FIND ME - The story behind the song
For Laura, who never had the chance to hear her song.
January 3,1979 - June 26, 2015
There was a time, years ago, when I would wonder how songs were written. I know every song has it's own story. But we don't always get to hear those stories. And that's ok. A lot of songs speak to us, and so it doesn't always matter why the song was written.
What matters more, is that it WAS written.
During the middle of my junior year in high school, my dad transferred to another office and we moved 2 hours away. We found ourselves in a new town, a new home and a new high school, surrounded by new faces. It was scary and yet exciting. And my mother taught me to bloom where I was planted. So I intended on doing just that.
One of the first people I remember meeting in my new school was Laura Lincoln. We had several classes together and I remember her being pretty quiet, but genuinely kind. And although Laura was quiet, and seemed almost somewhat shy in the classroom, on the Volleyball court, Basketball court and Track, she was aggressive. She was a starter on the Girls Basketball team that won state that year.
She placed at state in the hurdles when track season came. The event I remember her the most in however, was the 4x100m relay team, because I was on that team. We worked well together. We were a good team. Laura was the first leg of the relay team. She always got us into the perfect position to do well in the race. Our 4x100m relay team ran the third fastest time in state history for 3A schools our junior year. A week later, we ended up placing 2nd at state. Our senior year track season was almost as successful, when we placed 3rd at state. We made wonderful memories working together, running together and finishing strong.
Laura went on to college at Southern Oregon University. She continued competing, in not one sport, but three. She played Volleyball, Basketball and ran Track. She also got her nursing degree, and after graduation Laura moved to Seattle to start a new chapter.
My life had taken a different direction and by the time Laura graduated from college, I had been married for a few years and was busy raising children. Laura and I lost touch with one another for awhile. My mom would send me newspaper clippings about Laura when she would find them. And I was so happy for her success.
To me, Laura was such an example of hard work and dedication. She had reached her goals. I held her on a pedestal in my mind and was so proud of her and all of her accomplishments.
From the outside, from a distance, Laura seemed to have it all. She seemed to be happy.
But from the inside, Laura had an internal struggle that I was unaware of. And she coped with it through alcohol.
In May of 2008, only 8 years after she had graduated college, Laura attempted to end her life by throwing herself off of an overpass into oncoming traffic in Seattle. She survived, but she had many broken bones. She would be in the hospital for quite awhile, with multiple surgeries lined up to help her reconstruct her broken body. But there is no surgery to fix a broken spirit. Only time and love and light can do that. Or something like that.
I later came to find that this had not been her first attempt. She had been struggling for years. But I didn't know any of that. I was wrapped up in being a wife and mother. And inner struggles aren't often the first topic of conversation to come up when you haven't talked to a friend for awhile.
I sat there, feeling so far away from her and helpless. Knowing that she was in pain, wondering what could have happened in her life to bring her to this moment.
And the tears started to fall.
What could I do to help? I knew that if I wanted to really help her, I needed to better understand her. So I tried to put myself into Laura's mind, and to try to feel what she might have been feeling. I sat at the piano and started to play. And then I started to sing.
And the tears wouldn't stop coming as I cried and I sang and I poured it all out.
It was a call for help. Yet no one could hear it. I felt the pain. I felt the loneliness. I felt the struggle. And I cried even harder as I begged;
"Can somebody find me? And lead me to the light?
In all this darkness, there's got to be something that's right.
But I can't find it. Not on my own. No I can't find it.
Please. Please, won't somebody find me."
It was such a powerful moment. One that I will never forget.
And by the time I was finished, I was drained with emotion and exhaustion.
I had never been so connected to a song before. And I had never felt closer to Laura.
Later that day, I asked for the opinion of someone I trusted, as I was excited to share what I had experienced. I told him the story of what had happened and then I sang the song I had just written. His reaction was not what I had hoped for. In fact, it felt almost as if a knife was cutting my heart into tiny pieces as he spoke words such as "you were meant to perform, not write" and "keep working" and "Let the writers write. You just keep singing!" I was embarrassed and ashamed and felt like a foolish little girl being patted on the head. I cried so hard on the inside, but on the outside, I pushed his hurtful words to the back of my heart and buried my feelings right along side of the song. All the insecurities screamed out that it was not good enough. That I was not good enough. And that I was a fool for thinking differently.
