Shawn Cody

New Member
Fragile: easily broken or destroyed, lacking in vigor, (of a person) not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable.

This is my saddest ride to date and was difficult for me to write. I am including a special dedication to this story in my upcoming book, so please read it when released. It’s very important to me.

I decided to work a few hours on a quiet Christmas eve. My children were with their mom, and I wanted some mindless activity to distract me from the fact that I was not with my kids. I was feeling introverted, which is not my normal state.

During the Christmas season, driving activity is usually busy early evening, and gets quieter as the night progresses. This evening was no exception. After receiving a ride request in Santa Clara, I instantly recognized Blinky’s Can’t Say Bar, located a few blocks from Santa Clara University. Figuring the call was from a college student staying on campus for the holidays, I casually drove to the site, expecting to meet a twenty-something heading to a friend's house. There are two entrances at this tavern, and I stopped briefly at the back door, as it was closest to me. No one was waiting outside, so after waiting a couple of minutes, I proceeded around the block to the front entrance. Same result, no passenger.

I double checked the Lyft application. My rider hadn't cancelled and the GPS confirmed my passenger was still there. After stopping the car, I sent him a text message, which is the standard first step before cancelling. After several minutes, there still was no reply. Often times, I will cancel right then, but this was a slow night and I needed the fare. So I dialed the rider, and met with an agitated voice.

“Where are you?” the man asked with a slight slur, obviously induced by a cocktail or two.

“I have been driving around for 5 minutes,” I impatiently replied. “Where are you?”

“I am around the back," he said with a gruff voice.

After a deep breath, I spun the car around a second time. As I pulled up to the back entrance, my passenger was still not waiting for me. As a poor joke, people like to occasionally book a fake ride, ending it just before the five-minute deadline. Agitated at this point, I resolved myself that the situation was hopeless, and started to leave the parking lot. That's when the yell came from the left side of my car.

“Hey, I’m over here!” an impatient voice beckoned from the parking area.

As I turned around, Carlos was standing in the middle of the lot, completely hidden, and not anywhere near the pickup point. My first thought was to cancel the ride. If this guy was in a sour mood, he would likely be disagreeable and difficult. This combination does not make for a pleasant ride. My second thought verbalized as, “What an @@@@@@@.” I would later realize how hasty this evaluation was. Fortunately, I overcame my frustration, took another breath, and turned into the parking lot to meet my new occupant.

Carlos had drunk, but not as much as I assumed. For starters, he easily sat himself in the FRONT seat, which was unusual considering how the conversation started. I was also pleasantly surprised that he was not the least bit antagonistic. So off we went to South San Jose, easily a 20 minute ride from where we were.

My greeting was lukewarm, as I was still simmering a bit from the parking lot incident. “How’s it going?" I asked.

“You don’t want to know how I am doing tonight. You really don’t want to know.”

Having a compassionate ear often comes in handy when ridesharing. Figuring he just argued with his girlfriend, or possibly had the holiday blues, I told him, “Try me.”

He quickly replied, “Trust me, you don’t want to know how I am doing, It will really bum you out.”

I was curious now, out of my funk, and felt that a conversation might raise his spirits. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily want to invade his privacy, if he was too upset or didn’t want to talk.

It didn’t take much people reading skills to realize this man was hurting. I thought I would try one last time, then quickly shut up if he declined a third attempt. “Look, we have a long drive. I would honestly like to hear what’s bothering you.”

“Really?” Carlos asked.

I looked right at him right in the eye and calmly said, “You bet.” That’s when it all came out.

Carlos was a Hispanic man in his late forties to early fifties, twenty pounds or so overweight, and a bit disheveled. In my experience, middle-age Hispanic men are not usually prone to exposing their emotions much. So for him to want to talk, something pressing was on his mind.

“Tonight is my daughter’s anniversary, my Mija,” he began. He then became very somber, and I immediately knew there was something terribly wrong. His quietness instantly turned into crying as he said, “Oh my god Mija, why did you do it?” Carlos continued on this way for several minutes, simultaneously muttering the phrase, “My Mija, My Mija," over and over. I put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, trying my best to console him, but it just didn’t seem enough. Then he began to sob. Only knowing half the story at this point, I felt completely helpless. So we both said nothing, the silent night broken up by this grown man’s raw emotion. After several more minutes, Carlos regained his composure.

