We got an early call the morning of Saturday, August 20 from Hud's sister. I was still sleeping and Hud came into the bedroom to wake me. His sixteen year old nephew Connor had taken his own life the night before. We needed to get in the car and go to PA to support his brother, his wife and the rest of the family.
I would be the first to tell you that Hud and I didn't really know Connor in the way a lot a people are lucky enough to know their nephews. He had never been to SC to visit us, and our annual trips to PA didn't allow time to spend with a busy teenager who didn't really know us and had his own life. We, of course, had seen him and spent time with him but it was rare.
I learned a lot about Connor, speaking to his family and friends over the last week. He was an avid hunter, YMCA lifeguard, baseball player, Varsity football player and just an all-around outdoors-man. He had many friends and was always the life of any gathering. He wasn't afraid to look "goofy" or dress strangely just to make someone laugh.
My brother's wife was one of his teachers at the local high school and she said she rarely has had a student who was brighter or blessed with more potential.
Connor was lucky enough to spend his entire life in our tiny PA hometown of 4000, where everyone knows everyone else. The support his family received was just remarkable. The visitation at the funeral home on Tuesday was from 1:00 - 9:00. Tom, Beth and Tom's brother (Hud) and their sisters Sue and Anne finished greeting visitors at around midnight. People waited in line for 3 to 4 hours to pay their respects.
Connor's old brother Christian just graduated from high school this year and today he leaves for his first year of college at Westminster in PA. I'm sure that long ride home after they drop him off it will be a tough one for his parents.
Connor's parents, Tom and Beth, are wonderful parents. They coached, supported, taught and loved Connor more than a lot of parents do. There was always a big bunch of kids in their den playing X-Box or some other game. Beth is an attorney and she kept her practice very small and restricted so that her main focus could be her boys.
When I was in my twenties, one of my best friends, who was one of my bridesmaids, took her life. I've never forgotten her and I never will.
I was reminded this week how I used to make my boys watch after school specials (with me) about suicide. After about 10 or 15 of those they said, "Look, Mom we appreciate your lessons but we're OK and we're getting depressed just watching these things". Well, now I worry about my grandchildren but the boys learned those lessons well. They would be the first to grab their children and get them help, if they saw anything that didn't appear right.
Please, talk to your children, talk to your friends. There isn't an age limit on depression or those feelings that you just can't go on. I've been there and if you need it, get help. I or any of your friends or family will be glad to listen.
Connor was laid to rest on the day he was planning to take his driver's test. Rest well in God's arms Connor and we hope you find the peace and answers you were searching for.
Uncle Hud and Aunt Gretchen