It has been four years, one month, and twenty-two days since I last heard my dad say, “I love you.” On December 14, 2010 I lost my daddy to suicide. I can still remember every detail of that dreadful day as if no time has passed.
I was working from home when my phone rang at 3:14 pm. It was my dad. I answered with my usual greeting and waited for a response. A hushed “I love you” was sighed from his lips. I instantly knew something wasn’t right.
“I love you, too, Daddy! --- Are you okay?” His response still haunts me… “I will be soon sweetheart.” His voice had an echo to it, like he was in a bathroom or a small space and I could tell he wasn’t himself. It was as if he had been crying for hours with barely enough strength to talk. I asked if he wanted to talk about it, but the conversation was cut short. He had somewhere to be, but just wanted to call me and say how much he loved me. Confused and slightly uneasy, I said goodbye to my dad for the last time.
A few minutes later my phone rang again. This time it was my grandmother. Our conversation was normal until she asked, “Is everything okay there?” I immediately started crying and told her that I wasn’t okay. I replayed the conversation I had just had with my dad and she started to cry… He had called her too and she was concerned. My next phone call was to my mom where I quickly found out that he had also called her, she too was uneasy about their conversation. It was as if he was checking people off of a list - which sent us all into panic mode.
My dad had struggled with depression for years. He was medicated, counseled, medicated some more, and even spent a week in a hospital to get help during my freshman year of college. All of our minds went to the worst-case scenario. We divided up and decided to search for him. My mom went to his office, my brother to hospitals and I went to their house to see if maybe he was there. No one was successful. An email from him sat on the computer, a mix of legal jargon and work happenings, but the thing that stood out most was the way he closed the email; “God forgive me…”
Hours later, ridden with anxiety, minds rolling with possible devastating outcomes we all (with the exemption of my then 13 year old sister who still hadn’t returned from her basketball game) reconvened at my parent’s house. The next 7 hours are a mixed blur of emotions. I spent time hiding in his closet behind rows of button down shirts and dress pants crying and praying that he was just taking a drive to clear his head. I prayed, and prayed, and begged God not to take my dad from me.
When my sister finally came home she stopped in her tracks as she walked into a room of friends and family who simply couldn’t hide their red eyes and distressed looks from their faces. She instantly panicked as I took her into her room and choked out the words, “We can’t find Daddy…” We sat in her room with sobs shaking out from our bodies. We hoped for the best, but deep down in our hearts, knew that something was very wrong.
I will never forget the shrieking cry that shot through the walls next. It was as if someone had grabbed my mother by the heart and shredded her every being. To this day, I think this will be the sound that fills the empty spaces of Hell. It was then that we knew… My dad was gone.
Four days later, on his 48th birthday, I read a letter to my dad as we celebrated his life at his funeral.
I suffered from depression and anxiety after his passing and was put on medications to help. I didn’t have the money to get proper counseling so, in a last attempt effort to pull myself together I started going to grief counseling at the Warm Place, a nonprofit organization in Fort Worth. It was through this counseling and the overwhelming love of my Heavenly Father that I was able to process and accept the death of my dad. I am now 100% free of antidepressants or medications and have never felt better in my life.
God has used this tragic story to drastically change my world, my heart, and my everything, for the better. However, if I could go back and change the events that unfolded on that fateful day, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
Please support me as I take an amazing journey. The Out of the Darkness Overnight Experience is an 16-18 mile walk over the course of one night. Net proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, funding research, advocacy, survivor support, education, and awareness programs – both to prevent suicide and to assist those affected by suicide.
I am walking to remember my dad. I am walking to give thanks for my life – a life that could have all too easily followed the same path. I am walking to raise awareness. I am walking to, hopefully, prevent someone else from this terrible death. I am walking because depression and suicide have shaken and transformed my family. My prayer is that every dollar earned will go to helping someone like me; recover from the loss of a loved one to suicide.
I know that reading this could not have been an easy thing to do, and I thank you for taking the time to do so. Thank you so much for your donations and love as we continue to walk on this journey together. We will never recover from the loss of my dad, but by the grace of God, we will live our lives to the absolute fullest as we remember the incredible man that he was, and do our best to honor his legacy.
You can donate by visiting our team page "Galen's Legacy." Your gifts will not only allow us to walk for this amazing cause, but will also help others like myself as they deal with the effects of suicide in their lives.