“This is the one year anniversary of my baby’s death," he said.

At this point, I felt like I was invading his privacy, violating a sacrosanct value of some kind. However, having a daughter, I also knew how intimate this moment was, how significant this day was to this man, to this human being, to this father. “What was her name?” I asked him.

“Melaina," Carlos said. "She was an angel, she was so beautiful.”

“It’s ok Carlos, tell me about it,” I said quietly.

He continued, though I am not sure he heard me. “Do you have kids?”

“Yes, I have a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl,” I said.

“My baby was 16. She had the world in front of her," he said sadly.

“What happened?" I asked.

I would soon learn that Melaina took her life exactly a year ago to the day. She apparently had fought depression for years, and progressed into using drugs to cope with the inner turmoil she was experiencing. Carlos also had a 12-year-old son. I was taking him, on the day before Christmas, to see his boy and ex-wife. The three were going to spend the holiday together, and honor the memory of this lovely young woman. Christmas Eve is usually a time filled with joy and thankfulness, but Carlos was far that, having gone through such a traumatic event only a year before.

Distraught does not even begin to describe the anguish Carlos was experiencing. “You don’t understand,” he explained. “She was my life! My beautiful baby girl.” He started to sob again, this time harder than before. My heart pained for this man. No father should ever experience this type of torment. He dropped his head sadly and said, “Mija, why didn’t you come to me? I would have helped you.” He cried for a few more minutes, and we drove in silence until he was able to speak again.

When he seemed ready, I asked, “How are you dealing with all this?”

Carlos thought for a moment before answering me. “Not very well. I have good and bad days, mostly bad. I just try to get through each one,” he replied flatly.

“That’s all you can do,” I said, the words seeming blatantly obvious.

He continued, “I am here, drunk, going to see my ex-wife and son. To celebrate what?” He seemed to ask himself the question, not expecting an answer. “What am I supposed to say to them? What am I supposed to do? They are looking to me for strength, and I don’t have any left.” He turned in his seat, faced me, and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

I was emotional at this point. It took me a few moments before I answered him. “Even though I am a father, I can only imagine how terribly difficult this was for Carlos. Your son needs you more than ever now. He needs you to reassure him, to tell him everything will be fine, I sympathetically added. "Most importantly, he needs to know that you love him very much.” He nodded in agreement. “You should try to talk to someone who can help you, a professional who deals with this type of loss. It might help.” He nodded again, but the despondent look he gave me was not encouraging. The emotional battle this poor man was facing was unthinkable.

We finally arrived at the destination, a quiet mobile home park off Highway 85, near Bernal Road. Carlos didn’t get out of the car right away, but instead sat there silent for a few moments, seemingly trying to postpone the inevitable. I again put a hand on his shoulder and told him in a very quiet voice, “It will be all right," even though I had no idea what lay in store for him.

Carlos finally opened the passenger door and stood outside my car, thanking me over and over for listening to him. “Be sure and hug your kids,” he said and began to walk away. Then he suddenly stopped, and in what must have been a needed affirmation said, “Melaina, please remember that name. Her name was Melaina.”

“I definitely will, Carlos,” I replied.

Once outside the housing park, I immediately had to pull my car to the side of the road. Having young children and a daughter roughly the same age as Melaina, sadness overwhelmed me. This father's honesty and heartfelt emotions affected me deeply. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I emphatically texted my children, telling them how much I loved them.

In retrospect, I am not sure I offered much solace, and felt hugely inadequate in my efforts. The pain and torment this man was going through was unimaginable. A crisis like this is devastating, and affects a family forever. This ride will definitely affect me forever.

Carlos did not specifically choose me to confide in, to share his inner turmoil. I honestly feel privileged to have shared this experience with him.

Wherever you are Melaina, I hope you are now at peace.
 
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FrostyAZ

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting, Shawn. I was teary-eyed reading about your experience...
...because, tragically, I know exactly how Carlos feels. Nearly three years ago my daughter shocked me, my family, friends, school, and our community when she made the worst decision of her life at the worst moment of her life. She was a sophomore and a leader in high school - straight A student, elite softball player, beautiful, thoughtful, friendly, very popular, and, according to a high school official, the last person he would expect to commit suicide. All of us were shocked and caught by surprise. She had such a great future ahead of her, wanting to be a doctor - and she would have become a wonderful one. I often think about why I didn't recognize the signs. But, she hid them too well. I will always regret that I didn't prevent her from killing herself. Nothing worse than her suicide will affect me during the remainder of my life. I tear up, almost daily, thinking of JJ (Jordan Jae) because there's so many triggers to remind me of how much I love her and how much I miss her.

