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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dancing with Grief Plus One Month

Today is the one month anniversary of the official date of Jolene's death, the day the coroner pronounced. Is it possible to live a hundred lifetimes in thirty days?

Before I revisit those days when our hopes were slowly stripped until the impossible became the only possibility left, let me say this:

God is Faithful. He is good. He is loving. He has carried us in His hands through the last thirty horrible days. Those of you who have read my blog before have read of the many ways He has comforted us.

May His light shine all the brighter against the darkness of what happened.

Sunday, March 16th, Jolene's birthday, served up a mixed bag of emotions. We made it to Sunday school (sometimes we miss it because of the early hour.) I asked my class to pray for Jolene. I signed up to sing on the upcoming "Fifth Sunday Sing" scheduled for March 30th and talked with someone about the church's summer mission VBS in Alaska (Yes! I could go, in spite of my disabilities!) I went home much encouraged. I wondered where Jolene was, but I was at peace about it.

That afternoon, Jolene's boyfriend called. "Do you know where Jolene is?"

She isn't with Marius. Our first, best hope died with the news. That left two possibilities—jail or the hospital. In either case, she was safe. We spent an anxious night, though, hoping to get a quick answer from her "case manager" (with the Mental Health Corp of Denver) on Monday.

Monday is my "long day" at work, so Mom took on the task of reaching the case manager. She was at a conference. Mom figured out how to contact the hospital, and then, the jail. Jolene was not in either place.

Next, Mom called the police. They went by her apartment, but Jolene didn't answer the door. By then it was late afternoon, we were both worried, and Mom couldn't take any more. I took over the phone calls, while still at work.

The police said I couldn't file a missing persons report over the phone; I had to go to the city where Jolene lived. I told my boss that I had a family emergency, left the office, and headed for the McDonalds where we had agreed to meet. I waited for an hour for the officer to show up. By that point the probability in my mind had slipped to suicide.

His first words? "Ninety percent of adults who are missing have chosen to disappear." Not very comforting. I explained about Jolene's illness; that the people Jolene might have gone to see were asking where she was. I explained that the police had gone by her apartment earlier in the day, and no one answered.

Whatever I said, I convinced him that something was seriously wrong. He asked for a physical description, got her address, and explained the procedure. First they had to send officers to the apartment again; if she still didn't answer, they would obtain a warrant for a forced entry.

Three hours later, about five minutes after Mom and I decided to try to sleep, the phone rang. (The police never came to visit us.) The caller identified himself from the coroner's office.

Just in case there was some possibility that the obvious was not true, I asked, "That means--"

"Your daughter killed herself."

Mom says she heard me cry, a high, keening wail. She came in and put her arms around me.

I buried my head against her shoulder. "She's dead!"

The nightmare had become reality.


Lynette Sowell said...

Oh, Darlene. I can't believe someone called you on the PHONE to tell you that. :(

Alaska VBS, wow...

Darlene Franklin said...

Alaska VBS is not going to happen. I missed 1 entire week of work and parts of the next 2 weeks after Jolene's death; and I'm going to be gone 2 more weeks later in the year. I don't want to take advantage of my employer's good will. :(

I know, I can't believe they phoned either.

jaranfranklin said...

As I mentioned to you, knowing how you found out makes the grief fresh for me. It's still so unbelievable. Each new reflection makes the news sink in that much more. She's gone.

I wish they had come over with a counselor or something. Of course for them, this is their job, and I know I would want to keep a job like theirs as unemotional as possible.

As of today (04/18), it has been a month since you had to break the news to me. I'm so sorry you had to. I love you.

Mary Connealy said...

All these milestones. I'm so sorry you're going through them.
God bless you.