On August 8, 2012 my only child took his life. He was 19 years old. Drey was – and still is – my pride and joy.
I originally started “A Friend on the Walk” as a blog with help and support from my loving husband, Robbie Graham. Robbie had been reading some of my journaling since Drey’s death and encouraged me to begin a blog. My longer-term goal is to launch a non-profit organization that is dedicated to postvention… helping those bereaved by a suicide loss learn to live again.
Robbie and I met in 2003 and married in 2004. We had both been married before and each had one son. Drey was 10 when we married and Robbie’s son David was 5.
When Robbie and I married we knew our individual decision to follow the Lord was foundational to a healthy marriage. During our marriage we pursued the Lord – sometimes passionately sometimes not. We lead a Divorce Care support group, we are both involved as bible teachers in a small group setting.
On Mother’s Day 2011 we went to the west side sphere of our church (our church is quite large so there are several meetings around central Ohio). This was a first for us. We had always attended the main campus location. The west side sphere of our church reaches some of the more impoverished areas of Columbus. Little did we know this small decision was just the beginning.
In the Fall we decided we wanted to move to the west side. Our house sold FAST… and we found an awesome home right smack in the middle of the hood. We moved in on December 17, 2011. This was a HUGE change from our suburban surroundings of Worthington, Ohio but we felt we were ready.
As if that wasn’t enough – also in Fall 2011 a job opportunity came up at Central Ohio Youth for Christ – an organization my husband and I had supported and been involved with for several years. I resigned from my position as VP of Marketing at Cheryl’s Cookies and waited to hear news of the grant that would fund the position at COYFC. The grant was approved in May and I joined the team in June, 2012. COYFC works with at-risk teens and has a big presence and impact on the west side youth.
I must confess I was adjusting rather poorly to a shit-ton of changes. I missed my job, my coworkers, my old church friends. I missed being able to jog in my safe Worthington neighborhood.
And then my world as I’d known it came to an end. A complete abrupt NOTHING ELSE MATTERS stop. Wednesday morning, August 8th 2012 my husband had a text message from Drey when he woke up. “Thanks for always being a great stepdad.” There was a text message for me, too. I had rec’d it at 1:40 a.m. and read it at 7:00 a.m. “Hey I love you.” That was it. 4 words. Sometimes Drey was melancholy, reflective. I tried not to overreact. I looked out back to see if his car was parked here (even though he was living at his Dad’s sometimes he stayed at our house). No car. I went to his room. No Drey. I looked out front for his car. Not there. I checked his Facebook page. Nothing concerning there. I prayed. I reached for the phone and texted him back at 8:15 a.m. And I prayed some more. I went to work. I got the call at 11:20 a.m. It was Drey’s Dad and Stepmom. I knew before he said a word. But what I thought I knew wasn’t the full truth. I thought Drey had attempted suicide but he was still alive. I drove fast. I drove like a maniac. I screamed the whole drive. I yelled for God to keep him alive the whole way. But when I arrived there were only cop cars everywhere. There was no ambulance. I ran. I yelled. I scanned the small crowd of teenagers gathered in front of his Dad’s house. “Where’s Drey? Where’s my baby?” No sign of Drey. The police wouldn’t let me in the house. “Where’s the ambulance!” I screamed desperately. “Mam, he’s already passed.” A police officer delivered the news. The most dreadful news of my life. No parent should ever have to hear those words.
So here I am. Devastated, lost, despairing. God how I miss my son. I grieve, “heal,” listen, blog, pray, talk, cry, teach, worship, love and somehow I even laugh.