It has been four years since my dear friend Silver died. It was particularly painful, because it was not just an early death – she took her own life.
I met Silver when I was eight and she was ten. My family was on a six-week mission trip to the northern part of Manitoba – Island Lake. Silver’s family was the first to become good friends with us there on the native reserve. They would walk in, all eight of the family, and the parents would go right to our indoor picnic table in the old house we lived in, sit down, and visit. Silver and I sometimes went swimming in the lake, walking through the woods, or played catch with other native boys.
I remember picking wild raspberries with Silver. Though we did not talk much while picking, the quality time was bonding us and even now, four years after, I still clearly remember that.
Our time to leave was coming closer, and while sitting in the grass, we shared our postal addresses.
After leaving Island Lake, Silver’s dad often called my dad; and after they were done talking, Silver would ask to speak to me. I have talked with Silver on the phone three times.
However, on April 29, 2003, we received a phone call of a different nature.
“Hello Ralph!” I heard my dad say with an excited tone. “How’s it going?” After a pause, he didn’t seem so excited anymore. “When was this?” I didn’t like the look on his face.
“What was that call about? What happened?” I asked. My mom looked too serious. It was the way she had looked the time her 15-year-old brother drowned…. or the time when my dad’s brother had been kidnapped and shot to death.
“Ralph says Silver committed suicide Saturday night.” Bang. It seemed like a punch in the stomach. “What?”
Silver had been out with friends all day Saturday. Eventually, late at night, when she was home alone, she called her parents who were still out visiting. Three times she called to ask when they were coming home. “Soon,” they promised.
Her parents got home close to 3:00 a.m. Unable to find her, they figured she was out with friends again.
Sunday morning she still had not showed up. Silver’s mother panicked a little and decided to call Silver’s friends. The cordless was not around so she hit the locater button. It beeped in Silver’s room – in her closet.
Silver’s 9-year-old sister went to get the phone. Suddenly Silver’s mother heard frantic screams coming from the bedroom. She ran to see what was wrong, then too screamed at the sight. The neighbours came to see what the matter was.
Silver was hanging in her closet. On the stool beside her was the cordless phone with which she had called her parents three times. Beside her was a small poster that said simply, “A LIFE ONCE RUINED.”
What on this earth could possibly have hurt a fourteen year old girl enough to make her decide to do this to herself? One thing I know, she was calling for help before she did it – she called her parents three times before hung herself! Was she raped and threatened? Did she feel like no one loved her anymore?
I wonder without end if she ever believed in Jesus as her Saviour. I talked to her about salvation, or at least I was sure I had. But was it enough? I wrote her often, yet I still sometimes wonder if I took her life for granted. I only hope now that I will meet her in heaven. I hope. Please Lord.
The story sounds and feels hopeless. But it happened – April 27, 2003. Four years ago. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” What good could possibly come out of this?
Personally, I have come to appreciate my friends’ lives more, especially my other native friends’. My heart for the hopeless and lost has grown, and my passion for evangelism has grown. And I have found strength and comfort in the One who never leaves me.
Silver, I love you. You were an encouragement to me while you were alive. God, thank You for having given me the gift of what time I was able to spend with her.
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