Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Yesterday, on the way back into the lab after crayfishing, we saw a police car in front of one of the dorms. Naturally, we assume it is a pot smoker or something small.

A student had killed himself in his dorm. This weekend. They had just found him.

We received an email from the president of the University with the vague details that were just enough to piece it together. Your heart breaks for the family, the friends.

All of a sudden, I was taken back to 2001. When it was me. It was me who had to deal with the aftermath of suicide.

All you ever want is answers, answers that you will never get. I remember being the one that people looked to for those answers. I was the one who was closest to him. I should know the answers.

I had none.

That made me angry. And that made me feel guilty. Here were all these people, hurting, grieving, grasping for peace and solace. I had nothing to give them.

So not only did I feel guilty for the fact that someone had taken their life and I didn't see it coming, not only did I feel guilty that they said it was basically because of me....I had nothing to comfort these people. Family. Friends. Everyone.

Now, there is a fresh wave of people who have to get through the same thing.

I wish I had answers for them, but I don't.

The hurt, the guilt, the anger....it never goes away. Somewhere along the line, you stop looking for answers, you stop trying to fix what is broken, and you just learn to live in it. You learn to cope and this horrible terrible time becomes a part of who you are. You walk with it every day, carrying it. Sometimes it's heavy. Sometimes it's not. There are good days. The good days start to outweigh the bad, and it just becomes....there. It's just there.

And then there are those days, when you hear about it happening to someone else and your heart breaks all over again. You know. You know that there are people out there that are thrown into this private hell that has no map to get out. You just have to start walking and grasping.

You get no answers. You get no absolution. Suicide is different than other deaths. It's different in that you know that person was obviously hurting and unhappy. No one should die like that. It's different than losing someone to disease or to an accident. Those situations are demons of their own, but those people, you can see the happiness. For suicides, your last impression of this person is that pain. That anger. That hurt.

You get nothing to erase it. Everything becomes tainted.

Right after suicide wrecked my life for the second time, I became paranoid. I didn't want to make new friends. I didn't want the old ones, but I needed them. All I saw was this darkness and everyone had the potential to hurt me.

Now, as a mother, I am terrified. What if it becomes my son that is unhappy? It's extremely paranoid, I know. It's insane. It's something to be dealt with. But how can I be sure I raise a son that won't do that? That won't put that kind of pain on someone else? On me? On his loved ones?

You can't. You can't ever know. You never get answers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Recently on Facebook, I saw a post about Amanda Todd, the teenage girl who committed suicide, provoked by bullying. Most of the comments were sympathetic and supportive. However, there were a few that lashed out, not at the bullies, but at the teen's parents, asking where they were through all this, while their daughter was hurting The story in itself is heartbreaking. But to attack parents in their time of grief and heartache, in my opinion makes them a monster of a special kind. MONSTERS.

I remember being a teenager. It was hard. And let's be honest, it sucked. You are going through a major growing phase of your life, physically, emotionally, and mentally. If that's not hard enough, you are crammed into a school with others going through the same changes. Throw in a small town and it's worse. I remember that everyone knew everything about everyone in my school. Rumors flew left and right. Throw social media into the mix, and there goes your escape at home.

You know what else I remember being about a teenager? Your parents are the enemy. You think they don't understand. I was a happy teenager, and I still holed myself up in my room to avoid parental contact. My parents probably still don't know half the stuff I did.

So how were the parents of this poor girl to prevent this from happening? Did they do a lesser job of parenting, then oh...say, the parents of the bullies?

I'm teaching this upcoming generation, what is it now, Z? This generation relies too heavily on this sense of entitlement and lack of accountability. "You didn't email me to remind me that the paper was due". No, but it was on the printed syllabus you took in your hand.

They hide behind this shield of false anonymity that comes with email, facebook, and twitter. They are growing up in a world that basically discourages face to face communication and makes them think they are invincible. If I spoke to teachers or other adults the way some of these kids do, my mom would have smacked me silly. And if Isaac spoke that way, I would do the same. You know who else hides behind that anonymity? Trolls on the internet who say parents should know when their children are hurting. What do you think the parents of those trolls would think of that? Would they be proud? Doubtful.

I don't condone suicide. I don't ever believe it is the answer. Ultimately, it is the decision of one person only and that person is the responsible one. No one else is to blame for that. Do I believe that other people can influence that decision? Yes, because I have been that person. I have been the person that hurts someone. Did I know that I was hurting them? Yes Did I know that they were suicidal? No. No I didn't. And to this day, I still don't see the signs that everyone says you should see.

Suicide has hit my life too hard, twice. I don't wish it upon anyone to deal with it. Death, especially of a child, is hard enough to deal with. Death of your child knowing that they were in such unimaginable pain that they saw no other escape...I can't even fathom. I love my son so much it literally hurts sometimes. I hate it when he falls down and hurts himself. I hate it when he cries. How could I deal with knowing he was in that kind of pain? I couldn't. When suicide hit my life, all I needed was compassion. If anyone thought that the person killed themself because of me, they kept it to themselves. You're looking for a reason, but you don't want it to be you. You want answers, but ultimately you don't get one better than the person was unhappy and in pain.

Monsters. They are monsters. No matter how it happens, death needs to be grieved. Those parents are in a kind of hell that no one should ever have to be in. Those parents need compassion, support, and love. No matter how their child died, they need compassion. It's not normal or right for a parent to bury a child. It  goes against  nature and sequence.

They probably also want to smash things. I suggest the fingers of those saying they should have known what was happening.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Double Dose of Goodness: Crock Pot Chicken Sandwiches and Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Last week flew by, and before I knew it, I owed D two new recipes. So here they are.


What you need:

4-5 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up into chunks.
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use the heart healthy version from Campbells)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
bread crumbs
Burger buns (I use whole wheat)

Optional: Lettuce, cheese, tomato...any sandwich toppings.

What you do:

Put chicken breast into crock pot. Add cream soup, and season to taste with garlic and onion powders and pepper. Cook on high for 2 hours, until chicken is cooked through. Shred chicken using two forks or whatever method works best for you. Add bread crumbs to thicken mixture, usually about 1/2 to 1 cup depending on preference. Then all you do is build the sandwich!

The next recipe I made for lab meeting this week. It's super easy and versatile.


What you need:

1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz of fruit jam or jelly (I like raspberry)

What you do:

Combine flour, baking soda, and butter in a large bowl until coarse crumbs form. Mix in oats. Grease an 8x8 pan (I've also used a round cake pan). Press mixture onto bottom of pan, reserving about 1 1/ cups. Spread jelly over oat mixture. Top with remaining oat mixture, pressing down slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until top is golden brown.

I have combined the jelly with melted chocolate chips. Someone in my lab is trying it with white chocolate chips and strawberry jelly. Another labmate is using nutella (SWOON) and raspberry jam. You can create your own flavors. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012


You always hear those stories about campers or hikers or whoever that get mauled by bears because they were touching or near a cub. And then you hear how the bear that mauled this not too bright person was hunted and destroyed.

I'm here to speak for the bear.

As a mother, if I saw someone, anyone harassing my child or scaring him, the situation would not end well. I probably would NOT maul them, but that truly depends on the gravity of the situation.

It's instinct.

Like when the nurse was holding down my newborn baby's legs and shooting him full of vaccines with scary needles, my first instinct was to pummel her. I knew fully well she was not actually hurting him, but something in his scared cries triggered a strong reaction in me.

If I had been a bear, the situation would not have ended well.

As a mother, you have that divine instinct to protect your babies at all cost. It doesn't matter the situation, or even who is right or wrong. That scared cry, the cry of pain....it awakens the mama bear in you. You become the angry 8 foot bear with huge claws and before you know it, you hear yourself roar.

And that my friends, is not a reason to shoot a bear.