24 Apr moments pass
Sometimes we find ourselves in a tough moment. Maybe we created it; maybe it was imposed upon us. Either way, it’s a bad one. We all have bad moments. Sad moments. Scary moments. Sometimes we land in a good moment. A great moment. A lovely one, a happy one. Moments. Our lives are filled with them… weddings, funerals, divorces, graduations, birthdays, losing baby teeth, learning to ride a bike, flying kites, getting a driver’s license. So many moments. Sometimes we can get lost in them and the way out seems very unclear. I’ve seen friends lose relationships and it has felt like the end of the world. Recently, a friend was fired from her job, without warning, without cause. Just fired. BAM! Another friend was stood up on a date only to hear later that the date was in a head-on collision and was hospitalized! True story, I saw the pics.
Moments, man. Some so painful we cannot see through the tears that cloud our vision and blind our hope. Here’s one of my moments. One that I couldn’t see my way out of… a crushing, unbearable moment. I remember begging the coroner to let me come see Mason. He refused. They aren’t set up for that but I couldn’t understand. I remember sitting on my kitchen floor, crumpled, phone in hand, not quite comprehending that I couldn’t see my baby boy. Ever again. My friend’s daughter came into the house just then, and knelt down to hug me right where I sat on the floor, in my little pile. I will never forget that moment, that hug. Through the fog of grief, shock, and disbelief, came a new moment of hope. I remember another moment… when I was looking through Mason’s phone weeks later, reading texts and notes. I found a poem he had written about me on Mother’s day. A treasure left behind; written proof of his deep love and respect for me. A good moment in a sea of yuck.
Seems so long ago now. So much has happened.
So many new moments have come and gone.
When I speak to students, I remind them that Moments Pass. I ask high schoolers to think back to their toughest moment of 8th grade… they groan and laugh and say “That was soooooo long ago!” Believe me, I know! Eight grade was 1985-1986 for me. A very long time ago, indeed. Can I think of my worst moment? Not really. Not specifically. I have some vague memories of getting in trouble but mostly I just remember the good stuff. I remember kissing a boy. I remember a pretty green dress I wore on picture day. I remember band practice. You know what my favorite memory is? Passing notes in the halls between classes. That’s a lost art.
I asked my friend Tina if she remembered a bad moment from 8th grade… she laughed! Sort of a bark laugh, sudden and uncontrolled. Tina is in her early 50’s so 8th grade barely registers in the memory banks now. I share this with teens because I want to paint a picture that illustrates for them how Moments Pass. Good ones and bad ones. What seems like the biggest, nastiest experience of your life in 8th grade will eventually fade away as you work through it, learn from it, and replace it with a thousand new moments. When I ask seniors how they feel about the worst moment of their freshman year, they laugh and look at the ground and mumble, “It wasn’t that big of a deal.” In fact, seniors look at freshman like parents look at their kids. We sort of shake our heads and wish they’d realize that it gets better and worse and better and worse because that’s just life. I encourage students to savor the good stuff. Push through the funk, the bad, the scary. We can do hard things. We are bigger and stronger than the moment. Moments Pass.
The aMasongrace project was started after I lost my only child to suicide. Although he didn’t meet the traditional criteria for self-harm or suicide, Mason ended his own life. In a moment. A bad moment. One he couldn’t see his way out of… I’ll never know what was going through his head at that moment. How could someone so bright, energetic, smart, courageous, and funny ever think ending his own life was the only move? I later learned that one in five teen suicides show no warning signs. None at all. So imagine that for a sec. One minute here, the next minute gone. Mason was the 1 in 5. He shocked the world with his exit. Whether the outcome of death was intentional or unintentional, his actions ended his life. Without warning. No premeditation, no plan. No second chance. I’ve lived in a nightmare since then and I am clawing my way through some pretty unbearable days. I started the aMasongrace project to put an end to this… this epidemic. This robbery of life. I started this project to help redefine the criteria for who is at risk for suicide. I am talking to the 1 in 5. I am telling them that their life has value, convincing them that they matter so very much. I am asking them to Please Stay. I am showing them that Moments Pass.
So how do you get in front of the ‘1 in 5’ when you don’t even know who they are?
Simple. You talk to everyone. You get into classrooms, assemblies, youth groups. You get Eldorado High School’s girls PE classes to help change the culture on their campus. You get Durango’s Student Council to hand out bracelets that read, “You Matter.” You get Desert Oasis High School to start an aMasongrace project on campus; a club that meets every Tuesday to plan the next cool ‘thing’ to do on campus. This week they chalked every single entrance with the three core messages of aMg: Moments Pass, Please Stay, and You Matter. Imagine entering your school and seeing these phrases in brightly colored chalk!
How do you reach the ‘1 in 5’? You meet with them, pour your heart out, look them in the eyes, and listen to their stories. You encourage them to spread the word, in their own language, within their peer groups. You talk to everyone. You blow up their social media… because that is where they live. You keep showing up. You hug them all, even the smelly ones! Even the ones covered in chalk dust! You hug and hug and hug. And you listen…
I’ve met cutters and survivors. I’ve met loners and self-described losers. I’ve met disabled students and football players. I’ve seen more brace faces in three months than an orthodontist sees in a year of practice. I’ve seen World Changers trapped in teenage bodies with raging hormones and I’ve seen self esteem so low I could step on it if I am not careful. I’ve received message from students (“Hey I’m the one you called a leader in Fifth period…) and pictures and ideas and thank you notes. I’ve met the cool kids and the kids who just think they’re cool. They’re all cool to me. Kids melt me. I can’t help it. I love them senselessly.
Today was the Nevada State Conference for Student Councils. The aMasongrace project was invited to have a booth and do a little meet & greet during their break between sessions. It was incredible to see so many student leaders have an interest in bringing the project to their school. They brought their advisors over to the table and we were able to share the goal of the project and gauge some interest in doing some school assemblies during Suicide Prevention Week in September. WOW. I’m so overwhelmed and thankful to cross paths with the right people at the right time, and have as many student advocates as I do! It’s their project, really. It’s for them, about them, and succeeds through them. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings…
The more we reach, the more will stay. That is the hope.
Moments like today are what keep me going. Seeing Mason’s friends as sophomores now and in leadership at their respective schools just fills my heart with joy. He knew how to pick ‘em. He surrounded himself with aMazing kiddos. They still look out for me too. I love that.
I hope these pictures fill your hearts with pride and your eyes with tears. I hope these pictures show you a different side to the teens of today. They feel best when connected to people and /or purpose. Don’t we all? They are making small changes in the way they communicate with each other and it is having an impact on the culture in their schools. They are demonstrating care and concern for each other’s safety. They just need to be encouraged. They need the words, the tools, the permission… they need the affirmation that they can change the world. I love when I see them celebrating their special moments on social media. They hashtag the aMasongrace project in pics that make them feel good. They want to celebrate their moments with me. What an honor.
No one is going to save us from our own life. We are the ones who get to revel in the joys and work through the pain. We each have our own journeys to make. Savor the good stuff, because good moments pass. Push through the bad stuff, because bad moments pass too. You are stronger than the moment you are in. Believe that.
*Next post: Please Stay.