This weeks blog has highly sensitive material. If you have thoughts of suicide or suffer from suicidal ideation, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS WEEKS BLOG! HIGH TRIGGER WARNING
On Monday evening, I did a podcast about Aria Joy and my activism with suicide prevention and awareness. One of the co-hosts, Glaiza, has been a friend of mine for years. She started “Work In Progress” with her friend Francine (Check out WIP on Instagram) I will keep you posted on when the podcast will air. While we were recording the show, it stormed heavily. We walked out the back door and we immediately were blown away by how bright and beautiful it was. I turn to my left eagerly because I knew it had to be there……right above the studio was a beautiful rainbow…….Hi Bug!
I got the questions for the podcast on Sunday evening. I got a pit in my stomach while opening the email, “Don’t ask, don’t ask, please don’t ask.” I took a sigh of relief, when I realized it wasn’t on there. While doing the podcast, our conversation was fluid and organic, yet, there were some questions asked that were not on the list of questions from the email. Which happens when you are having raw, fluid and important conversations. However, the whole time, I was sweating, “Don’t ask, don’t ask, please don’t ask.” They didn’t, phew. As I left, I started to think about the “podcast’s” and “conversational tables” I have coming up. Along with promotion for Shout Out Loud! Eventually, someone is going to ask, where does DO YOU CARE NOW come from? What does it mean? Why do you call it that?
As I am writing this, I am shaking. This is as vulnerable as it gets for me. This is the hardest thing I will have to say on this blog. I knew I would have to tell you all at some point because it is apart of Aria’s story. I decided on Monday evening actually, early Tuesday morning, that its time for ME to tell you now. Before it comes out from another media source. You all need to hear it from me.
As I told you all last week, Aria was sick on Monday, February 4th. She came home early, I let her sleep all night. What I didn’t tell you is that on Monday, I got an email from her Math teacher, Aria was failing. We had done everything we could. Her math teacher was meeting Aria at 7:15am on Mondays, because I had to be to work at 7:30am and it was the only time I could get her to school in the am. Her teacher went over and above to accommodate to make sure that Aria was getting the help she needed. 7:15am is 2 and a half hours prior to school starting. Her math teacher was/is incredible. Aria loved her, but hated math. Anyways, that Monday, her math teacher suggested she switch classes starting Tuesday, February 5th so she can get more one on one attention, I agreed. On Tuesday morning, after I kissed Bug and left for work, I called her at 8:20am, like I did every morning to make sure she was up and getting ready for school. She sounded a lot better. Didn’t seem sick. She asked if I could take her to Target after school so we could buy a present for her best friend’s birthday, which was on Thursday, February 7th. I reminded her I couldn’t because I was working at Bunny’s that evening and she was going to spend the night at Nonnie Gini’s. She was receptive and understanding. She had recently started spending Tuesday nights at my moms so she could get more help from another teachers early Wednesday mornings. I couldn’t drive her because of my work schedule. My mom or Gary drove her to school on Wednesdays. While Aria and I were on the phone, I remembered.
“Oh Bugs, I forgot to tell you, I talked to Ms. I, yesterday and we are going to switch your math class”
“What? No Mom, Why?”
“Bugs, we have done everything we could up until this point. We need to get your grades up, you can’t fail. You are starting high school next year. This is serious.”
“Mom, I can’t switch classes. I’ll look dumb. Please, mom, don’t make me do it.”
“Aria, its already done. Its starting today. Ms. I, is expecting to change you today”.
Aria hung up the phone.
I got a call from her after school. Nonnie and Papa were picking her up to take her to our cousin’s hockey game. It was snowing like crazy, btw, driving was dangerous. She was pissed. She didn’t want to go. She wanted to go to Target. She then asked if one of her friends could come with and I told her and my mother, NO!
Later that evening after the hockey game, Aria called to talk to me about the change in math class.
“Aria, we have done everything we could up to this point. I don’t know what to do?
“Mom, please, I will do anything if you talk to Ms. I and get me switched back into the other class. I’ll stay after school every day. Please, don’t make me switch.”
“Bug, I have made up my mind. I don’t care what I have to do to get you back on track. Even if that means you going to school early and staying after school every single day. I don’t care if I have to take away your phone, I don’t care if I have to switch every class so you have no distractions from friends.”
Immediately Aria’s tone changed, she started to yell
“You don’t care, you don’t care? How could you say that?”
I said, “Aria, I will not talk to you when you are yelling at me like this. Why don’t you call me back when you have mellowed out and we can have a conversation?”
She hung up the phone. She then called back 3x in a row and I didn’t answer. I figured she needed a few minutes to settle down. As did I.
By her 4th call, I answered. It had been about 10 minutes.
“Mom, how could you say you don’t care?”
“Buggy, you are not understanding where I am coming from. I care SO MUCH that I am willing to do what ever it takes to get you back on track. I meant; I don’t care what I have to do in order for you to succeed in school. Even if that means I quit my job. Take away friend time. WHATEVER!
Aria then said, “Why didn’t you say it like that?”
“Bugs, we were both in a moment of heated discussion. You perceived what I said differently than how I intended it.”
Her crying stopped and she seemed to understand where I was coming from.
“Mom, I don’t want to switch classes, please.”
I said, “Buddy, its already done. For now, let’s spend the next couple of weeks in this class. If you make drastic improvements and you feel confident you can stay on top of the work; I will talk to Ms. I and see if she’d be willing to switch you back. Does that work?
“Yes, I guess”
“Buddy, we all just want what’s best for you and want you to succeed and feel good about your work.”
At this point it was about 10:20pm. Aria stated that she was tired and that she was ready for her evening ritual (a bowl of microwaved popcorn) and was ready for bed. We both said our I love you’ s and I told her I would take her to Target the next day.
From my previous blog “3 Months” I posted the text she sent me right before bed at around 10:47pm
“Love you, Good night mom.”
“I love you too, goodnight.”
Like I had expressed in the Life Changing Calls blog, when I got a call from Papa Gary or Bunny’s, I was not alarmed. Until, he told me what happened. Because of the weather, it took me about an hour to get there. When I got there, I didn’t want to see her, I was too scared. But as I expressed before, I held her beautiful little cold hand while they wheeled her away. After she left, I walked into her room, where the completion happened. I cried and wept and looked for signs of her or from her. When I looked at the closest……….I fell to my knees.
In writing with purple eyeliner, she wrote:
“Do You Care Now?”
There are no words. There is no comprehension. Those are 3 words I wish I could take back more than anything. It gut’s me. But its our truth.
I don’t know what else to say.
Aria Joy, I always cared. Every fucking second, you were my all. Although, I was busy with school and working. My goal was to give you the life you deserved. It was me and you, kid. You were my light and my reasoning for everything that I did. My heart breaks to know that you felt invalidated by me, your mother, at your most vulnerable moment. I apologize profusely. As shitty as it makes me feel to tell people, this is your story, buddy. I’m going to be honest every step of the way. I could have done better. I could have done a lot better. But I did the best I could with the circumstances we were dealt. My promise to you is that I will make sure parents know that children can interpret our words differently than how we mean them. Be aware, be mindful of the words you say to others but most of all, our children. I thought by using those words she would see how invested I was. But she didn’t, she saw it totally different from how I meant it. I love you and miss you so much that some days I can barely catch my breath. But I will honor you every moment for the rest of my life. I believe you will change the system and raise awareness while helping parents, schools, and mental professionals reevaluate what suicidal ideation looks like. Your light is so bright. I was just lucky to know you, let alone be your mother. I love you more than anything Aria Joy Burch Senser.