The Moment That Changed My Life Forever…Part 2. As Bridger said, "Time to get it done…"
by Melanie Griffin
Forever in our hearts...
The first part of my son's story was posted in November of 2013…for those of you who offered love, support and encouragement, thank you! Many asked me to explain how I knew angels existed and to please share the rest of his story…those of you walking this journey with me know that your moments of strength are few and far between; so, I apologize that it has taken so long to continue his story…I still take one moment at a time.
Every Life Tells A Story…This Is Mine: Bridger Wayne Hogan…May 20, 1993-April 19, 2011
Today, a former student of mine asked about losing my son; worried that she might upset me, she apologized for asking. So, first, I want to say, please never hesitate to ask a parent about their child. It helps to talk about it, and you are, honestly, giving them a chance to share their child’s life with you and letting them know that their child has not been forgotten!!
Losing Bridger was the hardest thing I have ever had to experience; although, our hearts break every day, while planning his funeral service, we made a decision as a family to be completely honest about the circumstances that led to his death; it was the only way for us to help others who might be going through something similar.
It all began in a 9th grade math class when another student gave Bridger a joint; I know many people think, “Oh, it just a joint…no big deal!” But, ultimately, that one joint led Bridger into a downhill spiral and took my child from me.
We all struggled with Bridger as we saw him going down a path that we knew could result in self destruction. If you are a parent, I don’t have to explain how much it hurts to see your child fighting and struggling and you want so badly to just fix everything and make it go away….BUT YOU CAN’T. We actually didn’t realized just how deep the issue had become until after his death. The week of April 17, 2011, I was made aware of some things, and I knew that it was time to lay it all out on the line; I took the week off of work to be with him and make sure we could take hold of what had grown to be a very serious issue. Sunday, April 17, 2011 after talking with Bridger, he admitted that he needed help and voluntarily said he would go to rehab. Immediately, my niece and I got on the phone and internet, desperately seeking a treatment center for Bridger. Unfortunately, there are not many treatment centers that will accept someone under the age of 18 for inpatient treatment. We found several, each with a waiting list a mile long. I remember thinking….what is wrong with this system, people with a serious problem DO NOT HAVE TIME TO WAIT!! That night Bridger, myself, a life long friend –Chris, and his step-brother – Mason all went riding around. We ate dinner with my daughter, and Bridger let her cut his hair for the first time…she had begged him for years to let her cut it! That night, his step-brother spent the night with us too; we, along with my newphew, Jon, watched movies and played around till late in the night!
With little options, I took him in first thing Monday (April 18) morning to our family doctor, “begging” him for help; Bridger was totally honest with him, but the only option we were given was a referral to a psychiatrist and a prescription. We spent the evening together again, riding around with his step-brother and their mutual best friend, Dalton. When we were just a couple of blocks from the house, a young lady called Bridger and he told her, “Me and my mom are almost home…I’ll call you back as soon as we get there.” Bridger and I sat in the truck and talked for a minute before going into the house…upon entering the house, he jetted up the stairs to return the phone call. A little bit later, after making a couple phone calls and letting my family know how things were going…I went upstairs to see if Bridger wanted to sleep with me. Yes, he was almost 18, but when things were hard are scary…sometimes he still wanted to sleep with his momma, and I loved that!!
When I reached his bedroom, I realized he was in the bathroom. I knocked on the bathroom door…with no response, I knocked again as I reached for the door knob. Never, in my worst nightmares, did I imagine what I was going to find…as I turned the door knob and cracked the door open, I felt weight against the door; it was then that I saw, through the slightly opened door, Bridger’s legs on the floor. I looked around the door, and my son was hanging from the bathroom doorknob!
I began to scream…and honestly, I couldn’t even tell you the things I screamed first! We were staying with my parents at the time (my niece and her husband were staying there too-waiting on their house to be ready to move into); my niece happen to be at the bottom of the staircase and heard me screaming; she yelled for my parents and all I can remember is hearing them all running up the stairs while I desperately tried to hold his body up to relieve the pressure of the belt that was around his neck. They could tell by the sound of my screams that something serious was wrong. They reached the bathroom, and thank God, someone was able to think at that moment! My father grabbed Bridger and held his body up while my mother and I fought to get the belt from around his neck. My dad laid him down on the floor, and my niece had 9-1-1 on the line…I remember her hitting the speaker button as she screamed at them…”Tell me how to do CPR….now.” At that moment, my father and niece began CPR, she doing the breathing and my father doing the compressions. I remember seeing my mother, panicked and in tears…just praying over Bridger. Without going into deep detail, I thought he was breathing at one point and I was still screaming…my father looked at me while still doing CPR and said, “Go down stairs now…call for help, we might get tired before the ambulance gets here.”
I did what my father told me to do…I called my husband (at the time-we are no longer married) and Bridger’s father, and they both headed to my parents’ house. Everything from that moment on is like a blur. I remember a police officer showing up and a few local people who were emergency responders. By the time the ambulance arrived, I was in my parents front yard on my knees…I didn’t’ know if I was going to pass out or throw up. I remember seeing the EMTs bring the stretcher back out of the house….empty. Although I already knew in my heart, I knew for sure at that moment that my son was gone.
There are no words to describe the complete despair that consumed my entire body and soul at that moment. I was in shock…as if it was all just a haze. The next thing I remember is seeing my niece, who performed CPR, sitting in the drivers seat of her car with her mother and father both in the car with her. She was crying uncontrollably, so I managed to get up off the ground and stumble over to the car. With both of us crying, she looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry…I tried so hard, I wanted to save him for you.” Through the tears, I told her, “I know you tried with all you had to save him, but I knew it when I touched him, that he was already gone.” She looked at me, barely able to speak and said, “I know, but I just couldn’t stop…I could feel him over my shoulder the whole time telling me that it was ok, I could stop. He told me he was okay and I could stop; I just couldn’t stop!” I cannot imagine what it must have been like for my niece and my father as they wore themselves out trying to save my son’s life. They didn’t ever give up…when the EMT’s arrived, they were still doing CPR.
I vaguely recall my parents taking me to their bedroom and closing all the blinds and doors; foreseeing the things to come in the next few hours, they were determined to protect me from seeing my son’s body carried out of their home. As I sat on the sofa in my parents’ bedroom, I remember this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach; I began to scream. “I’m never going to see my son again; he isn’t going to heaven…I’ll never see him again!!!” My parents began to try to calm me down; my mother asked me, “Why would you think he is not going to heaven?” I explained that I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and we were told all of our life that suicide was the ultimate sin and you could not be forgiven for that. I was at that moment that I remember my dad handing me a piece of paper to read. Too hysterical to read anything, I just pushed it back towards him. I didn’t realize that my father’s had gotten a text on his cell phone that simple said, “Check your email.” He had gotten up and gone over to his computer and printed this email out for me. My mother began to read the email to me; no one outside of that room could have known what was going on inside; no one could have known that I was hysterically screaming that I would never see my son again! However, God allowed someone to hear…the email came from a wonderful woman who had attended church with my parents in earlier years. To briefly describe the email…it stated, with evidence and support straight from the bible, that someone who commits suicide suffers from mental illness, and God doesn’t hold believers accountable for illnesses. It explained that mental illness, just like cancer, heart disease, etc…did not change the fact that a person was a child of God. That email possibly saved me…for it gave my heart a sense of comfort and peace, and gave me hope and faith that I would be with my son again one day.
The next days were like walking through a fog, just trying to feel my way through to the other side. How do you plan your child’s funeral when you can’t even grasp the thought that he is gone?
The only comfort to carry me through the days is knowing I will be with my son again…he is truly an angel!