All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
My Purple Beads
Author's note: A personal tragedy inspired me to write this piece.
I met her in a detention. I thought nothing good comes from detention, but I start to see now why I needed to be there. I’m sitting at my table, working away, preparing to dig in to a full four hour incarceration. I wear a bracelet on my arm that says “TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS” and right across from me is a girl I know I need to help. I don’t even know her name and I know something is wrong. Just by the way she looks I can tell so much: She drinks, she’s depressed, and her parents don’t care anymore. I don’t know why, but God wanted me to be here. I get nervous thinking about talking to her. I say to myself “What if I completely get shunned and she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say?” But I know that it doesn’t matter. She’ll be stuck in her ways, but when the time comes I’ll know what I have to do.
So I talk to her during the break. I introduce myself and we talked for a little while. Her name was Meaghan and she was 16 years old. She asked what my bracelet meant, and I told her the story of why I came to be involved with the charity. I told her also about my life and what I’ve been through. But she doesn’t want to open up. Oh, well. I’ll keep trying.
After the break was over we went back to the classroom and I sat down next to her. She seemed reluctant at first but after a while she stopped etching away. There was supposed to be no talking during the detention but we ended up passing a note. She started to tell me how her family has been falling apart since her parents got a divorce and her older brother died. I asked her what he died from; she said he was a heroin addict. I never knew that there was this much pent up aggression and emotion in my own school.
I took a look at her friends that were sitting across the room. They looked no better than she did. They all looked like they just rolled out of bed. I could tell that some of these girls were in need of some serious help.
I told them the story of the charity called To Write Love on Her Arms. At first they seemed a bit reprehensive of what I was telling them, but as I started to say what the charity stands for they seemed to unravel at the thought of someone else going through the same things they did, so I went on. I told them of the power of love and healing. The look in their eyes was indescribable.
I shared my story. Coming from a background that’s got more marks then the U.S. Census; I had a lot to say. I told them how I used to cut and I did all this stuff like drugs and drinking because I thought it would mask the pain of my life. I told them how I found ingenious ways to hide it. And they seemed a little taken aback by the idea of this joyful little kid, that’s talking to them so passionately about not doing all this crap, could be so ignorant. But I showed them that depression is not the type of thing that can strike one type of person.
But I wasn’t done yet. I told them I wanted to hear their stories. By now there were three girls who looked just as lonely as she did. The first one was of course, Meaghan. The second to entertain our group was Brittany. And the third was Caytie. Meaghan was the most introverted of the three of them. She was the type of person that would not open up to anyone. I assumed she was the leader of the three. So Brittany spoke first. She told me how she was fighting against depression and was sadly, losing. She said it’s been a hard road traveled and she wants to get to the point where it stops being sad and it starts to get better. She confessed and said she likes to smoke pot and all the stereotypical crap that most teenagers do.
Caytie spoke next. She said that she wasn’t depressed or sad and she never cut. But she liked the feeling of people thinking she does. She didn’t see anything wrong with her appearance and she was O.K. with it. But she knew that a majority of kids in our school ragged on her for it. But she didn’t care she LIKED the attention.
Meaghan didn’t want to say anything.
After we talked for almost two hours I wanted to let that idea sink in, so we said good night and I told them I would love to talk to them some more. So we went home. But that night I got a call from Meaghan and she didn’t know what was going to happen to her, she had cut and she had trouble standing and she felt dizzy. I asked where her parents were and she said she didn’t know where her mom and step-dad were, she was all alone. So I told her to hang on for one second while I called an ambulance. I didn’t hang up the phone but instead got the house phone that I wasn’t using at the time. I dialed 911 and when someone picked up on the other end and said “911 what’s your emergency?” my first response was to scream into the phone. But I knew that wouldn’t help Meaghan.
As the ambulance was driving to her house, we had to stop so it could get by us on the main road. After the ambulance passes us we floored it! We didn’t know what was going to happen, but I thank God every day that I was in that detention. If I hadn’t been there, this girl would have probably died. But she didn’t. She lived to fight another day and she didn’t know it at this point, but she would be thankful for it. She would be thankful that she got the chance to live her life to the fullest. That she would grow to be one of the most influential people in my life and grow to be an extraordinary person.
