Lisa & Hans
My beautiful daughter, Lisa, wrestled with an adversary that she didn't share with her family and friends. No one could have guessed at the inner turmoil from which she must have suffered. On April 23, 1991, Lisa took her own life. Her death struck like a thunderbolt from the blue. I wanted to die with her and demanded repeatedly that God take me, too. After finally accepting that I could not give orders to God, and that He must have a reason for me to live, I began my long struggle for an answer. Slowly, over the next several years, I reflected on her life.
Since age seventeen, Lisa had suffered with Diabetes Mellitus. It was taking a toll on her health, both physically and emotionally. She also had the very painful medical condition called “Endometriosis.” Also, her back never stopped hurting from a fall while riding her bike. But, these things had never held her back before. She first married at age nineteen to a young man several years older. But, feeling that she had made a dire mistake, she divorced soon after. A second marriage a few years later had promised a lifetime of love and happiness. Now that marriage, too, was ending. She confided in me that she felt like such a failure.
At this moment in time, she was unable to look at herself and see what others saw … a young woman pretty enough to be on a magazine cover. Sometimes I would catch myself staring at her strikingly pretty face. Her fresh-faced beauty was like that of a sunny day. How I loved to look at her. A sparkling, vivacious personality was topped off by intelligence and an ability to succeed at anything she touched. At twenty-five, her business successes were enviable. She was a hard worker, and built a successful career selling computer supplies in downtown Atlanta. She built up a number of local accounts, and then large, national companies began to buy from her. Who could resist her charm?
She had big plans for the future and told me one day shortly before her death that she felt like she had "the world by the tail." She had done well without a college degree, but she yearned to complete her education. She had recently enrolled at Georgia State University to work towards a degree in Marketing. Home Depot had been her largest national account and she hoped to eventually be employed by them. Two weeks after her death, her college acceptance arrived in the mail. How is it that a girl with such hopes and dreams and plans for the future could take her own life?
The world suffers losses all the time - some great, some small. Maybe the death of one young woman went unnoticed by the vast universe; but I want to go on record as saying that the world lost a very precious, very special person that day. Lisa didn't have to die. She shouldn't have died. In one poem, Maya Angelou wrote…
"When great souls die,
the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines,
gnaws on kind words unsaid,
promised walks never taken.
Great souls die and our reality,
bound to them, takes leave of us.
Our souls, dependent upon their nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance,
We are not so much maddened as reduced to the
unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves…."
For a long, long time to come, I felt that I lived in this "dark, cold cave." My reality did indeed take leave of me.
My burning prayer is that the illnesses that cause suicide, both within society and within some people, will someday be erased from the earth. After many years of asking, "Why, God, why?" I began to feel that maybe Lisa had an undiagnosed Bipolar illness. As I studied and acquainted myself with this illness, I felt that the symptoms began in her early twenties. The percentage of suicides within this tragic group is staggering.
I try to think of her now as doing the things she always loved to do - organizing, building for the future, surrounding herself with beauty, and throwing her head back in laughter. I just would have never thought that she would be doing these things in Heaven without me. One very vivid, life-like dream placed Lisa in an enormous circular auditorium. She was studying with an older woman who seemed to be teaching her. (My mother perhaps?) When she saw me sitting in front of her, she came to me with her happy smile and a warm hug. We talked for a while and Lisa animatedly described her new life. She was happier than I had ever seen her! With a final hug, she said, "Mom, this really isn't a good time for me; I've got a lot of work to do." How like her to be so busy and involved with her work. With a parting kiss, she ran down the steps of the empty auditorium that I sensed would soon be full of people. She walked up onto the stage and into a glass-enclosed room beyond where she joined other people who were working for the same purpose. I thanked my sweet Lord for this brief "visit" with Lisa and left the auditorium.
So, my Lisa now has the peace, true joy, and happiness that somehow eluded her in this life. She now knows how special she is - God Himself must tell her every day. Someone who cared about her said, "No one who ever knew Lisa will ever forget her." That thought keeps me going.
Maybe one day I will even reach the peace and selfless gratitude that Angelou ultimately describes in her poem:
"…And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.
We can be.
Be and be better.
For they existed."
Written by her mother.
For you, Lisa!
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~ Home ~
~ Do Airplanes Fly to Heaven? ~
~ The "S" Word (Suicide) ~
~ Lisa's Wedding ~
~ Words of Love From Lisa's Family ~
~ Photos ~
~ Lisa's Friends Remember ~
~ A Different Kind of Love Letter, From Lisa ~
~ Remember Me ~
~ A Love Denied ~
~ A Lamb's Last Message ~
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Artwork used on this page is
© Greg Olsen, and used with permission.