Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reflections on the Past

I went to the cemetery today.

My best friend, Denise Marie Clark, was born 32 years ago Valentine's Day. She only walked on this earth for 14 years. For reasons that remain her own, she took her own life on Oct. 16, 1991. We were just into our freshman year of high school. I cried at her grave today.

The fall of 1991 was filled with life-altering moments for me. I started high school in August. Always terribly shy (and according to my freshman health teacher, introverted), I BEGGED my mother not to make me go. I did great as a student, but the required social interactions were terrifying to me (I am still not sure how I managed so well).

About 3 weeks into school I started dating a guy that I had pined over for almost a year. I am still not sure what I was thinking......probably wasn't, but he decided that I wasn't "enlightened" enough and it ended just about as quickly as it started. He made sure that all his friends knew about my "inexperience". A couple forward ones were kind enough to tell me. I was devastated.

I went to homecoming with a girl-friend. I clearly remember that evening trying to talk Denise into coming with us. She had a fight with some other girls earlier that evening and had come for the football game but decided not to stay for the dance afterwards. Waving goodbye to her still haunts me.

She took her own life on the following Monday morning. I never talked to her again. I found out from some gossiping people at school. Sat with another friend and cried on the school steps. Never occured to me that I could go home. I even went to school the day of the funeral. We left school and went to the funeral, graveside, dinner and then all trooped back to school like good little students. Why did we do that? What were our parents thinking?

Denise is buried on a hilltop near her childhood home way out in the middle of nowhere. The road is barely gravel. As I drove out there today I remember what it felt like driving out there then. It was cold that day. My friends and I huddled together at the graveside (the funeral was held at the Catholic church - the first time I was ever in a Catholic church). I remember not wanting to intrude upon the grief couldn't be as intense as theirs. I remember the drive back to town. The ladies of the church that served us lunch were very insistent that we all ate......and we did. I realize now that we were all in shock. How could this happen?

I have always wondered why she felt that she had to do that and why I missed that she needed help. The guilt of being a terrible friend has laid heavy on me. I miss my friend terribly.

Today I cried. The whole way to the cemetery and the whole time I was there. It was cold today too. I was all alone as I straightened flowers and asked why. All alone at that little cemetery. I cried more today than I think I ever have. Something inside of me let go.

My thoughts turned to those few months in the fall of 1991. Looking back I see that those things that happened impacted my life. I don't remember the rest of my high school years as clearly as I remember those 2 months. I learned survival by burying my feelings. I learned to never trust. I learned that things must sometimes be done in order to keep relationships (however wrong that thinking was). I know now that those things aren't true, but the damage done by my thinking during those years has haunted me the rest of my life. I am trying to overcome, but I am not sure that I ever will.

My God is a god of new beginnings. Today I think that I have finally laid my past, all the horrible things, experiences and decisions at that cemetery on the top of that hill in the middle of nowhere. God has granted me an opportunity to start over emotionally. I can make decisions based on God's will in my life. I am worthy of good things. My life has meaning.

Thank you for listening to my rambling. I have no doubt that it has no applicable meaning to anyone else, but I wanted to be able to look back - have my children look back and know that I was able to let go of my doesn't have to haunt us (ME) forever. God is merciful - great - and worthy to be praised. God is powerful and strong. God overcomes the terrible things that sin brings into our lives. My god is an AWESOME God!


Sheri said...

Carie-first off, thanks for sharing that. Several of us have had someone we know commit suicide. There will never be an answer to you question of why. Never. If you could talk to her today-she would most likely say the same thing-she had no idea why. Some get so low, they just want the pain to end-but she took that reason for her pain with her. It was something that had been brewing for a very long time-very long time. Frankly-suicide is selfish and her actions had direct negative effects on several, several people. You were what? 14 or 15 years old? No way you could have "picked" up on anything being amiss. You are not responsible for someone else's actions and you are right-God will and can heal this scar in you. Lifting you up in prayers dear. Good that you were able to weep and start to truly heal.

Joy Comes in the Morning said...

I too lost a dear friend in high school. It wasn't a suicide, but a car accident. Those wounds are so hard to heal. I spoke to him about 10 minutes before the accident. I even drove up on the accident. It was a horrific night that will always replay in my mind. But that night changed me in so many ways. It was kind of a grow up now lesson. I changed everything in my life. My friends, my hobbies, everything. Everything that didn't make sense or didn't have a purpose. I remember thinking things are different now and that is ok. God will direct me. And of course he did. I am convinced that the night of the accident brought me to where I am today. Had I not gotten my head straight then, I would not cherish all that I have today. It taught me to be thankful and know that I am blessed. I often visit my friend's grave site as well. It has been 13 years. It still makes me cry but I try to just learn from it everytime. Sorry, I am rambling. Your story just struck a chord with me. Blessings

Crystal said...

I am so proud of you! You are allowing God to show you pain that you needed to deal with. What a giant step in the right direction!

God is sovereign despite the fact that we sometimes never understand why He allows certain circumstances to occur. Thankfully He always sees the bigger picture.

Hopefully, this will bring closure and peace helping you to move forward in the peace of Christ.

Keep searching my friend, God will keep showing you areas to let Him clean up!! I am so excited for you!!!

Kelly Ross said...

Carie I remember Denise from going to Catholic gradeschool with her. She always seemed very shy and to herself. I thought it was neat that her birthday was on Valentine's Day. I too remember that terrible day that she died. All I could think of was I ever mean to her or I should have been friendlier to her in school. After she died I remember seeing her mom at Church and feeling so sorry for her. I can't image the pain a mother goes through when her child kills themself. My uncle killed himself about 10 years ago and I remember thinking the same thing, what could I have done different. But I think that someone who kills themself has a troubled spirit and maybe there is nothing anyone can do sometimes. I haven't seen Denise's family in a long time, one reason proably because I go to the Christian Church now instead of St. Thomas, but I hope they have found some peace. All I can think to do is pray.