This is a “Moms” site, right? So for that reason, I have to ask this question. Can you even imagine your life or your future without your child? When my son was born 18 years ago I immediately began picturing his life. I saw myself at his games, school events, graduations, and even as a grandparent, all before he said his first word. Recently I met a woman who pictured the very same for her own son, before she tragically lost him to suicide. The story of this stranger and her son, and the loss experienced by her family offers many lessons. Do not take the future for granted. Do not assume people are ok just because they say so.
Find the light and the goodness in every situation and spread it as far and wide as you possibly can.
A simple Facebook marketplace listing was posted by woman selling a collection of Patron tequila bottles. I was tagged in the listing because a Facebook friend knew I am always in search of unique bottles for my business. Candle Bar by Miss Fizzwick collects bottles and upcycles them into beautiful clean candles. I replied to the seller that I do not purchase bottles since my goal is to upcycle things that would otherwise end up in the trash, and assumed that was that – perhaps someone else would purchase the bottles. Patron bottles are unique in that they are hand blown, so each one is special. Fun fact: it was actually the beauty of the hand blown bottle that inspired the brand by Patron co-founder (and Paul Mitchell co-founder) John Paul DeJoria.
To my surprise I received a message from the seller a few days later. “I am the person with the Patron bottles. If you want them you can have them at no charge.” I was so excited because I knew these would make such beautiful candles, and arranged to meet with her. If you have ever bought or claimed anything on a Facebook listing you know how this process works. Try to set up a time, knowing the location is a bit out of the way, communicate on messenger instead of just giving your phone number for “safety” reasons… but I really wanted these bottles so the hour long drive from Freeport to Panama City was totally worth it even up to this point.
This was much more than empty Patron bottles being stored in someone’s garage. Cindy shared with me that her son, Patrick, had taken his own life at just 42 years young, earlier this year. He had some struggles with anxiety and depression, but no one understood the depth of his pain. He had been storing these bottles in his garage and though she was certain he must have had a reason, she was not sure what it was. Cindy told me about the day before Patrick died. They planned to have dinner together the next day. She would cook big batches and send plenty of food home with him to enjoy the rest of the week. I pictured myself doing the same for my son, Joshua. The next day Patrick did not respond to calls or texts. Patrick was my age. Patrick was a light to his friends and family. Patrick was a creative, driven professional and a loving human. Patrick died.
After learning all of this I felt extremely convicted. Something Cindy said stung me. It was about the stigma of mental health. It’s not “cool” to let people know you are struggling, right? Many people are trying to keep it together on the outside and we are completely unaware of the unraveling that is taking place beneath the surface. Moms I know you feel this. Your kids feel it too. Your husbands and sisters and friends – even those you haven’t spoken with in years – they also feel it. What can we do? Cindy and I spoke and she agreed to allow me to create a special collection of candles with Patrick’s bottles.
The “Patrick’s Light” collection not only donates $5 from every sale to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, but each bottle has a reminder “Take this moment to check in with someone. You may be their light in a time of darkness.”
Patrick was a light for his family even when no one knew it was he who needed a light. Cindy’s bravery and strength astounds me. She did not hesitate when I asked her permission to share their story. They were as close as mother and son could be and had seen each other through many of life’s difficult times. Just months ago, she was gutted by the loss of a son whose future she had surely imagined just as we all do for our young children. Through the cracks in her heart she has allowed the light to come in and she shares it so lovingly.
The things that we fear, the things that gut us, need not leave us empty inside. Even in our deepest moments of pain they can be another opportunity to seek the light, and to be the light for others. Maybe now is a good time for you to check in with someone. One message, one call, one visit could save someone’s life.