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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. The Ever Burning Light Of Love

Chuck Hinman: The Ever Burning Light Of Love Chuck recounts his own experience of a parent's worst nightmare, the loss of a child by suicide.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Predicament in Tulsa

By Chuck Hinman

The Ever Burning Light Of Love

Not long after Mary Ann's funeral I knew that some day I would write a piece telling how God held me in his arms through this, the worst nightmare a Dad can face, the loss of his only daughter by suicide. The time for writing that piece is now.

Without being aware of it, I experienced that spoken of in the Bible at Romans 5:5. Paraphrased, it says "the love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit which was given to me" when I became a born-again Christian. It causes me to love people who are not very lovable.

Chuck's daughter's suicide note

I keep Mary Ann's suicide note to me beside my recliner, and read it frequently. It is three handwritten pages. This statement gets my attention:

"I hope some day you will find a way to forgive me for all my sins."

Every time I read the above I think "what sins are you talking about?" There aren't any sins separating me and my love toward you! What do you mean?

Trying to learn more about depression

After the funeral I began to try to learn more about her depression problems and what part they played in her death. Although I was aware she had been treated for depression I had the feeling it was a female problem that only women understood. I conveniently copped out.

Sensing there may have been more to her problem and searching for answers, I began to chronicle some of her behavior problems. They became noticeable in her early teens and continued intermittently throughout her life.

I had in mind getting an appointment with her doctor to get an understanding of her depression problem and, with the information I could furnish, whether her problem was more serious than anyone realized -- including Mary Ann.

"Some day, I am going to make you proud of me"

Over the years, when we were getting her baled out of various problems, she would remark in her trademark way of thanking us, "Some day, I am going to make you proud of me." And I believed her only to be confronted with still another problem. I learned early on I could not depend on her to tell the truth.

There are 10 pages of incidents perhaps suggesting to a professional, a problem begging treatment. I will be ashamed forever for being so slow in this decision. I suppose I was hopeful we would work through it but it didn't happen. I learned and hope to warn others not to take depression casually. It's more than a female "thing."

Her final act of degradation was when on Sunday she came to my apartment while I was at church and forged my name to two checks supposedly for gambling to get money so she wouldn't lose her car and house to foreclosure. When she lost the money in a casino, her suicide clock was running. She would have to face me when I found out about the checks. That in her own words signaled suicide as the only answer.

So her suicide note begging that some day I would forgive her was not without substance. It was painfully real to her. And I reluctantly understand where she was coming from. She was a trapped animal and in her words "needed rescuing" -- and I was probably laughing and playing bridge!

Love without reservation

But what she didn't understand was that I loved her without reservation. I loved her in God's love that is even difficult for me to understand. But I know it happens because I have experienced it. When I was writing that ten page letter for her Doctor to see, I wondered what kept ME from killing her. The answer was that it was the love of God shed abroad in my heart toward Mary Ann. Do you see that? You don't have to understand it.

Several months before she took her life she came to me with an urgent need for $5,000 or she would face going to prison. I could hardly believe what she told me but she soon convinced me she was dead serious. The look in her eyes was unmistakable. I had told her many tines before that "this" was the absolute last time and that she would just have to suffer the consequences. She told me that if I would help her this one "last" time, she would pay me back when she withdrew some retirement funds. I felt so sorry that she had degraded herself more than I felt was humanly possible without mental damage. She cried profusely when we embraced before leaving. I told her that I would forget it if she would. I added that the only difference between me and her was that I knew her sins and she didn't know mine. She smiled her kid-like smile -- one of the last smiles I would see from my daughter.

Oh, how I miss her and her dropping in unexpectedly to visit me! She was always a breath of fresh air!

Mary Ann invariably asked for less money than she had need for. It stood to reason her problems never ended.

Others did care whether she lived or died

One thing for which I am eternally thankful is that she didn't take her life without anyone caring whether she lived or died. That would have haunted me forever. Here is another time where the love of God (Romans 5:5) was at work.

Several months after her funeral, Larry DeLaPorte her former husband and father of Kasi called me and said he had received a telephone call from Justin Trehan, a retired teacher near Chicago. He called for information regarding a Mary Ann DeLaPorte whom he had played games with on the Internet. Larry referred him to me, her Dad. I was reluctant to talk to him because of what he might tell me. I shouldn't have been afraid. He said that he and Mary Ann spent many delightful hours playing games. She told him about her daughter Kasi who was soon to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and her fiance Craig Zieminski who was in law school at Stanford University in Palo Alto California. She even confided in him her thoughts about suicide. Justin said he thought he had talked her out of suicide and was so distraught when he learned she had taken her life. Justin and his wife LaVonne are fine Christian people and I am forever indebted to them for the parental counsel they provided in a time of great need.

Recording of daughter's singing at church service

One last thing but very important for Mary Ann's family and friends to know. In cleaning out Mary Ann's condo, Larry found and gave to me a tape recording of Mary Ann singing at a Sunday morning service at Eastern Heights Baptist Church here in Bartlesville. At the close of that service, Mary Ann was probably convicted by the message of the song she had just sung and accepted Christ as her Savior at that service.

The words to the song were especially appropriate for Mary Ann, almost as if she penned them herself. The theme was "Jesus doesn't care where I've been or what I've done ... he still loves me." I play the tape frequently in my solitude here at Tallgrass Estates. Contrary to the times when I played for her voice lessons with Anita Woodring and Anita spent half her voice lesson time trying to develop self-confidence in a little girl who needed self confidence -- Mary Ann belted out this song with confidence so that I, her old Dad, have ever confidence I will see her soon in heaven.

Yes, Mary Ann, you were right -- Connie and I ARE so proud of you -- you little squirt! I LOVE YOU!

One of the many sympathy cards which I received said these words that describe exactly my feelings:

"Deep in the heart, steadfast and devout, there burns the light of Love that grief cannot put out." How true! Thank you Lord.

Written by Chuck Hinman, 2 December 2007

NOTE: Mary Ann took her life 3 years ago today, March 22, 2006. Paul and I will visit her gravesite this morning and then have dinner at Mary Ann's favorite place to eat -- Montana Mike's steak house here in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I may order a side of mushrooms in honor of Mary Ann and her daughter Kasi who always ordered mushrooms at MM's.

Many of you will cheer approvingly when you know that I tore up and threw away the ten pages of "incidents" on Mary Ann's account. No eyes ever saw it but mine, her Dad. Her account reads "Paid in Full!"

Added by Chuck Hinman, 22 March 2009

This story was posted on 2013-02-03 03:55:26
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