When we got to the hospital she had already been taken to the ICU and I wasn’t allowed to see her. The doctor said her cut was nearly 3 centimeters deep and she had just barely missed a major artery. Some people asked why she did it. I said she was lucky, lucky because she had missed the artery, that if she had cut another half a centimeter she would be dead right now. I figured as long as she’s alive this is a problem she will struggle with, and I’ll be there to help her. I was so ready, so willing to commit my life to this girl I barely knew, and help her become better than her current situation was making her.
I stayed at the hospital all night, hoping that I was going to get to see her, but the doctor said she was sleeping. She was stable, but in critical condition. Brittany and Caytie were her and they were really upset. They didn’t think there friend had gotten that bad but I guess they didn’t really know her as well as they claimed to. I knew something was up but I hadn’t done anything about it. For a long time I felt it was my fault but I learned that you can’t blame yourself for other people’s problems. No matter what you do, you will never change how people think.
Both of the other girls wanted to go home, so they left. When the doctor asked why I hadn’t left, I turned to him and said I’m not leaving that spot unless it’s to go talk to Meaghan. When he asked why I didn’t leave and come back in the morning because she wouldn’t know the difference I said that I would. If I had left the hospital that night I would have felt that I wasn’t really dedicated to saving this girl.
But then the doctor said that if I was to do it I better do it right. He gave me some flowers to give to her and said I could sleep in her room in the chair, provided it was ok with the parent. I looked confused as I turned to him and said; “When did her mom get here?” He then told me that she hadn’t, they still couldn’t find her. He smiled warmly and said “I’m responsible for her until we get in contact with a parent or legal guardian. You can go on in, son.”
That night the doctor in that hospital really touched me. He gave me the power I need to let that poor girl know that I will be here for her for as long as she needs me. Because when she wakes up, I would be the first one she saw. But for now she had to sleep. She had a night that she will never forget, a night she might come to the realization that she was meant to be alive.
While she was in the hospital, and I was waiting for her to wake up I had a revelation… In my head, while I was sitting there, Psalm 23:4 came into my head. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” And as I was thinking of this, I couldn’t help but think that the psalmist David had people like this young girl in mind. Here she was, a broken and battle worn girl, and she was anything but strong in the face of adversity.
The doctors at that hospital were some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. They’re the people that come closest to playing God that any of us can be. When a patient goes into the hospital, they either come out alive or they could die, based on their doctor’s decision.
We never clearly get a picture of an angel, but if my opinion mattered much, Dr. David Maddox would be my choice. Here is a doctor who strives constantly for perfection. He is extremely passionate about what he does, and he’s the best in the field if I say so. He saved Meaghan’s life, and for that I am eternally grateful. I believe God sent him down from heaven to save her. He was her guardian angel. The bible mentions nothing about angels being these majestic beings with an amazing wingspan and a glowing halo. There could be angels all around us and we wouldn’t even know it. I believe a guardian angel is a person sent from God to change our lives. I believe I’ve had a couple of them and I didn’t realize it until they were gone. It’s just like they’re there one minute and gone in the next, before we get the chance to realize.
Of course that’s all my beliefs. But I firmly believe that’s how an angel is really seen on earth. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 says; “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. IT ALWAYS PROTECTS, ALWAYS TRUSTS, ALWAYS HOPES, AND ALWAYS PERSEVERES.” Sitting in that hospital room, with this unconscious girl, was my love persevering. While I barely knew this girl, I knew that it was my job to love her unconditionally. I know it sounds crazy but I felt a calling coming out of this girl’s soul saying “help me!” and that’s what I did. She didn’t know it at this point but soon enough she would figure it out, that I was trying to help her. But I could only help as much as she wanted to be helped. I made a promise to myself that night. A promise that says that no matter what I would be here for her.
