Ben & Cody Jinks

 

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I have always loved music, in particular, country music. But once I had my kids, life got busy and I didn’t have time to listen anymore.
A couple of years ago Ben walked in and said, “Mom you have to hear this song! It’s us!”
It was Mama Song, and it was definitely us!
I had seen Cody’s videos and been sharing them for quite sometime before that day, so I was surprised I hadn’t heard it before. But, it was the perfect song that described this mother and son relationship.

A year or so later I would lose my beautiful tortured boy to suicide on Thanksgiving Day 2017.
For a few months I was in a fog. Hell, I may still be. But, a couple of months after his death, I started listening to Ben’s music. Ben loved music, in particular Texas country and rap.  Yeah, rap. Ugh. I can’t do the rap but I dove into the country!
At Ben’s funeral we played Alan Jackson’s “Drive” because it reminded him of his uncles.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. That had always been our song since the first time we watched “Remember the Titans” together.

Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again”. He Loved Wiz Khalifa! When he was a freshman, the principle had to tell him to quit  writing Wiz on everything!! No, he didn’t get in . The principle loved him. Hell, everyone loved him!

His girlfriend, Ashton, had told us his favorite song at the time he died was Chris Young’s “Neon”. So we played that as well.

Sadly, we lost her the next week, the same way. She wanted to be with Ben.

I wanted “Mama Song.” That had to be played! The pastor wouldn’t let us play it in the church, so we had it blasting at the graveside!
On his headstone we had the words to Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller” inscribed. Ben had also been the one to play that for me.

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That was the night I knew I would lose him. That was the song playing when I picked his pallbearers a year before they were needed. I knew that night. But, that’s another story.
It has been Cody Jinks that has brought me through these last months. His songs could easily be talking about my Ben. “I got an angel on my shoulder, but I got the devil too.” So poignantly perfect!

Ben’s quick wit, and bright smile disguised the darkness he was fighting. Yes, he fought hard to stay here. He told me he didn’t want to die. He told me that he loved his life. But the pull was to strong.

In Cody’s music, I hear that battle he fought! I wish I could have understood it better. When I hear, “Last Call For The Blues”, I picture Ben. I can hear myself saying those words to him.

“I’m Not The Devil.” I can hear him saying that to me. But, I never thought he was. He was harder on himself than those of us who were fighting for him were.
“Loud and Heavy.” Holy crap! That song is perfect!

“Bad news surrounds me. It’s always found me. Creepin’ up when things are good. Yeah, the dark days find a way!”

That was Ben’s life. Nothing came easy for him.
“No Guarantees”, “Been Around”, “David”, “Heavy Load” and finally, “Head Case.”

“Sometimes it takes a thin white sheet to put things into place.”

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Since Ben’s passing I have seen Cody twice. Once in Witchita Falls, then at Loud and Heavy this last weekend. I have cried through “Mama Song” both times. Yesterday, I placed a guitar pick, given to me by one of Cody’s friends on Ben’s  headstone .A6DA004F-9301-41F4-9043-70651314C899

Thanks to the man who is helping me get through this!! Helping me to understand what was in my kids head. Damn.

Someday I will meet Cody and tell him how his music is bringing me back.

If you are going through what I am, give Cody’s music a listen. The understanding it brings can comfort you through the hard days.
Ben left me a great group of boys who I can call on anytime and I know they will be here for me! That’s what Cody is. He is one of my boys who I call on. He never lets me down.

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

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Is this Real?

It is completely weird to say my son’s headstone is awesome, beautiful or worst of all, perfect. But it is all of those things.

To this day, I rarely use past tense words. Was, had, use to. They don’t just slide off the tongue. I actually have to think about it.

When does it change? Will it be a decision I make, or will it just happen one day and I won’t even notice?

It’s going on 8 months and it’s still not real.

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I go out to his grave at least twice a week, most weeks more than that. I change his flowers. I add things, I take things away. I am careful to leave the things his friends put on there. But I wonder when will they stop visiting him. Life goes on. At what point will I remove the things they have placed there?

For me (most days) Ben is not dead. He is just not here right now. On the days that I realize he won’t be walking through the door, I am inconsolable. I just want to be alone those days. Those days are getting further apart. Will they stop altogether one day? I hope not. Then it will be real. I never want it to be real.

A visit from Ben

 

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A couple of nights ago my nieces, Faith, Kasey and I were talking about Ben. We had been out to the cemetery because the girls wanted to see the lights at night. When we came through the door I pointed to a picture that Samantha and I had taken with Ben at my cousins wedding. He was an usher so he had to wear a suit. But he also had to wear a blue bow tie!! I was not a fan of that picture (or the suit). I thought he was too handsome to be wearing a bow tie.