I could be really depressed but choose to be positive and know that I'm blessed to have had JJ in my life for her 15 1/2 years on earth. And, remarkably, so many of us have been touched by her, now that she's an angel. There have been dozens of inexplicable "signs" that she is still with us. And, there's a scholar/athlete scholarship, presented in her memory, to a graduating high school senior. Her high school softball outfield wall has a huge banner of her in dirty and torn practice clothes. The "Play Like Jae" award is given to the best team mate of the year in the school's softball program.

Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. But, it happens. So, if you don't mind, in memory of all the Melaina's and JJ's who are in heaven, give your precious children big hugs today and let them know how much you love them. Repeat this every day. It doesn't take much effort. Carlos and I wish we could join you. God Bless.
 

Bluebird97

Member
I believe you crossed paths with that man because you were supoosed to make a difference in his life. Who knows, maybe your perspective was enough to help give him strength to just keep breathing and carrying on for another day. Hopefully, he is able to find peace, and can eventually redefine his purpose in life, and find happiness again.
 

Shawn Cody

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks for posting, Shawn. I was teary-eyed reading about your experience...
...because, tragically, I know exactly how Carlos feels. Nearly three years ago my daughter shocked me, my family, friends, school, and our community when she made the worst decision of her life at the worst moment of her life. She was a sophomore and a leader in high school - straight A student, elite softball player, beautiful, thoughtful, friendly, very popular, and, according to a high school official, the last person he would expect to commit suicide. All of us were shocked and caught by surprise. She had such a great future ahead of her, wanting to be a doctor - and she would have become a wonderful one. I often think about why I didn't recognize the signs. But, she hid them too well. I will always regret that I didn't prevent her from killing herself. Nothing worse than her suicide will affect me during the remainder of my life. I tear up, almost daily, thinking of JJ (Jordan Jae) because there's so many triggers to remind me of how much I love her and how much I miss her.

I could be really depressed but choose to be positive and know that I'm blessed to have had JJ in my life for her 15 1/2 years on earth. And, remarkably, so many of us have been touched by her, now that she's an angel. There have been dozens of inexplicable "signs" that she is still with us. And, there's a scholar/athlete scholarship, presented in her memory, to a graduating high school senior. Her high school softball outfield wall has a huge banner of her in dirty and torn practice clothes. The "Play Like Jae" award is given to the best team mate of the year in the school's softball program.

Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. But, it happens. So, if you don't mind, in memory of all the Melaina's and JJ's who are in heaven, give your precious children big hugs today and let them know how much you love them. Repeat this every day. It doesn't take much effort. Carlos and I wish we could join you. God Bless.
Hi Frosty,

I am sincerly sorry to hear about your daughter. She sounds like an amazing young lady. You are a strong and brave soul. I admire your attitude.

Thanks for the sincere comments.

Keep your head up.

I believe you crossed paths with that man because you were supoosed to make a difference in his life. Who knows, maybe your perspective was enough to help give him strength to just keep breathing and carrying on for another day. Hopefully, he is able to find peace, and can eventually redefine his purpose in life, and find happiness again.
I hope so. There is no way to prepare for such a dramatic event. I definitely won't forget him and that ride.
 

Ezridax

Well-Known Member
When he seemed ready, I asked, “How are you dealing with all this?”

Carlos thought for a moment before answering me. “Not very well. I have good and bad days, mostly bad. I just try to get through each one,” he replied flatly.

“That’s all you can do,” I said, the words seeming blatantly obvious.
This was an awesome thing for you to say. I went to a training once for assisting survivors of suicide and one of the things that friends and family often don't do is ask how the family is doing with the loss, especially around anniversaries like this.
Thanks for posting, Shawn. I was teary-eyed reading about your experience...
...because, tragically, I know exactly how Carlos feels. Nearly three years ago my daughter shocked me, my family, friends, school, and our community when she made the worst decision of her life at the worst moment of her life. She was a sophomore and a leader in high school - straight A student, elite softball player, beautiful, thoughtful, friendly, very popular, and, according to a high school official, the last person he would expect to commit suicide. All of us were shocked and caught by surprise. She had such a great future ahead of her, wanting to be a doctor - and she would have become a wonderful one. I often think about why I didn't recognize the signs. But, she hid them too well. I will always regret that I didn't prevent her from killing herself. Nothing worse than her suicide will affect me during the remainder of my life. I tear up, almost daily, thinking of JJ (Jordan Jae) because there's so many triggers to remind me of how much I love her and how much I miss her.