Meaghan was a big influence in my life. She made me see how fragile the human life can be, and even when we’re not trying to take it; it can be compromised and taken anyway.
The whole town was in awe. Most people knew she had a problem with depression but no-one paid much attention to her, they didn’t think she would go this far. And to be completely honest, I didn’t think it either.
But who am I to assume anything? I’ve only known this girl for 10 hours by now. When I met her I didn’t think it in her will but I guess I was wrong. Apparently I was being too naive. I’ve always been the type of person to think the best of people and never assume the worst. Meaghan’s story was the one that changed my whole perspective. She showed me that sometimes you have to pay extra attention to the people who seem like they won’t follow through with the threats they made, because they very well could be the people that would follow through just to prove you wrong.
This fragile little girl was one of these people. She’s just like I was. I acted very defiant but in the end I would always do what was told of me. But she was the first to show me that I did that to myself. She was the one who changed my life. That sounds fun doesn’t it? A girl who tried to take her life made such a difference in a person like me?
Regardless of how it seems, it happened. I had heard a calling out from this girl and I didn’t respond the way I should’ve. I felt responsible for this girl being in the hospital. I felt that because this girl tried to reach out to me and I didn’t respond in the right way, it was my fault that she was in the hospital. I kept trying to tell myself that there was nothing I could’ve done that would have changed her mind. But I kept going back to the thought that it was my fault. And now I didn’t only feel that in God this was the right thing to do. I felt like I owed it to her. I owe her the life she tried to take and that is one of the greatest debts to pay off. Owing and dedicating your life to someone you’re not going to spend your life with is an amazingly insurmountable task. But I knew it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t thinking of the rewards that helping this girl would bring, I was thinking about the fact that if I helped this girl I could save a life. Hoping only that God had bestowed some great destiny upon my life and I would become a minister and an inspiration to people, and someday lead someone to Him.
But this isn’t about me. The point is that I learned to process this as an adult and understand it better than a normal teenager. I knew this girl needed help but I had no clue how I was going to do it. I knew that if God really wanted me to do it, he would show me what I was supposed to do in due time. For now I just had to show her that I really cared and I was here to help. And if nothing else then I would give up trying to save her life and just be there for her. What else could I do? Go against God’s will? I don’t think so.
As I was thinking of all this something popped in my head. Me being a Christian, I remembered the book of First Thessalonians. There, Paul, Silas, and Timothy, explain to the Church of Thessalonians that work produced by faith, and labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope, is all from Jesus Christ. It goes on to say how they knew that the work they were doing was from God because it came not only through words but also though power, the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.
I had the power and the words. I also had a deep unexplainable love for this girl. And I couldn’t explain why, I figured it was the love Jesus had when he came down from heaven to save us all.
One thing was for sure. We were ALL broken. We all neglected to do our duty as her friends AND family, to give her the hope of new life and the opportunity to turn away from that lifestyle. We neglected her. Now look what happened to her. She’s in a hospital bed. She was unconscious because we didn’t do our jobs as the people who loved her.
Not all of us were to blame. Some people just didn’t know what she was going through.
She was, for all intensive purposes, mentally screwed up. She had not only the ability, but the will power to take her own life. Anybody who doesn’t get to that point in their life can’t understand what it’s like to be there. They can’t grasp the full impact of wanting to take their own life. I’ve read stories about people with manic depression, and quite honestly I think that’s what Meaghan had. She was always seen at un-imaginable highs or inescapable lows. When I read about all the people who suffered this disease, it shocked me. People of great power and creativity: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Kurt Cobain, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Gogh and many others. They had this disease and some had the knowledge or the technology we have today so that we can deal with this disease, but some didn’t. And it led to nothing more than suicide. We can now cure this disease because we’ve learned what we can do with the example of men and women who came before us that didn’t understand the entirety of the disease.
Manic depression is defined as a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes. It just seems to me that this is the most likely thing for her to have. It makes sense if you think about how she could be seen always really happy, or she’s mad at the whole world.