Anyway, I was telling the girls how Ben always makes the picture crooked as I’m straightening it for hundredth time. I reach over and straighten another one that was crooked as well. As soon as I sit down Kasey says “Ben, tilt any picture in the room.” I didn’t really think anything about it.

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An hour or so later, the girls are sitting on the sofa watching YouTube videos and I’m in my chair watching the news. All of a sudden my daughter Samantha’s dog, Miley, jumps up and starts growling and barking! The hair on her back is standing up (Miley doesn’t live here, she is just visiting). She is barking at one of the pictures on the wall. A picture of Samantha and Ben.

I tell the girls she is barking at Ben. It’s the only thing that makes sense because the other 3 dogs weren’t making a sound. They didn’t even react. They always react! When one dog barks they all bark! EVERYTIME!

About 10 minutes after Miley settles down, Faith says, “Aunt Sherry the picture is crooked again!” Then, “So is that picture! And that picture!” Every picture in the room was crooked!! He always lets me know he is still here.

Thanks son.

The First Sign

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This is my son Ben and his beautiful girlfriend Ashton.  We lost him on Thanksgiving 2017 to suicide.  A week later, Ashton took her own life as well.  To say it was the most painful time in my life is an extreme understatement.

Ben suffered from Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder.  Ashton suffered from a broken heart and bullying.  Several kids blamed her for Ben’s death.  Those kids did not know what Ben had dealt with for most of his young life.

In the days and months since I have had many signs that Ben is with me. The first was the night after his passing.

Ben has had a Walker Coon Hound for about 8 years. While she is Ben’s dog, guess who took care of her most of the time?  Yep, good Ole Mom!  When it gets dark and all the animals start coming out of the woods behind our house she goes nuts baying at them.  So, each night I bring her inside so that she doesn’t keep the neighbors up all night.  I’ll usually take her out once or twice before I go to bed.  It’s normally a simple procedure.   Since she has an 11ft leash, I can stand on the porch and she can wander around until she finds the right spot to go potty.  Then we go straight back in and into her kennel she goes.

Since life goes on whether I like it or not she still had to be taken care of.  I brought her in as usual.  A few minutes after being in her kennel she started making a sound I had never heard before.  It sounded like whining and groaning at the same time.  I decided to take her out and see if she needed to potty.  But the minute I got the leash on, she started dragging me toward the door and down the steps we go!  She had her ears perked up and she was listening to something.  She was scanning trying to find it.  Then suddenly she put her head down and started sniffing.  She started pulling me and then her head would fly up and her ears would perk.  She just kept listening and scanning again.  I have 3 acres and we walked this whole place doing that procedure over and over again. She never found what she was looking for or what she was hearing.  After searching the front porch she gave up and went back into her kennel.

I 100% believe Ben was calling her name.  When we came back in she laid down in her kennel and cried!  She knew he was gone now.  She had never done that before and she has never done it since.

I know this was long but it is just the first of the many signs I have had. I will tell you others at another time. If you get this far God bless your heart for doing so! ❤️ 13094111_10208607232072536_4177980844889983265_n

The Ugly Truth

C29F0DC4-D4BF-4984-A429-74A16FE4BD0BRecently I heard someone say that the truth needs to be told about the aftermath of suicide, and I agree! So, here goes.
I knew something was wrong.  This is a small town and news travels fast.  I was already hearing something had happened but no one would tell me what.
I called my best friend and told her I needed her to get over here now! It was Thanksgiving Day but like the friend she is, she dropped what she was doing and flew over!!

First there’s the call. Mine was from a county judge.
The phone rings, and he says, “This is so and so, the Palo Pinto county judge. Is Benjamin Davis your son?”

Now my heart is racing and I’m just holding my breath. He keeps talking. Blah, blah, blah.

I see Krissie pull up and I scream at the man, “JUST SAY IT!!!”

He says, “Ma’am your son is dead.”

I throw the phone at Krissie and just started pacing back and forth. Crying, and saying NO! NO! NO!All I wanna do is reach inside and pull all of my guts out! That’s how it feels when they tell you your son is dead !!
I have to call my family. I can’t keep it together as I tell each one Ben hung himself and he is dead !! Each time the words come out of my mouth, I start sobbing harder than the time before. But it had to be me that told them.

As the day goes on and information starts coming in, we figure out he was out there all night!! My baby boy out there all night by himself in the cold!! Can you see the picture in your mind? Ben hanging there dead!  Look!! You have to see it to know the pain! It hurts so bad!!! I can’t stop it!! Still.

That night when I got to bed all I could think about was Ben and the last minutes of his life. When he put that rope around his neck did he know he would literally be breaking the hearts of his mom, sister, family and friends? No, I don’t believe he did. Did he pray before? My God I hope so!! I will never know. Is he in hell? They say you go to hell if you kill yourself. Did he struggle and try to get out of it? How long did it take him to die as he was hanging there? There is nothing romantic about suicide! It is a vicious animal that eats on the people left behind!!!

