As I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, my feed is constantly filled with laughing children, spouses embracing, family vacations, and everything you could imagine that would make someone happy. You see these pictures, read the heart felt captions, and believe that all is at peace in their world. Then one day you find out that the oh so happy social media couple is getting a divorce. Or that those vacations were paid for with credit cards because one of your friends lost their job.
A picture doesn’t seem worth a thousand words anymore…
Last Tuesday I woke up to a text message from my sister. It was a screen shot of my cousin Krystal’s Facebook page and what she had posted at 3:40am, 2 hours prior. It had a picture of her brother, Scott, and his 2 daughters with a caption reading “Please pray for my family and Scott’s precious baby girls. Words cannot describe how broken we are right now. You will be greatly missed Bubba!!”. Missed??? Had he run away? Had he decided that he no longer wanted to live in Kentucky and just up and left? I get it- not the most happening place but where had he gone??
We tried calling our dad. It was 5:40am. No answer. We needed to know what was going so we continued to watch Facebook. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Reading the numerous posts that flooded his page we realized he didn’t leave Kentucky to go somewhere warmer. He had left us all for good.
My dad called me about 3 hours after we texted him to tell me what he had just found out. To be honest, we weren’t that surprised that if something had happened that we had not heard about it yet. We did not know this part of our family for most of our lives. My dad and his dad were estranged for most of my life so it was not until I was in college that we reconnected with my granddad, my aunts, and cousins. I had only met Scott a handful of times.
When my dad called, he told me that he talked to his sister Susan as soon as he saw our text messages. That’s when he heard. My cousin had taken his own life. She told him they had all recently found out that his wife had left and it turns out their marriage had been going downhill for quite sometime. It also turns out it was more than he could handle. We talked for a minute after that. About what, I can’t remember, but we hung up pretty quickly. And I just sat there. Sat there staring at the floor. The wall. The black screen on my TV. I had no idea there were any problems. I followed he and his wife on Facebook and they always looked so happy. They always looked like they were having so much fun laughing and playing with the kids.
I also had no idea how to feel. It was my 1st cousin but I did not know him well. It was my 1st cousin who had decided it was better to leave his children without a father than to deal with his life. I was in shock.
It was 2 more days before I would allow myself to think about it again. I pushed it out of my mind. I didn’t bring up the topic at home. I ignored any phone calls or Facebook posts about it. That Friday I was working from home. I do not know what hit me but right before lunch I answered a few emails, closed my computer, and I lost it. I mean I completely lost it. I didn’t know him that well so why was I so upset? We had never spent time hanging out at family reunions stuffing our faces and making fun of our family. We had never spent Christmas together as kids swapping presents or talking about what Santa had left under the tree. We had never watched our kids play together and seen how special it was for them to get to know each other. We had never done any of those things…and we never would.
But the main thought going through my mind wasn’t about me.
The main reason I was crying…what about his two little girls? Two little girls that now have to grow up without their father. They are 5 and 2 and they will only know him through pictures and stories. All I can think, when I finally allow myself to think about it, is why. Why did he try so hard to make them look like such a happy little family instead of seeking help? Maybe things would have been different if we had known more of what he was going through.
One of the first people I ever worked with in real estate also showed me that we do not always know what someone is going through.
The first time we spoke, she called me about a listing I had in Gallatin. We were already under contract with a buyer on that home but she asked if I could help she and her husband see a few others. We went 2 days later to see a handful of homes and they found one they loved. We got the deal worked out and everything seemed to be going well.
About a week after we went under contract she totally changed. She no longer talked kindly to me on the phone. She would scream at me if there was anything she needed. She called me so irate one time and used so many cuss words I about hung up but something stopped me.
On this phone call, she was upset with her agent in North Carolina that was selling her home there. She was upset saying she couldn’t get some questions answered quick enough. She said the agent was all over the place and did not get her what she needed. She wanted me to help her and lost it when there were issues I could not help her with since I am licensed in TN.
She was horrible to me throughout pretty much the entire closing process even leaving hateful voicemails if I wasn’t able to answer my phone. I had no clue what I had done to make her act so aggressively towards me.
At the final walk through, her son joined us and he pulled me outside to talk. He told me that a year ago they had lost his older brother to cancer. Now, so they could be closer to him and his family, his parents were selling the home they had lived in for over 40 years and moving across the country to a new place. A place where they did not know a soul outside of he, his wife, and their daughter. He said that it had all become too much for her. He apologized for how she treated me, told me multiple times I had been a huge help, and asked me not to think of her in that way, that she was actually a very sweet lady.
He also told me that he had been so afraid for her a few weeks before closing. That he had taken extended time off work to go to North Carolina and stay with them until they got to TN. He wanted to be there when they had to go through his brother’s things that had been stored away since his death. He didn’t know what she might do and was scared of what might happen if he wasn’t there.
Now I get it. I understand why she acted the way she did.
I learned very early in my career from this family that people don’t just move because their family’s growing and they need a bigger place. Or because they have a new and exciting job relocating them to or from Nashville. Sometimes they are moving and it is causing them immense pain…and they may never tell me about it. Having my shit together is what I have to do to make this time as stress free as possible for them.
Not sure what I could’ve done for Scott. Scott posted many sweet pictures of his family, his wife included, quite often on social media. Two days before he left us he posted a picture of his wife and their daughter that was captioned “My world”. I had no clue his world was falling apart.
The road ahead is going to be hard for our family. Please keep them in your thoughts and your prayers. Scott’s mom, his sisters, his daughters, and everyone else whose life he touched. They will need it.