A lot of peoples’ most impressive works come from when they are depressed. Beethoven wrote and composed all nine symphonies while he was severely depressed, and now we consider him one of the greatest musical genius’ of all time.
The charity To Write Love on Her Arms does an annual walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and they have beads that are given out to all the walkers, and the color purple stood for losing someone to suicide. I vowed that I would try with all my might to help Meaghan because I did not want to wear those purple beads for anyone. But I felt that it was a battle that all my might couldn’t handle, and I was losing.
It was a terrible feeling, sitting in that hospital room alone with a girl I barely knew, and just hoping she would wake up soon. And to top it all off I had all these thoughts rushing around in my head. I was thinking about what I could do when she woke up and how I was going to help her.
I had decided that when she woke up I wasn’t going to yell at her but instead I was going to hug her and ask what had happened and why she felt the need to cut. But what if it was too early to talk about it? What if she never wanted to talk about it again? I told myself when she woke up I would just show her the kind of love that I want to be shown if I was in her situation.
So there I stood. Firm in my belief I would not let her go. I would show her the love that everyone in this life so often needs and desires. When she was all alone she felt like everything was falling to ash around her. She could not stand firm in her belief because she had never seen something real. She saw the fakers and the liars all around her, the true “men of god” going and doing things that she herself would never dream a good person, strong in Christ, would go out and do with no remorse.
And so when she woke from her sleep, I was there, and I welcomed her to her new life, and told her that the story she could now share was one of inspiration and hope. She would lead people to God, and set the example of something real for His glory. No more fakers. No more liars.
She had many questions when she woke up, starting with why she was there. As I tell her of the terrifying call she made to me, I can tell that the memories are rushing back, and she had a hard time facing the fact that people would be scrutinizing her more and more because of what she’s done, but I don’t tell her this, I figure she already knows all this.
As I’m staring down at this nearly lifeless figure in this cramped hospital room, I have many things going through my mind. One of which is the fact that I know that things will never be the same in my life after I go through with this. Meaghan has gone back to be by now, the doctor has given her a very high dosage of morphine, and I left the hospital to sleep a little, and bathe, I figured she had a lot to deal with in the very near future.
It’s funny, but looking back at this, I realize how childlike my feelings where toward Meaghan. I felt like I loved this girl, and I just met her. My mom once described it to me as “puppy love.” And to me it felt like puppy love, I was a young boy who felt overwhelming feelings for a girl I had hardly known. But I liked it. It made me feel like I had something to live for and work toward.
Back at my house my mother has been worried sick. I had never called her the night before to let her know that I wasn’t coming home that night. She dropped me at the door, so she knew where I was, and I was safe, but she didn’t know when I was coming home. “Where the hell have you been, Aidan?” said my mother. “I know, I know. I’m sorry I didn’t call, but I got so distracted at the hospital, and then I just passed out. I was so scared, I’m worried about her, mom,” I said, as I start to cry. I’ve never been so compelled
Because the hard, cold truth is that this is a dog eat dog world and if you’re not tough enough he world will drop its entire weight over you, and the weight of the world is too much for any one normal human to bear. She strengthened the youth of tomorrow to not have to deal with what she put up with for so long. She knew the feeling of rebirthing in Jesus. And she gave this hope to a new and shining generation.
We drop at the feet of God and look at him with the scars on our wrists, and we say we’re sorry, and He says He forgave you before you asked Him. All too often we think that we’re taking the world on, on our own, when in reality we have the most important person in the world on our side. We never spend a night alone, no one knows us like He does, they don’t know us at all compared to Him, and He wraps us in His arms and doesn’t let go.
We see in the world the stereotype of who is more likely to become depressed, the stereotype of a gothic dressing white girl. But depression comes to all people and attacks anyone it can. This is an attack from the devil, and only one person has the power to stop it. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is the best friend you could ever have.
Today, Meaghan is alive and well. She came to know the Lord that very same year, and not once has she looked back. Through all this, I’ve learned one thing above all else: “I can do ALL things, through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13