I don’t remember a lot during that time, but I do remember going and picking out his casket. I just kept saying, “It isn’t supposed to be this way!” I looked at picture after picture of caskets! A casket to carry my son and lay him in the cold ground! I looked at the prices and I just kept thinking that money could have been used to get him a car. But it wasn’t a car.  It was a casket!

As we walked in to the visitation, they started the video they had made, the first notes of ”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” came on. Samantha, possibly the strongest person I have ever known, turned and threw her arms around my neck, sobbing so hard her body was shaking! This is what Ben did to his sister, the person he had worshipped all his life!
Ben’s funeral was closed casket because Samantha and I did not want to see his dead body just laying there. When the service was over, I walked up and kissed the top of the casket. It’s the closest I will ever be to kissing my baby boy again!

Now there is a big beautiful headstone with his pictures on it. I can look at it and I can talk to it. But my son is laying underneath it, rotting in the ground! That’s the truth, that’s the ugly truth!

If you are thinking about suicide this is an extremely small part of the pain and devastation you are leaving behind.
This was not told lightly. A few events in the last several days led me to telling the truth. If you are making bad decisions, do not use Ben as your excuse. Seek the help he wouldn’t! Ben is not here! Take care of your families, if you know Ben at all, you know this is what he would tell you to do!!! Will you do it ?

 

 

Brotherhood

9CFB3497-DA6E-488F-84D4-B36CBA495600These boys are the friends Ben left behind. Each one of them represents a period in Ben’s life. These are the young men that carried Ben to his rest. Several of them carried Zach as well.

When the media tells you how divided we are, think of this picture. One will be naming his soon to be born son after Ben. Three (so far) have Ben’s name tattooed on their arms. Their devotion to Ben is strong! I love them all the more for it!

These are small town millennials Their lives are interwoven. They are my sons! I know they would be there for me in an instant if I called! I hope they know I would do the same for everyone of them!

When you pray, pray for them. They have lost 3 members of their crew in less than a year. 2 to suicide and 1 in an oilfield accident. They have also lost Ashton, she was a piece of Ben and they loved her as well.

3 Little Ducks

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In March, 2017 one of Ben’s best friends shot himself.

Zach was a bright-eyed kid with an infectious smile.  He and Ben became close in 7th grade.  They both had a love for hunting and fishing.  They would spend their weekends together doing one or the other.

Then, just like that, Zach was gone.  He left behind a girlfriend and a son.

Ben had trouble wrapping his mind around it.  We all did.

During the week between first losing Ben and then Ashton, she spent her days at my house.  It was her way of staying close to Ben.

We were all pretty much in a trance that week.  Losing Ben was (and is still) so unbelievable.  I would talk to the girls (Samantha and Ashton) and I told them to be watching for ducks.  I recalled for them a conversation Ben and I had a couple of months earlier:

I had been watching ‘Long Island Medium.’

Ben:  You know this is bullshit, right?  How could she possibly know that stuff?

Me:  Well, I’ll tell you what.  When I die (I was supposed to go first) you go see her and I will tell her to draw a duck!

I had always called Ben and Samantha my little ducklings because I felt like a momma duck when they were following me.  

I just knew that somehow Ben would send a duck because of this conversation.

Ashton would say that she was watching for signs but nothing was happening.  I would tell her to be patient, that it would come.  I knew Ashton was brokenhearted and I really wanted Ben to send her a sign.  I even told Samantha that I was thinking about getting a duck and somehow putting it in Ashton’s path.  But, I didn’t get that chance.  Just like Zach and Ben, she was gone, too!

Ben is buried out in the country and Ashton is buried in a cemetery out past that.  After leaving Ashton’s funeral, we were getting close to the cemetery where Ben is buried and my sister pointed out a huge flock of birds flying over.  I said, “Oh my God!  Those are ducks Donna!”  I knew that they were ducks because of the “V” formation.  They were flying over Ben’s grave.  Hundreds of them.  I sped up trying to catch them.  The big flock had flown on but then three ducks came flying low over the car.

I know that it was Zach showing Ben and Ashton the way.

But, wait!  It doesn’t end there.

The very next time that I logged onto facebook someone that I didn’t know had tagged Ashton in a photo of ducks flying over her funeral.  The ducks were aligned in the shape of an “A!”

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I know that Ashton got up there and she told Ben his mom was waiting on ducks!  And boy did they come through! Thank you Ashton!

(I received permission from Claudia Mendoza who originally posted the “A” story.  She will be hearing this story for the first time when she reads this.)