I love this girl.

She is the reason I am telling my story

I found out about Hannah on June 20, 2014. She had taken her life the day before. I had lived by her family throughout my teenage years when Hannah was just a cute little girl. Hearing about her life being cut short at 16 and in such a tragic way stung my heart. I determined that I would pray for her family everyday, and hoped that added with the prayers of all those already praying for them that they would find peace.

And then something started happening. I remember weeding the garden as the heat of the day started giving way to the cooler night. My kids played happily, and I wanted to just soak in the sweetness of the summer evening. As I searched for the next weed I recognized a powerful longing inside, an urgency to go talk to Hannah's parents. While maybe a nice idea, I hadn't seen them for years. How would they feel letting a former acquaintance into their home at such a devastating time?

I decided that if it was a random thought, it would disappear, and if it persisted, I would do something about it. It persisted. I knew this longing in my heart would not settle until I spoke with Bruce and Laura Warburton.

19 days after Hannah left this life, I traveled up to meet with her parents. Their graciousness in allowing me into their home at that time will always stay with me.

Like sifting through an old box you've drug up from the basement, I related to the Warburtons things I had not remembered in years, things that were going on inside my mind at the times when I felt the very most desperate, hopeless and suicidal. As they related their fresh and painful experiences with their daughter over the last year, there were many similarities between our thought processes. Hannah had said similar things out loud and in her journal.    

It was a very powerful afternoon. When we were all finished, Laura said, these things you've been telling us. They would be a lifeline to so many people. Have you ever written them down??

I hadn't.  I have never been shy to tell people that depression is part of my life. One of my passions is to be on the lookout for people suffering from depression so I can offer them hope. But I figured some of those deepest darkest moments were behind me forever, that bringing them back would not be helpful, only destructive. The way I saw them serve Hannah's parents has caused me to think otherwise. And so, I have been working for the last two months to tell my story in blog form.
It's not too far of a stretch to say that my life here could have easily ended as Hannah's did. Hers could have eventually continued in happiness as mine has. But mine did not and hers did not. While thousands of glaring questions are left in the wake of that fact, one glorious truth shines through. Like Paul, "...I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life...nor things present, nor things to come...shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Hannah and I both thought we had placed ourselves outside the reach of God's love. But we both know now that that is not possible. And our stories braided together with His love have the potential to bring hope to all those who are able to hear.  

I love you, Hannah girl. You pulled my story out of me. I write for you.