Juliet was a bright light to all who knew her. She was just as beautiful inside as she was on the outside. When she walked into a room all eyes were on her. She was smart. No common sense at all, but she was very intelligent, and was set to graduate a year early. She always made people laugh. Whether she was making pterodactyl noises, crawling around like the grudge, dramatically falling everywhere, or just making jokes in general, she was the type of girl that everyone loved and wanted to be around. But she didn’t love herself.
Juliet lost her dad to cancer. They didn’t have a very good relationship, and even though my mom and I encouraged her to make amends with him, she was very strong willed and refused to do so before his death. I don’t know if she had regrets, or how his death even effected her. She definitely wasn’t the type to open up about her feelings, but I do know that she had a huge heart, so it had to weigh on her. If I had to guess I’d say it bothered her a lot.
About a year after her dad died Juliet tried to commit suicide. I was at work when I got a phone call from Mike saying that Maddy, Juliets sister, had called him in a panic to tell him that Juliet posted a picture online of a bunch of pills saying that she was gonna end it all. I left immediately.
I got home from work and ran to the house. Juliet was sitting at the table pale and confused. I started yelling at her to go pack a bag and I helped her up the stairs to get ready. I just stared at her in shock, a million questions going through my head. I grabbed her bag and Mike and I helped her to the car. I took her straight to the emergency room, and we slept there until they could find a bed in a psych unit for her to be transferred to.
She stayed in the psych unit for about a week. It was the week of Mothers Day. Spending Mothers Day in a psych unit with your child isn’t exactly what any mother dreams of. I cried and begged her not to ever do it again. She promised me she wouldn’t. It was a promise she wouldn’t keep.
It was bike week in Ocean City Maryland. Mike and I were on our way back, having taken a much needed weekend break. My mom had stayed at our house with Justice and Juliet. We got back, unpacked, and picked up some Chinese takeout. Juliet was grounded at the time and not allowed out of her room until she apologized. I’m the type of mom who cant stay mad long. I love on my kids even when they are in trouble, and I like to keep the peace. Mike always told me that I gave in too soon and I needed to learn how to stick to my guns. Justice wanted to get Juliet for dinner, but Mike said “No”. I was trying really hard to “stick to my guns”, so I just kept quiet, even though I really wanted her to eat with us. We finished dinner and I put Juliet’s in the fridge in case she got hungry later.
I put Justice to bed around 8:30 and went downstairs to watch TV with Mike. About 20 minutes had past when I got an alert on my phone that Juliet was on Twitter. Juliet wasn’t allowed on social media because of a bad choice she had made with it back in May. That bad choice was what lead to her attempting suicide the week of Mothers Day, and going on Twitter was the reason she was currently grounded. She wasn’t even supposed to have a phone, we had taken hers from her two weeks ago when we grounded her.
Mike and I went upstairs to her room. I was so upset. I just wanted her to be happy, healthy, and make good choices, and most of all I wanted her to not be grounded anymore so I could spend time with her and hear her laugh. I busted through her door asked her where the phone was. She looked at me with a look in her eyes I had never seen before. Juliet had big, bright blue eyes, but when she looked at me they were black and empty, and her face was pale. It scared me. Later I asked Mike about it, and he said he saw the same thing. She told me she didn’t have a phone, and I yelled at her for lying to me. She handed me the phone and I told her I was gonna have her liscense suspended. What else could I do? She was already grounded.
I stomped downstairs heartbroken that she let me down, even more that she let herself down. The phone had a passcode and Mike and I sat there for a minute trying to figure it out. We were just about to give up and go ask her what it was when we heard a “POP”. There was an old TV in the hallway, and I thought maybe Juliet had kicked it, or that she was upstairs breaking things because she was mad. I sent Mike upstairs to see what was going on.
“Rach call 911. She shot herself”
I sat there for a minute not understanding what was going on. I dialed 911 and ran up the stairs. By the time I got to Juliet’s room I was talking to the 911 operator. I could smell gun powder and saw the gun on Juliet’s dresser. I handed the phone to Mike and ran to were Juliet was sitting on her bed.
In my mind her and Mike were playing a joke on me. She was sitting up, leaning on her headboard, hands in her lap, and the gun was across the room. How could she have shot herself if the gun was across the room? I held her hand. I didn’t see any blood. I heard a gurgling in her throat and she moaned. That’s when it hit me.
The next half an hour was a series if me running down the stairs to the kitchen screaming, calling my mom screaming, calling my dad screaming, and running back upstairs to look at her, or hold her hand. Mikes mom lived in the other half of our house, and I must have woken her and her boyfriend up because they came over and she was sitting with Juliet, talking to her and holding her hand while I ran around screaming and acting like a crazy person.
The police got there first. They questioned Mike and I and ask if one of us had done it. I found out that the gun was on the dresser because Mike took it out of her hand so she wouldn’t shoot herself again. The EMT’s arrived and as they carried her down the stairs to the ambulance I saw it. The giant whole in my beautiful little girls temple. I’ll never get that picture out of my head for the rest of my life. I wasn’t allowed to ride with her in the ambulance, because the police had more questions. After about half an hour of questioning I began to panic. “I need to go to the hospital, my daughter is dying!” The police kept telling me no but finally I told them I was going and I didn’t care what they said. One very nice officer offered to drive me.
On the ride there I calmed down a little. The officer told me that his nephew had shot himself too. I asked him if he lived, he told me no, he didn’t. I asked if he thought my daughter would be ok, he told me I should probably prepare myself. I remember the finality of what he said, and how it made me realize that I was probably going to have to say goodbye. I got to the hospital and was met by my mom and her husband. They took me back to Juliet’s room where she was hooked up to a ventilator. Her head was bandaged, and her eye was swollen with blood. Every time she took a breath her teeth made a tapping sound on the ventilator tube in her mouth. The doctor came in. I asked him if she was going to be ok and he told me I needed to decide if I wanted to stop life support.
The bullet went into her temple and out the other side. They gave her blood transfusions, but they couldn’t give her anymore and eventually her heart would just stop pumping. Mike was still at the house being questioned by the police when I called him. “I need you to come to the hospital now, I’m going to pull the plug.” “What do you mean you’re going to pull the plug? She’s not gonna be ok?” he was crying, and I was still in shock. When something like this happens you just believe that everything is gonna be ok. You tell yourself it is, because reality is too hard to face. Your brain shuts down and you do everything on auto pilot, so having to understand that your child is gonna die is not exactly something your brain is ready to comprehend.
Mike got to the hospital around the same time as Juliet’s paternal grandparents, stepmom, sister, and her sisters mom, and the 9 of us stood around her bed as the nurse cut off her life support. “how long does it usually take after cutting life support for someone to die?” I asked the nurse “It varies from patient to patient but usually anywhere up to 2 hours.” Two hours is a long time to watch and wait for your child to die. Seven hours is even longer. That’s how long I was at the hospital waiting. Seven hours. It would be the longest seven hours of my life. The nurse said the reason it took so long was because she was strong and healthy and young. I thought maybe it was because she changed her mind. Mike said it was because she was a fighter.
Juliet told me once that she had no friends. I would rattle off names of people and she would shake her head and tell me that no one ever wanted to hang out with her. The day of her funeral around seven hundred people showed up. People got up and told stories of how Juliet was there for them, how she stuck up for them against bullies, how she befriended them when no one else would. They told me how she changed their life and helped them to believe in themselves, and how she was someone they could always talk to and get advice from. We released purple balloons after her service, and they all went up in different ways and then came together in the shape of a heart. Her last “I love you”. I’m glad that we all got to witness that because it let us know that wherever she is, she’s ok.