Mitchell was a ravenous reader. I cannot remember a time that he wasn’t reading something. He was not above buying you a book as a gift and then borrowing it. So when someone shared with me, “You can’t pick up a book, read the last page and know what the book was truly about.” My heart knew this was true and I know Mitchell would agree.
My son’s last page was that he died by suicide on July 24, 2016. His father and I had anticipated that Mitchell’s life would be an epic novel, but that was not to be. His life ended abruptly on the cusp of manhood. No one saw it coming, not even Mitchell. Impulsive suicide is just that, impulsive.
Mitchell’s story and legacy lives on because the book of his life was filled with 21 years of love, life, friends, family and country. Mitchell was considerate, respectful and compassionate. He worked at being the best big brother he could to his sister, Hannah, and three brothers, Jackson, Samuel and Bennett. He always remembered their birthdays and wanted to make sure he got them something special. Recently, he developed a passion for motorcycles. His motorcycle family helped to ease his loneliness and gave him the support of a home away from home.
While he was incredibly intelligent, he didn’t take himself too seriously. A silly joke, a funny face or a dance contest showed his lighter side. Mitchell enjoyed participating in theater productions. He loved singing, water polo and photography. Mitchell loved a good argument, especially those that frustrated his verbal opponent. It didn’t matter what you were playing, he hated loosing and could never let someone win.
As a sailor in the Navy’s Nuclear Power School program, Mitchell was at the top of his class. He was proud of his service and we were proud of him. Mitchell posted on Instagram last October, “I wear my pride across my chest every single day. Those two patches are everything I need. (U.S. NAVY & BROWNLEE) My family and my country. I love my job, and I love the people in my life. Never lose sight of the things that are important to you.”
In the devastation of our loss, I share the story of Mitchell because I hope that it may save someone else the pain that we have suffered. At some point in our lives we all have a moment of hopelessness. I hope Mitchell’s story helps families to begin to have conversations about ways to cope with those feelings. Teens and young adults need to understand that suicide is not the answer, it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Mitchell…Daddy and I are honored to call you our son. We will love you forever and you are always in our hearts.
And here is the piece that I ended up creating in memory of Mitchell. I really wanted to incorporate Mitchell's love for motorcycles as well as the sunset as that was a picture that he had recently send his mom.