This is the last picture taken of Denny. Piper has always been very attached to me, but the night before he disappeared, she was SO attached to him. He was the only other person she would go to with any sort of consistency. But that night she would not let him put her down. And I took this picture because I thought it was so cute how much she wanted him. Normally he would eat it up whenever one of the girls wanted him over me. He didn’t do that this time. He kept handing her back to me. Then she’d try crawling right off the bed to get back to him. He was stressed out and pacing the hallway while we chatted. But we were teasing each other and smiling and talking about how we can get through anything together. We talked about how much he loved his girls and how much his girls loved him. We talked about how strong he was. He expressed a lot of his inner struggles earlier on in the day and throughout the evening, but we ended the conversation well and talking about how I would help him work through stuff. It would be super hard, but we could do it. It was all of this stuff that I had no idea he was even dealing with back to his childhood. But still, even with all of this, NEVER in a million years would I have assumed this would be the outcome. Now here I am rocking this same sweet baby who learned how to walk a week after he died. This little not even 1 year old who has been screaming several nights per week all night long. Last night I think she let me sleep 3 hours total. She’s sick but that’s not the only reason she’s up all night crying. It’s cause she’s so confused. The only word she knew association with was “dada.” She was always jumping out of my arms at 530-545 in the evening when she heard the keys in the lock opening the door and she would crawl as fast as she could to get him. She adored him and had a specific giggle and smile she’d just do for Daddy (Winnie had one just for him too). None of this was any sort of warning that he would harm himself. I am very aware of the signs of suicide and mental illness. I’ve struggled with high anxiety most of my life along with some depression. I’m sensitive to these types of things in other people (especially in Denny). He did not have any of the typical warning signs. Nothing. Even when he was missing for a day and a half, I still didn’t think he could ever hurt himself. There weren’t warning signs. He had been so good for five years. He had finally found stability with me. He had finally found real joy and had gotten what he had always wanted. This wasn’t a long time coming. This wasn’t planned or thought out. He hadn’t been on medications for depression in years and years because he didn’t need it. He seemed stressed out but not anything more than that. He had NONE of the things that I have seen in other suicides and that they talk about in research. All of us close to him have felt guilt but when I think about it, there was really no way any of us could have known. No signs we could have followed. And while he was so open with me about EVERYTHING else, he still hid this deep down for years and years-even from himself with a lot of repressed memories. So so many. I can’t help but think that if there wasn’t such a stigma and so much embarrassment around depression and suicide, maybe he would have told me. Maybe he would have been able to say, “Dani, all of these things are coming up all of a sudden and I’m scared I’m going to hurt myself.” Or “I’m so overwhelmed by all of this and need help.” Or “Dani, I feel like a burden and like you’d be better off without me.” I will never actually know whether there would have been a difference. But I know that sharing my story so far has helped others and I will continue to do so as long as people keep asking me to. I will do whatever I can to help people talk about depression and these scary thoughts of suicidal ideation. Help me share this. Share your own story. Be brave and help me stop this from happening to someone else. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But I hope when you see my girls struggling, instead of feeling bad for us, say “I’m going to join this fight and help stop this.” Then do something. You are not a burden.

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