I could be really depressed but choose to be positive and know that I'm blessed to have had JJ in my life for her 15 1/2 years on earth. And, remarkably, so many of us have been touched by her, now that she's an angel. There have been dozens of inexplicable "signs" that she is still with us. And, there's a scholar/athlete scholarship, presented in her memory, to a graduating high school senior. Her high school softball outfield wall has a huge banner of her in dirty and torn practice clothes. The "Play Like Jae" award is given to the best team mate of the year in the school's softball program.

Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. But, it happens. So, if you don't mind, in memory of all the Melaina's and JJ's who are in heaven, give your precious children big hugs today and let them know how much you love them. Repeat this every day. It doesn't take much effort. Carlos and I wish we could join you. God Bless.
Thank you for sharing. I am sorry for your loss. If you aren't aware, there are some pretty awesome support groups for survivors of suicide and the American Association of Suicidology has a healing conference each year which is free to survivors. The 2018 conference will be in Washington DC. If you want more info, message me.
 

FrostyAZ

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your kind words Shawn and Ezridax...

I've been pretty active with survivor support in greater Phoenix -I've become a facilitator for the Scottsdale SOS group. Unfortunately, there's almost always new members who join our "club" each month. Wish it wasn't that way. This year's Suicidology Conference was held in Phoenix. I attend 3-4 conferences per year. Always learning more about the "whys" of suicide and the "process" for survivors.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
 

JimKE

Well-Known Member
It's "hija," pronounced "ee-ha," for daughter. He was probably saying "Mi hija" (my daughter).

"Mi hija" is pretty much the ultimate term of endearment for Spanish-speakers, so you will want to spell it correctly in your book.
 

DocT

Well-Known Member
I hear it pronouced as "mee-ho" (masculine) and "mee-ha" (feminine) in Los Angeles.
 

goneubering

Well-Known Member
In retrospect, I am not sure I offered much solace, and felt hugely inadequate in my efforts. The pain and torment this man was going through was unimaginable. A crisis like this is devastating, and affects a family forever. This ride will definitely affect me forever.

Carlos did not specifically choose me to confide in, to share his inner turmoil. I honestly feel privileged to have shared this experience with him.
God bless you for being interested in your riders and listening to such a heartbreaking story. Sometimes it helps in the healing process.

Thanks for posting, Shawn. I was teary-eyed reading about your experience...
...because, tragically, I know exactly how Carlos feels. Nearly three years ago my daughter shocked me, my family, friends, school, and our community when she made the worst decision of her life at the worst moment of her life. She was a sophomore and a leader in high school - straight A student, elite softball player, beautiful, thoughtful, friendly, very popular, and, according to a high school official, the last person he would expect to commit suicide. All of us were shocked and caught by surprise. She had such a great future ahead of her, wanting to be a doctor - and she would have become a wonderful one. I often think about why I didn't recognize the signs. But, she hid them too well. I will always regret that I didn't prevent her from killing herself. Nothing worse than her suicide will affect me during the remainder of my life. I tear up, almost daily, thinking of JJ (Jordan Jae) because there's so many triggers to remind me of how much I love her and how much I miss her.

I could be really depressed but choose to be positive and know that I'm blessed to have had JJ in my life for her 15 1/2 years on earth. And, remarkably, so many of us have been touched by her, now that she's an angel. There have been dozens of inexplicable "signs" that she is still with us. And, there's a scholar/athlete scholarship, presented in her memory, to a graduating high school senior. Her high school softball outfield wall has a huge banner of her in dirty and torn practice clothes. The "Play Like Jae" award is given to the best team mate of the year in the school's softball program.

Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. But, it happens. So, if you don't mind, in memory of all the Melaina's and JJ's who are in heaven, give your precious children big hugs today and let them know how much you love them. Repeat this every day. It doesn't take much effort. Carlos and I wish we could join you. God Bless.
So sorry for your loss. You are doing a great thing to reach out and help others.
 
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