By Sheryl Recinos, Mother
She wears the crisp piece of flimsy plastic across her cheek like her battle cry; she has been through something profound and wants the world to know it. I rush across the room and lift her into my arms, ready to hug away the teeny tiny scratches that someone must have given her in a toddler battle over a favorite plaything.
But when I peek under the band-aid, looking for telltale signs of an injury, she giggles. “I okay, Mama,” she says as I kiss the bandage that covers unbroken skin.
Years later, I accidentally stumble across a notebook, while searching for a scrap of paper. A crisp eight-page note detailing how she will end her life, and why. I rush her to the emergency room, never telling her what I know.
How had I not noticed that her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes anymore?
How had I missed the pursing of her lips as she asked where she could find a tall enough building.
Tall enough for what, honey? No answer.
In the safety of the hospital, I confessed. “I found your note.”
Tears flow; a pain I didn’t know was lodged inside of her. I fully expect her to shout at me, to tell me I was wrong to go into her things, to tell me that she hates me. She doesn’t.
“I’m okay, Mom,” she whispers when I wrap her into my arms and hold her as she sobs. I wait for her to tell me the words I would’ve said to my own parents. No, the world has not been as cruel to her. Her childhood was wrapped with love. Love, and bandages.
Today, she wears no bandage. Her skin is unbroken. The pain was on the inside, all along.
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255