Brian Jr "BJ" came into this world at 9lbs 2oz and a day late. They threw him in my arms and he was half my size. At three months old he smiled for the first time and completely melted my heart. He would smile every morning when he woke up. He enjoyed the outdoors, music, and was athletic. He was also very methodical. At 4 years old, we paid for him to do karate, and for a month, he stood in the middle of the floor and did not participate. He would have his parents acting like loons on the side lines trying to encourage him to participate, and he would just stand. Then, one day, all of sudden, he started doing the moves and forms perfectly. He even started teaching the other kids in class the kicks and forms. No matter how frustrating it was for his parents, he continued to be that way. He observed the world, learned and then acted. In 6th grade he didn't have his sax for the first 3 weeks of school, and Mr. Shelly would tell him you are going to be so behind when you get your sax. He got his sax and played it immediately, shocking Mr. Shelly. During baseball, he would make amazing plays and come off the field very solemn. The coach would yell in his face of how great he did, and BJ would just turn up the corner of his lips and walk away.
BJ connected with people and listened to them without judgement. BJ was bullied in middle school because he stood up for the socially awkward and geeky kids. When I went to the school I was told, "He was a cool kid that would not give up on his geeky, socially awkward friends". I remember at that time how proud I was in that moment, not realizing he was suffering from the bullying. I didn't find that out until he was in his twenties. BJ had a way with connecting with others. He had many kids that looked up to him as a mentor when he was in band. He took time to teach, listen, and let someone be who they were meant to be. He was completely dedicated and loyal to his friends. There were many times he was willing to stay in a car with a friend in 30 below weather if they didn't have a place to stay. BJ would convince me (mom) to welcome them in our home. He looked past the outer shell and saw the true person. Then, he would fight and support them, and convince me to look past that outer shell. He was an incredible man that was on his way to greatness. He would do kind acts and just walk away.
He was not a saint. He struggled in becoming an adult. He drank, smoked pot, dabbled with other drugs, and got in trouble with the law. Over time, he allowed those choices to define who he was as a person, not realizing that those choices did not define him as a man or human being. While he was uplifting others through his words and actions, he was sending himself negative messages. He wanted to do things on his own, becoming a man on his own. He would not allow people to help him. He told me he did not want to die, and he wanted to live. At the same time, he did not reach out for help. He would continually tell me how he wanted to help others, not knowing he already did that with his kind words, acceptance of others, and his loyalty to others. I will never know what his thoughts were in that moment. I know, if he knew the ripple he created, he would be devastated. He was loved unconditionally, and he loved unconditionally.
So this is what drives us to help others to stop the negative messaging and reach out for help. It does not make you weak to ask for help. Vulnerability is the biggest strength you will ever have. We are hopeful with the ideas and talents of others, we will be bringing a community program that supports empowerment and inner strength building to prevent suicide and bring awareness. Our other goal is to support and promote the resources and programs that already exist in our community that have the same vision. We are also introducing and supporting Sources of Strength in our school system and community. A program whose mission is to "provide the highest quality evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength".