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Slipped… By Mae Catherine Godhigh

The article you are about to read is not my personal experience. It is an American experience. In the next 7 minutes, a child in America will be bullied. In our U.S. schools children are being bullied sometimes even to the point of death. The impact and permanent scarring is much deeper than what statistics reveal. Allow me to invade your comfort zone with “imagine this.”

We plan vacations, meals and even the arrival of newborns.

Our son arrived in an organic way; natural as breathing itself. As new parents we planned his pathway from the crib to grandparenthood. Endless snapshots captured the first time he rolled over, his first tooth and first steps. He was perfect in every way.

Like most concerned parents, our first day of kindergarten was filled with tears and fears. Would he be okay? Would he miss us? Could we trust the temporary guardians? Needless to say, our little boy championed the day. We barely blinked and he walked into 1st grade. Today we kissed a healthy 6th grader.

We will never forget the day; he told us the bullies were harassing him. As parents the natural thing to do is to advocate and protect your child.

Immediately we called the school and arranged meetings with the teacher, principal and parents of the bullies. On the surface there appeared to be a genuine concern for the welfare of all students. On the inside, we sensed the frustration and helplessness in a fractured system. There were no guarantees.

Every parent needs to realize that technology can be a blessing or a curse.

Our lives were changing and our son was changing. Soon we would be engaged in a fight for the life our child. The bullying on social media only accelerated. The taunting at school became more intense. For the first time, our child was exposed to the dark spaces; rejection and fear. As we continued our fight to safeguard our son; he was slipping away.

Initially we believed some of his mood swings were attributed to puberty. As a family, we continued to strengthen our united front. The last thing he told us was I’ll be okay. As a family, I wasn’t convinced we were out of the woods.

As the weeks turned into months, he became more distant. He spent more time alone in his room. I witnessed his light fading. We prayed and finally sought a therapist. Our sessions appeared to make a difference. Our son was becoming his old self again. His smile and energy was back. Just when we thought things were better; came the letter.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am so sorry. I never wanted to make you sad. I tried but I am tired. I am tired of the fight so I decided to move towards the light. You did everything to help me to succeed. The world can be cruel and watch you bleed. I will miss you every day, please know I am finally okay. You don’t have to fight for me anymore; I’ve arrived on the golden shore.

Love, Your Son

At his funeral, we sat in silence. I looked at our baby and thought, if I could have saved you, I would have. Through tear filled eyes we knew there would not be a high school and college graduation. We were robbed of his wedding day. He would not present us with our first grandchild. He slipped through the fingers of law enforcement and educational systems. He slipped through the fingers of his parents.

The holidays have arrived and they are hollow. We long for the warmth of his smile, the scent of his hair, the corny jokes, and his giving spirit. There will always be a “hole in our souls” when we mention his name.

Dear Parent (s)

Do not ignore the signs of bullying. Listen to your child. Tell them you love them everyday. Remind them of their worth. Fight for them. Hold them close and never let them go. Pray and do your best. Trust God for the rest. Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.