May I go now?

ELYRIA -- Jessica N. Kinder, 13, of Elyria, died unexpectedly Tuesday, May 16, 2006, at her home. (p.s....she's the brunette)

I just got back from the wake of a thirteen-year-old girl who had no hope. The original story was that she had hung herself, but Courtney just called home to tell me that she had spoken to her mom and was told that she had actually taken a fatal combination of pills.

She looked so pretty laying there in the casket. You always hear people saying "oh, they looked so good." or "They did a really good job on them." and you they don't look good, they're dead! But this time it was true. All I could think was that she didn't even really look gone...she just looked like she was sleeping. She was still just a baby. She was born just a few weeks before Darren. They had boards of photos of her and it just kept hitting me in the heart that this could be one of my children. These photos were all so new...not old ones from the 50's, 60's or 70's....these were just taken in the 90's. And now she's gone. Just a vapor. Thirteen short years. I can remember when that seemed like a long time. Now it seems like nothing.

What makes a child lose hope? If anything, my children have seen enough and survived enough that they would be candidates for that. There but by the grace of God go I.

I took Courtney and her friends to the wake and I knew that I would have trouble not crying while I was there. I didn't really know her, but that's not the point...I still knew I'd have trouble. And I did. Actually I did okay until I saw her mom.

The story was that her dad had left when she was little and that recently her mom had sent her to live with her grandmother because her moms boyfriend decided he didn't want kids anymore. Supposedly, her suicide note said "no one is ever going to leave me again, because I'm leaving you." At first Courtney was so angry and bitter at her mother...and I can see why. But I've talked to her alot in the last several days about what torment that poor mother is probably going to go through for the rest of her life. Moms love their children(at least 99.9% of them do) matter what lapses of judgment they may have at any given time.

As I sat there trying to hold it together I kept watching her mother. I kept watching her face trying to judge her emotion and see if she was feeling the pain that I would be feeling. At first I found myself starting to become a little angry towards her too...she was showing no emotion. As a matter of fact, she was laughing at little jokes here and there and didn't seem affected much at all. I kept thinking...I know life goes on, but you'd probably have to dig a hole right next to my child to throw me into because I would be torn up. I wouldn't be sane. I kept praying over my attitude as I kept watching this woman...who wasn't much older than me. Then it happened. Someone called her up to the casket. She went up to greet them and gave them a hug and they whispered something in her ear...and she lost it. She broke down. All of the tears that she had been holding in burst forth like a dam broke. And then my dam broke too. As I watched her cry, I cried with her. And for her. I just kept thinking...she had her game face on before... and I understand that. I'm the champion of game faces. Trying so hard to be strong and held-together. I wanted to go up to her and hug her and tell her that she didn't have to be strong...not today...but she was surrounded by too many people for me to do that. I don't know who she felt the need to be strong for. Someone in her family maybe? Or maybe it's because so many people are looking at her like it's her fault, and because of the guilt she feels that people will look at her as if she doesn't have a right to grieve. But for that moment the dam broke. For that moment God reaffirmed to me that indeed mothers are mothers no matter what mistakes they've made. The compassion and heartbreak that I feel for her is too big to cover with mere words. God please comfort her heart and cover her with your grace.

This poem was from the inside of the memory card...

May I Go Now?
Do you think the time is right? May I say good-bye to pain filled days and endless lonely nights? I've lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be. So can I take that step beyond and set my spirit free? I didn't want to go at first. I fought with all my might. But something seems to draw me now to a warm and loving light. I want to go. I really do. It's difficult to say. But I will try as best I can to live just one more day. To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears. I know you're sad and afraid, because I see your tears. I'll not be far, I promise that, and hope you'll always know that my spirit will be close to you, wherever you may go. Thank you for loving me. You know I love you too, that's why it's hard to say good-bye and end this life with you. So hold me now, just one more time and let me hear you say, because you care so much for me, you let me go today.

In Memory
Jessica N. Kinder
January 26, 1993 - May 16, 2006