Death comes at the most unexpected times.

David Hollingsworth

I don't know how I'm going to write this without completely breaking down. Last night, around 11:15, my mom called to let me know that Debbi Hollingsworth, someone who had been like a second mom to me throughout my teen years, had unexpectedly passed away.

It didn't seem real to me. To some extent, it still doesn't. I've been very fortunate in that I've avoided major deaths in my life. My grandparents mostly passed away either before I was born or when I was too young to remember. This is the first time in my life that someone that I loved just isn't here anymore.

I need to tell you about the incredible person that Debbi was. I met her when I was 14 years old. I got paired with her husband, David, for a church assignment and quickly became adopted into their family. I'd spend many Sunday's after church hanging out on their couch and watching football. She would always make lunch and had a smile on her face. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. My home life during this time period wasn't always the greatest so it was a blessing to have a safe place I knew I could go.

As the years went on and I got older, I drifted away from church but whenever I'd see her or David in public, we'd always exchange pleasantries as if no time had passed at all. She truly helped shape me into the man that I would become. She encouraged me to go back to college and didn't hesitate to help when I told her that I needed money for books. She was the most selfless person I've ever met and truly brightened every room she ever went into. She was also a neat-freak which is probably why the rooms felt brighter, too.

She knew that I could be more than what I was being when I was a directionless 19 year old. She was one of the first "audience" members I ever had when I decided I wanted to do stand-up. Without those awkward living room performances, I don't think I'd have ever gotten up the courage to pursue my dreams on an actual stage.

I last saw Debbi about a year ago at the Courier and Press Homeshow. She was always looking for new projects for her home to occupy the time. I was at the Homeshow to broadcast for work and the look of pride on her face when she saw that I was working in radio is something that I'll never forget. When we hugged that day, i didn't realize it'd be the last hug I'd ever get from her. I'll miss those hugs the most. Her mashed potatoes are a close second.

I don't know what the circumstances that lead to your untimely passing or why you felt that you couldn't go on, but it breaks my heart to think you felt that way. I wonder if I had reached out or still been actively involved in your life if things could have turned out differently. You were the last person I would have ever thought would die this way. You brought so much joy to everyone around you, it's a shame you couldn't save any for yourself. I'm not the first person to write this as a result of someone taking their own life unexpectedly. I, sadly, won't be the last. As someone who's opened up about my own struggles in the past, it's true what they say: depression can affect anyone at anytime.

I miss you. I hate that I don't have any pictures of us readily available to share with the world and show how much happiness you brought me. You helped me more in my life than you'll ever know. I don't know what comes after this life, but I hope you've found the peace you deserve. You always said that I was the son you never had. It was an honor to be your adopted son. I love you, Debbi, and I hope that I can make you proud.

 

*If you or someone you know is feeling like ending their life, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255*