back windows. My middle sister was with me. I said, "Do you think he would have gone through with it if he would've known how many people really did love him?" Before she could answer, I burst into tears and bellowed, "What a waste!" and had to walk away.
I couldn't get myself to believe that such a clean-cut boy from such an upstanding family fell so far to the wayside. And what could have been so bad that it forced him to take his own life?
I know suicide is so hard because everyone blames themselves. And I wondered as I watched the family's car creep reverently down the road what his mother was feeling as she buried her only son today. Was she angry? Was she feeling guilty? Or was she simply in shock like the rest of us?
To be completely honest, I'm horribly scared for this little baby I have inside to have to enter this world. And I know I'm not alone.
The fear of discomfort of waddling around at eight months pregnant, and the excruciating pain of child birth completely pale in comparison to the fear I have about being a parent.
Everyone thinks, "what if I'm a bad parent?!," but now I'm starting to wonder, can anyone ever be good enough?
I'm completely overwhelmed with thoughts, and I know it's mostly because I'm hormonally imbalanced. But I hate it when I see kids from such a great family fall so far away from the straight path. I know things aren't what they seem from the outside.
But my mother, for example, was a "problem child" in her late teens and twenties. In fact, I was conceived out of wedlock when she was 16, but my parents married before I was born...and divorced before they were 18. I personally know my grandparents (as they've raised me) and what kind of parents they are - and they are fantastic.
I know deep inside that we, as parents, have to just do our best, and leave the rest to God and have faith that what we taught them is enough. The world is just too much, and that's where the faith part comes into play.
I'm starting to see why mother's cry when they drop their children off at Kindergarten. The fear of letting go is already creeping up inside me, and my kid is only nine weeks old.