Should people be given second, third, or fourth chances? I wouldn't be where I am today without God and the people around me willing to give me more than one chance. I was lost for almost 4 years. I ran as far away from me and everything I knew because I was angry. Angry with myself. Angry with God. Angry with my family.
Let me explain where all of this anger came from. It came from losing my cousin Pascal to suicide. Little Pascal was like my brother. He was a month older than me. We grew up together. He is in almost every childhood memory I have. He was my best friend. He was the person I vented to. He practiced softball with me. He laughed with me. He cried with me. In losing him I lost myself. It's been 4 years now and to this day it doesn't seem real. The pain is still here. I still cry about it. I still struggle with it. I've lost quite a few people I love, but nothing has hurt as much as a tragic loss from suicide.
I remember the last thing I said to him. I remember the last text he sent me which was I love you! I remember his crazy curly hair. I remember his out of control personality and laugh (sound familiar, sounds like me huh!). I was in New York working as a nanny when I had found out. I remember that Sunday like no other Sunday. I had gone to church that day. I finally felt good about being out there and not wanting to go home. I was happy. I had new friends. I was involved with church. Life was good. Little did I know my life would change drastically in less than an hour. Driving home I couldn't wait to call my mom to tell her that I was finally doing okay out there. I called her. She said, "Carissa, let me talk to the parents there." I said, "What are you talking about? Why?" She said, "I need to talk to the parents there." I was so confused. I said, "If you don't tell me I'm going to freak out!" She said with a cry, "Pascal shot himself. He's dead!" The phone call dropped. She wasn't on the other end of the line. I couldn't believe what I just heard. I called my grandma to confirm this awful news. Sure enough, my nightmare began. Within two hours I was on the way to the airport to catch a red eye home. That was the worst flight of my life.
I remember standing by his casket, looking down at his lifeless body in disbelief, praying that it was a nightmare I'd wake up from. June 25, 2006 was the worst day of my entire life. I was angry with myself because I felt like as Pascal's "rock" I wasn't here for him. I feel like I could have done more, and... I didn't. I feel like I should have seen the signs of his depression. I should have known how he was feeling. I should have been here for him. I was angry with God for taking my best friend so young. I was angry at God because someone who isn't God told me that Pascal was going to hell because he killed himself. I was angry with my family for not doing absolutely everything they could while I was in New York. They were the one's here in his last days. I was not. They should have been sensitive to his depression. They should have seen signs of suicide. His friends should have seen these signs!
It took me a long time to stop crying everyday. I didn't want to feel the pain so I took medicine to make me sleep all day, everyday. I did that for about a month before my cousin Star realized I had a problem. I felt so much pain, that I didn't think I was capable to feel anymore. I didn't think I was strong enough to go through this loss. Little did I know, all I needed to do was to turn to Heavenly Father, instead I ran as far away from him as I could.
I didn't want to be who I was, who I had always been anymore. I didn't want to go to church. I didn't pray anymore. The anger had completely taken over me. I lost all faith. I lost all hope. The one thing I've realize is that when you lose faith, hope, church, and our savior, you end up losing yourself. I dated out of the ordinary. I did things I would never have done before. Deep down I knew everything I was doing was wrong. I knew I wasn't happy. However, on the surface it seemed to make me really happy. It was only temporary happiness. Not unconditional happiness that you get from our savior, from faith, from doing what's right, from being true to who you are.
I strayed for 3 years. Knowing I was missing something. Knowing I wasn't happy. Knowing I was walking around with a cloud over my head keeping me so lost and confused about everything in life.
About seven months ago a dear friend of mine, no name needed, helped me get back on the right path. He inspired me to want to be better. To want to go to church and find God. To want to change my life. To find myself again. Almost instantly the cloud around my head changed to a light that everyone saw. I was changing for the better. For myself. Not anyone else. I am so lucky that he didn't give up on me, that my new friends and family didn't give up on me, and most of all that Heavenly Father didn't give up on me and turn his back on me like I did to him. I have received so many incredible blessings from opening my heart to my Heavenly Father. I know that my dear friend was sent to me for a reason. Without him I wouldn't be where I am. I tell him he's an angel. He will always be dear to my heart. Without him I wouldn't have met Katie and Travis Price. Katie and Travis are the most amazing people I've ever met. They are the best blessing I've ever received. I'm so lucky that they opened up their home to me. They helped me get back on the right path as well. Words can't even describe my love for this amazing family. I know what it is to live without the gospel and I know what it is to live with the gospel. Life without the gospel is no life at all. I have lost friends for making these changes, but I've gained new ones. I know who I am and what I want. I know where I'm going in life and I have faith in Heavenly Father and I know that he has a plan for me and that everything works out how it should. Every person needs to go through trials. Giving my burdens to Heavenly Father is the only way I can gracefully make it through any trial. He gives me peace. He gives me strength. He gives me hope. He gives patience. It doesn't take the pain away but knowing that everything is going to be okay and that I'm not alone makes it that much easier. I know that the atonement is real. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for me, so I could be forgiven. I know he feels what I'm feeling. I know he knows me inside and out. I know that I wouldn't be where I am without my savior. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I know I wont always understand why things happen. I have to have faith that it is all happening for a reason.
If second, third, or fourth chances weren't an option.... I wouldn't be where I am today. I am so grateful that we have such a merciful, forgiving, loving Father in Heaven. He is my everything. I'm not confused anymore. I'm not lost. I know who I am. I know what makes me happy. I know what I want from this life and what I deserve. I know that I'm a daughter of our Heavenly Father and I know that he didn't give up on me for a reason. I love him with all of my heart.