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There will be peace in the valley for you and for me. What comforting words. I don’t know if you are like me, but I feel I have spent many days in the valley. Only now, do I realize there is peace in the valley.
Twenty-one years ago, my 22-year-old son committed suicide. Larkin was a Senior at Ole Miss…a Chancellor Scholar who went to Ole Miss on a baseball scholarship only to “tear up” his pitching arm his freshman year.
Each year, I say, “no more.” I am not writing about Larkin’s death. Facing the facts are almost more than I can bear. But, always, someone says:
- “Thank you for sharing your walk.”
- “I had no idea you are walking the walk of a deceased child.”
- “I had no idea your son committed suicide.”
- “I had no idea.”
- “Your words gave me strength and hope.”
If my story can encourage just one person to keep on pushing, then my heart can handle the hurts.
Many of you knew Larkin, but for the ones who didn’t…
He was one wild and crazy child! He loved people and was blessed with tons of friends. He was loud. He was fun. I thought he loved life and would never make a choice to leave.
Why would anyone who had so much going for him chose suicide? I will never know the answer, and through the years of searching and seeking, no answer comes.
When Larkin died, a million people gave me books! And let me tell you, I read those books because I thought maybe there was an answer in handling grief and accepting what happened.
One book that helped me was Surviving Grief and Learning to Live Again by Dr. Catherine M. Sanders.
I still refer to this book, and below are some things I learned from it.
Symptoms of the Awareness of Loss
- Sleep disturbance
- Fear of Death
Guilt is a natural byproduct of the grief process. I have dealth with and still do deal with guilt. I don’t think I will ever leave that stage.
Shame and fear of my child’s death continues to haunt me, but I soon realized the choice to live and embrace life or pull into a hole forever was mine to make. No one else could make that choice for me. If you are facing grief, my prayer is you will find the strength to choose life.
The hope of grief lies in our ability to grow. One cannot run from the pain of guilt.
Probably, some of you are thinking, “She’s got it easy now…she has accepted death,” but that is so far from the truth. As we grow older, grief changes. We process grief differently with the passage of time, but the hurt, the sting, the loneliness, the sadness, the confusion, and the helplessness never leave. We just learn how to manage.
The peace in the valley is in my soul. God, family, and friends have carried me for 21 years! Allow your friends to help you. Be kind to yourself. Scream, beat the walls, whatever helps.
We’re never really prepared for the loss of someone we love. As you search for peace, just remember that true peace comes from our Lord and Savior.
Back to Larkin!!!
In honor of Larkin, I decided to tell a story from his life! I’ve always said I was going to write a book but just couldn’t quite handle sharing. I think I will share in “parts”!
The book will be named “The War Daddy.” I heard this term for the first time at Larkin’s funeral. Larkin’s high school baseball coach, Winston Mullins, spoke at his funeral. When Winston said Larkin was a war daddy, I thought, “Oh mercy, what has he done now!” Winston explained that Larkin was the person you wanted on the mound when the game was tied. Larkin was the one you wanted quarterbacking when the game was on the line. Larkin wanted to win. He would do anything and everything for the win. He would go to war for his team.
I didn’t have money to buy my sons nice cars…or really any kind of cars at all. My sister and brother-in-law gave Larkin and Breck an old old Volkswagen! Seriously, the bug was awful, but it would run! To roll up a window, you had to manually move the handle around and around. The back seat (which was tiny) had springs sticking through the cushions. To open the trunk, which was located at the front of the car, there was only a piece of wire which would almost cut your hand off if you needed to open the trunk. The silver bullet was faded. On the back window was a “Grateful Dead” sticker. (I later learned that sticker brought a lot of attention to the bug.) I contacted Scott Wade about a paint job. Scott knew my money was tight, and he agreed to paint the bug if the guys would sand the car. We had a sanding party which was attended by most of Larkin and Breck’s classmates. Of course, Larkin just walked around greeting everyone while Breck and several friends worked themselves to death! The day came to take the bug to Scott. The color choice was baby blue or orange. The boys decided hunter orange was the best, and that is how we ended up with an orange bug!
(more details for another time)
Every day after school, Larkin, Breck, and Justin would load up following two-a-days and baseball practice. They each had a bunch of gear, and getting three bat bags, three sets of school books, stinky clothing and three teenage boys all in the bug wasn’t easy.
The bug would top out at about 65 mph—after that the shakes took over!
On the way home from SCA one day, an 18 wheeler passed the bug, causing it to swerve everywhere. Larkin was just trying to keep it on the road. Out the back window, an MPH car appeared with blue lights blazing. Now, one of the many side effects of the bug was that it didn’t always start! Breck spent many mornings pushing off the bug!
When the highway patrol officer walked to the car, he told the guys to get out of the car. Larkin informed him that if he cut the engine off it probably would not start without someone pushing it off. “Get out,” ordered the cop. Larkin told him again there could be a problem. He told them, “Don’t worry, I’ll push you off!”
As the boys spread their gear all over the side of the road, the patrolman continued his search. Nothing was found!
While they were loading back up, the patrolman told him to be careful! Well, Larkin looked at him and said, “You will have to push us off!” The officer got in position, and off they went. Larkin was no fool. He knew he had to pop the clutch to make things happen. Here they go, on the highway with the “large” officer pushing with all his strength. According to Larkin, Breck, and Justin, the MPH guy pushed for over a mile before they clutched!
…to be continued
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