It was the very last conversation I had with my dad. It was around 6 o'clock on Christmas day 2010, and I was watching the Heat beat up on the Lakers (much to my delight might I add).
I was making my Merry Christmas phone calls. I called a few folks, then Grandma. When I spoke to Grandma she passed the phone to Aunt Doretha. With a voice laden with concern she said, "Have you spoke to your dad?" "Naw, not yet," I said. Then she said, "Well, tell him to call me."
As I hung up, my mind tried to piece together the tidbits of that brief exchange. I then called my sister Brandy, and much to my surprise she said, "Dad's here. You wanna speak to him?"
When she put him on he sounded detached and unexcited, but the dead giveaway was when I asked him if he was watching the game. Dad's from South Florida. His brother Mike works at the Heat's American Airlines Arena. We've watched the Heat-Lakers Christmas game together numerous times, but he said he didn't even know it was on.
Something's not right.
Turns out, Dad was severely depressed and so when he took his own life just ten days later none of us could say there weren't any warning signs. There were other signs, especially for those who were closest to him, but the reality is there were signs.
The holiday season is hardest for people who are going through a hard time.
Please, if you are close to someone who is showing signs of depression, addiction, or even expressing desire to harm themselves, please help them get help. You cannot force them to change, but you can encourage them to seek professional help.
Call a pastor, counselor, therapist, or some other medical/mental health professional. If they don't want to listen to you, tell them my story.