By Lauresa Woolfolk
Friday, January 9, 2004: The Last Day
I’ll never forget that day; it was the last day I saw my best friend’s face. We were in the 8th grade, and we were ending the academic day to begin our weekend. Originally, he was going to spend the evening with a mutual close friend and me, but he opted to go home.
In retrospect, Sean didn’t seem fine, but the excitement of our school’s sporting events clouded my judgment and ability to be the friend I believe he needed at that time. I can still see his face and hear the soft tone of his voice; to this day, I struggle to forgive myself for that moment. I wish I could have those few minutes back.
Saturday, January 10, 2004: The Call
Every Saturday morning, four of us would wake up, early as we did on a school day, to have a 4-way conversation. However, that morning was different. I was at my cousin’s house and opted to call Sean individually. He answered the phone.
As I write this, I can hear the timbre of his voice: he was obviously dejected. The conversation lasted a few minutes; he told me he’d call me back because he was cleaning his room. I never heard Sean’s voice again.
Sunday, January 11, 2004: The End
I arrived home in mid-afternoon. I received a voicemail from my friend, Sara. I immediately returned her call. Her mother answered the phone. She said, “Some kid at your school named Sean died.” She told me to call Sara at her aunt’s house. I immediately called Sara. With confusion in my voice, I said: “Sara, your mom said some kid at school named Sean died, Sean who?”
There was a slight pause. With a somber tone, she said, “Quigley.” At that moment, everything around me stopped. I was numb. There was a deafening silence in the room. I ran out of my house, to my friend’s house. I barged through the front door, ran up the stairs, and sat in the corner of her room.
With confusion and worry on her face, she looked at me and asked, “what’s wrong?” After telling her what transpired, she confirmed what I refused to believe. Still not willing to accept what I’ve been told, I fearfully called Sean’s house. His father answered the phone. My manners ceased, so with demand and worry in my voice I said, “can I speak to Sean?” He asked to speak to an adult.
To this day, I’m not sure what Mr. Quigley said to my friend’s mom, but I’ll never forget the look on her face. She never uttered the words, but at that moment I knew it was real. I knew my friend was dead.
Life is never the same after losing someone to suicide, but you must give yourself time to heal. It’s important to receive help through the grief process. You must commit to your healing. Then, in time, you’ll cry one less tear.
Each day, you’ll learn to live with what has happened and learn to find your joy again. Your smile will return in the midst of the pain, and you’ll find your strength. You can survive; it’s going to get better. I’ll never “get over” Sean’s death, but it’s important to maintain adaptive coping strategies as I continually heal.
Until his death, I never knew what suicide was or what it meant. Adolescents need to hear the word “suicide” and know what it means.
If I would’ve known, if we would’ve known, we could’ve saved him.
We never knew he needed saving until he was gone.
Sean died by suicide on January 11, 2004. He was 14 years old. In my heart, my friend, you’ll live forever. I love you, Sean.