And then, I made myself forget about it.
I started writing letters to Laura. Email access was limited in the hospitals, so we wrote letters back and forth by hand as she made her way through her painful road to recovery.
I tried to muster up as much positivity as I could in those letters. Just hoping she could find her purpose. She never went into detail of what was causing her pain. But she did thank me for the letters. I was so happy to be in contact with her and wanted so badly to let her know that she was loved and thought of. I wanted to help her find the beauty. The love. The light. I wanted her to know that she was not alone. And for awhile, I felt like it was working. We moved closer to home for awhile. I was so excited to be closer to Laura and had made plans to visit with her. She had planned a big camp out at her parents property. And I was making plans to attend. I had made a big batch of cinnamon rolls and left early to drive to their house. I called her to let her know I was on my way, but she didn't answer. I tried several times and finally got through to her. She told me that she was on her way home to Seattle and had to leave. And that she was sorry she wouldn't be able to see me.
Confused, I reached out to someone I knew was a close friend and mentor to Laura. An old track coach that went above and beyond to help Laura through her healing. She informed me that Laura was struggling and her parents had found alcohol/cough syrup in her luggage and confronted her about it. There was an argument and she left. I had no more details than that.
My heart hurt for Laura. It hurt for her parents. It hurt deeply.
And I didn't know what else to do.
I continued to write letters. And Laura continued to write back. But over time, fewer and fewer letters were being passed back and forth. She seemed to be doing better. She was attending AA Meetings. She was able to walk and train again and even got involved with a race. She sounded optimistic. And I thought she was healing.
I hoped with all my heart she was.
Then, on June 26th, 2015, I was informed that Laura had taken her life.
Laura was gone. The tears filled my eyes and a heaviness filled my heart.
I couldn't help her in the end. She was still suffering too much, and nothing I did had mattered.
In the days following her death, I started looking through pictures from high school to bring to the funeral. In the first box I opened, right on top, sat a piece of paper. Hand written lyrics from years before, just sitting there, waiting to be found. The song I had written for Laura.
I took it out of the box and walked slowly to the piano. The tears starting to stream down my face. It all came back to me. I started playing it like I had never forgotten it. I started singing with the same emotion coming over me. It was almost as if Laura was reminding me that this song was written for her. And the tears wouldn't stop. She was gone. But the song was here, waiting for me to find it.
I wanted to record it and share it with her parents and close friends. But there was something holding me back. Those insecure voices screaming out that I wasn't good enough. That this song wasn't good enough. That I wasn't a good writer.
And it was a fragile time, as Laura was gone. I didn't want to hurt anyone more than they were already hurting. So many voices in my head. And the pain of losing her was so fresh.
I couldn't do it. I wasn't ready.
So I buried the song once more.
Three years later, it sat there, patiently waiting to be found again. Waiting for me to have the courage to face what I had started. I had seen several posts about Suicide on Facebook. And something struck a chord in my heart. I knew it was time to finish the song and share it.
This time, as I sat at the piano and started playing, there was more that needed to be said. Where holes had once been, now grew seeds of love. And the song fell into place. It was ready.
In August of 2019, I felt a need to share Laura's song, in order to bring mental health and suicide awareness to others. I reached out on several Facebook groups and asked for help, to please send me pictures of loved ones anyone had lost to suicide. And over the next week or so, I had around 50 images, along with names, dates, stories, and tears.
Some of them I knew. Most of them I did not.
It hurt. It was intense. I sat there creating this video, thinking of Laura, and seeing all of these images of precious loved ones who had also died by suicide. And my heart just cried for them. I connected with those who had shared the images. I felt their pain and their loss. And the love they felt. So much pain. So much hurt.
The project was finished on September 10, 2019, and I released it onto Facebook. I realized in that moment that it was not only Suicide Awareness Month, it was Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day.
I leave you with the video and the song. A song that took more than 10 years to finally be finished and released. A song that I hope with all my heart will touch those who need it.
Dedicated to those we have lost to suicide. Dedicated to the families and friends who hold onto the empty pain for years to follow. Never being able to fill that void in their hearts. And dedicated to all those who suffer in silence. Please know, that you are loved. And you are not alone.