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Sunday, April 13, 2008


I could spend a lot of energy second-guessing myself. Did I miss all the signs pointing to Jolene’s decision to kill herself?

The day Jolene (probably) died, I spoke with her in the morning—a month ago today. She was happy; we made plans to celebrate her birthday on Sunday. She told me what kind of cake she wanted—chocolate bottom layer with a white top layer, with pink and blue flowers. Eventually, we threw away the cake. We couldn't bear to look at it.

“I don’t want to go to a movie this year, Mom. I want to do something outside.” She seemed to like my idea of going to Lookout Mountain.

She gave me no hint that anything was wrong.

By that afternoon, she had deteriorated to the point where she called a friend for help. “I wish I could just die,” she reportedly said.

The friend rushed to her apartment, with the police. The friend left—her boyfriend left—the police left. They must have believed she was not suicidal; otherwise, they would have taken her to a hospital.

Sometime during the following 24 hours, Jolene took her life.

No, I don’t think anyone failed her during those final hours.

But when I look back over the past few months, I see possible signs.

Jolene returned several of the most personal gifts I had given her. I was heartbroken when she returned a personalized cross stitch picture I had made for her. She also only displayed pictures of her father, and none of me. Hurt and maybe angry, but not worried, I told myself that she needed to separate from me, that it was a temporary stage.

Some time ago, she gave away half of her porcelain dolls. She had accumulated a beautiful collection, enough to fill a china cabinet and more. The week before she died, she gave away the remaining dolls.

Again—I was dismayed, but I told myself that she was saying, “I’m no longer a child.”

She discarded most of the artwork, her own creations, which she had used to adorn her walls. Again—I figured she was leaving childhood behind, trying to figure out who she was becoming.

I took those actions as her attempt to move forward, extreme, yes, but that was natural given the nature of her illness.

Maybe I was wrong. I don’t know, and even if I was wrong—I can’t go back and fix it.

But someone else mentioned “giving things away” as an indicator of suicide. Maybe—someone who reads this blog will see a loved one going to the extremes that Jolene did. Maybe, someone will seek help that will save a life.

A month ago we had our last conversation. I miss you, Jolene.


Jan Parrish said...

I think you were doing what any mother would do - allowing her child to move on and up. Letting go is so very hard and now you have to let go again.

I know you are helping others with this painfully honest blog. I pray it will touch someone who needs it today. How blessed Jolene would be.

jaranfranklin said...

It's been heavy on my mind today too Mom. I think I should have called her more. If only I'd expressed how much she meant to me. We listen to songs like Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes," and think we've got the message. And when life happens, and we drop all such wise lessons to blindly go about business as usual, God comes smashing through our walls with Providence.

What do I want to say to you tonight Mom? I guess I want you to know that I feel it too.

Mary Connealy said...

A month.
It doesn't seem like time is passing and then you hit a milestone like a month. I'm amazed it's been that long. It still feels ... I don't know ... just like it barely happened.

squiresj said...

I am sorry you lost your daughter. I know it hurts and you have many questions for God. I had questions for God when at 19 my daughter rebelled and wouldn't call and wouldn't come home and wouldn't go to work. I too then felt like a terrible Mother. Still do at times since both my girls are living with guys. Alma is married and was for 5 years but her husband told her he wanted her out of house. So she has relocated and moved to Indiana. There she has a new boyfriend. I never taught my girls to live together outside of marriage. I have been married 28 going on 29 years and sometimes it has been hard. But when my oldest was rebelling, she told me not to blame myself. She said her choices were her choices and not mine. She would have to pay the price. It is so so hard letting go.
I hope this blog will help someone else as I had a support group through the three years I never knew when and if my daughter would come home.

Rhonda said...

You are doing an awesome job with this blog Darlene. God Bless You.

Darlene Franklin said...

SquiresJ - Thanks for stopping by and sharing some of your own pain. Jan, Rhonda, Mary - thanks for your friendship and love and prayers and support. Jaran - what can I say? My loss is also yours.

chloe-ster said...

Darlene, I truly believe there was nothing you could have done. The signs were there, but often fleeting. You yourself said in other blogs that she would seem depressed, but then she'd seem fine enough for her friend, her boyfriend, AND the police to leave her on her own recognizance, so there really was no way for anyone to know. You did all you could and then some for Jolene, and you are a loving and attentive mother.