When I was 10 my mother’s high school best friend hung herself in the entryway closet of her mother and stepfather’s home. I took piano lessons in this very home every Tuesday. My mom still stayed connected to Lisa throughout the years. This is a small town. Our families attended church together. My mother was a cosmetologist so she was Lisa’s stylist, and Lisa’s mother eventually became my piano teacher. I know that when my mom received the phone call at work she looked like someone kicked her in the stomach. This was something that just doesn’t happen in our church body, people started to “talk”. My mother knew I had to go back to piano lessons and I had heard so many stereotypical rumors that my mom had to sit down and tell me what had really happened. She told me Lisa was the most beautiful woman my mom ever knew, like a princess, she married her prince charming and had two kids. Everything seemed perfect except Lisa kept getting sicker and sicker. Eventually a doctor diagnosed Lisa with Bipolar Disorder. This disease was very hard on her and her marriage. Lisa eventually felt like she could no longer live with her illness anymore. This made sense in my little 10 year old brain and I am so lucky to have a mom who made sure to put the words like “crazy” or “insane” right out of my head. I have since that day tried to see all suffering in humanity as something I should be proactive about and never derogatory or negative. We are all brothers, we are all connected. Your pain is my pain.

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