Shine a Light

Hey everyone.  I’d figured I’d start this with a heads up. This post will be unlike all of the others I’ve written. It has a little more of a serious tone than I usually write with. However, I feel like it is necessary to shine a light on it.

This post is dedicated to the Kirlin family.

January 4th, 2018

This date is the day my life, and many others’, changed forever.

It was a cold January day, which is norm for the Midwest. My friend and I were going to see the new Star Wars movie in Omaha. We lived in Missouri Valley, which is only about 20 minutes away from Omaha.

We stopped at Freddy’s Burgers and Fries, which is a pretty cheap burger joint. I just sat down with my double burger with fries when I got the call.

It was my mom, but instead of a cheerful ‘hello’, she was in tears. Having a hard time making out the words, she told me what had happened.

One of our closest family friends, committed suicide. I don’t really know what my mom said after that, because I was in pure shock. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t believe it.

He was my best friends’ brother, he was my parents’ best friends’ son, and he was someone I looked up to. The fact that his pain was so extraordinary that he didn’t want to deal with it anymore is so gut wrenching, mostly because no one can sense it.

My friend and I rushed home to see the family at the hospital. The waiting room was packed with family friends, all in tears. It didn’t really hit me until I met up with my parents, where I finally lost control of my emotions.

For the rest of that day, all we could ever think about was, ‘why would he do this?’ And that is easy to say for people who haven’t experienced the emotional and mental pain he was going through.

He felt alone. He felt as if he was a disappointment. He felt like he wasn’t loved. The thing is, all of that was false. The outpour of support from friends, family, and community was something I’ve never seen before. It was another reason why I love small-town Iowa; everyone has each other’s back, even when they don’t feel like getting up.

Sure, all of us can think of things we could’ve done something different to prevent this from happening. Hindsight is 20/20, and the reality is that he hid the pain so well.

I don’t really remember a time that he didn’t have a smile on his face. Whenever I wasn’t with his little brothers, I would talk to him about new movies, video games, or music. I always valued his opinions, and he always had a laugh that’d make you laugh.

People suffer without letting a soul on earth knowing about it. That is what depression can do to your mindset. I like to describe depression almost like a parasite. Depression takes over the steering wheel of your brain, while you take the back seat. How he left us wasn’t like him. He would never hurt a fly. It’s the depression that took over, and the rest is history.

Picking up the Pieces

The reason I chose to write about this, is because depression is a sickness that many people are battling everyday without anyone else having the slightest clue about it. College is a tough transition and many students may be battling depression.

The University of Iowa offers many counseling services to students.

If you are reading this and are battling depression, please don’t feel like you’re in this fight alone. Although you feel like you mean nothing, your family and friends think otherwise.

Sometimes people do have a bad day here and there. And you know what? That’s okay. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. What I always tell myself and my friends is, “It’s a bad day, not a bad life”. The hard moments make you appreciate the good ones.

Never feel like you’re in this battle alone. Never feel like nothing will get better. Never question your self-worth.  Never feel like giving up.

Talk to a friend, a roommate, a co-worker, brother/sister, aunt/uncle, parent, even a favorite teacher. Whatever you do, just reach out. There is at least one person in your life that is willing to help you. If you can’t think of anyone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

If you are a friend of a person suffering depression, check in whenever you can. That can come from a simple text or a night out with other friends. Always listen, always let them vent. Just simply being there for them will lessen the pain.

Losing someone to depression is something no one should ever have to experience. The pain and the endless questioning are second to none.

A Letter to Lane

Dear Lane,

I know you’re in a better place. You’re no longer suffering and you’re at peace. We all hope you watch over us and give us the signs that everything is okay. Your impact on my life will always lead me to a fruitful one. You always had a smile on your face, even though deep down you were in so much pain. I just want to thank you for all the great memories we had, even though we weren’t always the closest. I feel bad for all the kids that won’t have you as a teacher, because you would’ve been a life changing one at that. Thank you for all the great memories and laughs. Watch over your brothers and parents. You’ll inspire me to always lend a helping hand to whoever needed it, like you always did.

Thank you,



2 thoughts on “Shine a Light”

  1. Very thoughtful Derek. It’s great to see you growing and maturing into a respected adult. Thanks and keep up the excellent work. You know your parents gave you a great start in life. Discuss that with them and follow their lead….

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