December 2007. Komron, Jenna, Josh, Beth, and Christa Saadati.

June 2014. First family photo taken without Jenna.

It wasn’t supposed to happen.

With no forewarning, on the evening of January 2, 2013, my life forever changed. In a moment, suicide separated my firstborn child, my teenage daughter, and my beloved friend from me.

It’s not how I ever imagined life would look. Left behind, with no opportunity to say goodbye. Well-acquainted with grief and sadness. Broken.

If I could run away from the pain of my daughter’s absence I would, because much of life—the memories, the present reality—is now bittersweet. Since I can’t, I’ve determined to learn that life’s bitter moments don’t have to define my story. That, even in loss, sweet moments abound.

I still struggle to stand. But I do—longing to be whole again, believing that someday, somehow, I will be. Strengthened by faith, family, and friends, I walk through the aftershock of suicide and relearn the world in the aftermath of loss.

Attempting to pen a young adult novel based on Jenna’s true story, I write. Maybe it will start a conversation that will mean life for others. Maybe other families won’t have to walk the road mine has. Maybe, through it, we’ll see the lies that too easily lodge in our hearts and minds for what they are, counter them with truth, and choose to fully live.

The novel will conclude where my daughter’s life stopped. But the stories didn’t end with Jenna’s last breath. They’ve continued to come.

I’ve been pregnant with these stories—moments that have challenged me to continue to live. To love others. To let myself be loved. They’re ready to be birthed, here, with the hope that they might speak to others too.

Because there’s power in story—even if it’s bittersweet. Or, possibly, especially when it’s bittersweet.

Thank you for journeying with me. Words can’t tell you how honored and humbled I am that you would.

With love,