My name is Brenda
I am a suicide survivor
I have thought long and hard about writing this story.
Even after almost 7 years, it is still difficult at times trying to explain
how I felt then and how I feel now! I guess the time to start
would be on August 24th, 1990. I went to bed that night not knowing
that the nightmares were soon to begin. My son Charles woke me up
just a little after midnight, saying he thought something was wrong with
Tanya and he was scared she had taken some pills. I got up, went in the
front room and there she was at the table writing a letter and a pile of
pills sitting in front of her. I sat down, picked up the pills and put
them back in the bottle and asked her how many she had taken so far. She
said she wasn't sure, so I woke my husband and he called Tanya's psychologist
and the hospital. Tanya was in no condition to talk as she had been drinking
and was very upset. Between us all, we got her to the hospital where
they pumped her stomach and admitted her for observation. Tanya did
okay the rest of the night and I was even able to talk to her about
things after a few hours. We made plans for what she needed to do
when she got out. She had been on Prozac before but had gone off. She was
going to start seeing the psychologist again and together we were going
to work on her problems.
February 19, 1991
I got a phone call..."No..please God...not again." Michelle
had overdosed, her husband told me. What should he do? I drove to their
house 100 mph yelling for the EMS people on the way (The station was across
the street from her house.). Michelle was just sitting there on the floor.
"Mom, I'm so sorry. I didn't want to hurt you." Michelle went into seizures,
we followed the ambulance to the hospital. "No, he can't let me lose my
only other daughter." I decided this time it would be different. I went
to the chapel and I prayed so very hard. Again the call for the helicopter.
I walked beside her cot as they loaded her on board. She smiled and said,
"Mom, it'll be okay". We drove to Wichita, stopping along the way to tell
my mother. I kept telling myself..no, no...He won't let it happen again.
They had Michelle in ICU with tubes running everywhere. She couldn't talk
but she was conscious and wrote notes to me. When I wasn't in her room,
I was downstairs in the chapel. I figured I'd pray a lot this time and
it would make the difference. It did....for 5 days! I finally left Wichita
to go home and get Michelle's books from college where she was attending.
Also I needed to see her babies. Kayla was just 4 years old, Alicia was
2 years, and Joshua was 8 months. When I got home from the college, Jim
told me the hospital had called. Michelle was worse. When we arrived back
in Wichita, Michelle was in a coma. The doctors came to me two days later
and said I needed to start thinking about unplugging Michelle from the
machines. "God...how does a mother make that decision?" It was taken out
of my hands two days after that when Michelle left to follow Tanya. She
had followed her during their childhood and she followed her again. She
had lived 10 days before her lungs completely gave up. The pills she had
taken had been pumped out okay but when she had gone into seizures, she
had aspirated vomitus into her lungs and she developed pneumonia. My next
few years were a blur. I'm not sure to this day of everything I did during
that time. I know I went to a few Compassionate Friends meetings. They
do help but at the time I wasn't ready. I only knew that I had failed
as a Mother. I must have, you see. Otherwise why would 2 daughters feel
the need to take their life. I kept busy trying to figure out what exactly
I had done wrong. Why was God punishing me? I blamed nobody else except
me. I have heard that the pain gets easier in time. I think you only learn
to live with it.I even felt guilty for not having a mental breakdown. People
would tell me, "Oh, how strong you are"..I felt guilty for being strong,
for being a survivor. My son Charles has had to live with my paranoia of
losing him. He is a great son and never leaves my house without saying,
"I love you." This was pretty hard on him and on many others besides. Yes..I'm
a survivor.. But, it's hard work and I still live one day at a time.
There are still certain smells, certain music, that takes me back. I still
have Tanya's 'Hope Chest' full of memories .Once a year or so now, I open
it up and I can still smell both girls on their things. Well, I've written
some of the things that were in my heart and if this helps anyone at all
then the writing of it will have done some good. I will be doing some other
pages on suicide in the future and I hope it helps someone somewhere not
to go ahead with their plan of taking their own life. Someday, I may write
of that last letter that Tanya was writing the night she took those pills.
I still have a difficult time when I read that. It was so beautiful. Also,
of the many notes that Michelle wrote to me before she went into the coma.
She wanted to live so much but was afraid she was dying. She just kept
writing, "Mom...I love you and I'm so sorry."
However, things did not go exactly as planned.
At 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning we got the message to return to the hospital.
Tanya's heart had stopped. The pills she had taken was a heart pill called
"Calan". The purpose of these pills were to slow down the heart rate and
they were time-released. They all hit her system at one time and made her
heart stop beating. From this point on it's still a bit blurry. I remember
asking them to bring my other daughter to the hospital. I remember hearing
the doctor in the next room giving orders and trying to get Tanya's heart
going again. I remember somebody told me they had called for a helicopter
to fly her to Wichita. I remember sitting on a couch holding Michelle in
my arms and the helicopter attendants leaving without Tanya. It was too
late. They had lost her. I remember going to her room to say goodbye and
she was so cold. The next few days, I just survived. I don't know how to
explain them. People stopped by, Michelle and Charles called friends to
let them know. Jim and I went to the funeral home to make arrangements,
Michelle and I went to pick out a stone. So much to do and all you really
want is to lay down and never wake up again! You tell yourself, this is
all a dream. Mothers don't bury their daughters. It's supposed to be the
other way around. I asked myself so many times..."What did I do wrong,
I should have seen it coming." I survived. I'm not sure how, but
I survived. I spent time in Tanya's room asking myself so many questions
and smelling her clothes. I never thought this would be something that
was done..but it is. I went back to work and tried not to cry everytime
someone spoke to me. I came home, ate and went to bed..I think I kept pretending
nothing had happened. The doctors call that Denial. But when Tanya's birthday
came up 3 weeks after she died, I thought I would never get through it.
I did. Then, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I couldn't understand why
people wanted to still celebrate. I hated the holidays. I kept telling
myself that I wouldn't cry anymore. Surely I had no more tears left, but
they came from somewhere. My family did everything they could to help but
all I could manage was to read every book I could get my hands on dealing
with afterlife. I didn't know where she was. I hadn't grown up with
the church and didn't even know how to pray. But I tried.
I love you both and I too am sorry that
our life together was so short. I look forward to the day when we will
all be together again. This was done for both of you and just always remember
no matter what... I Love You!