Posthumous recognition means your life is over, that you're not around for whatever pomp and circumstance being moved your way.
That saying, "give me my flowers while I can still smell them,' represents a truism that resonates with most.
Paige Aiello, 22, a young woman who committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge between New York City and Bergen County, N.J., received a degree posthumously from The College of New Jersey on Thursday as death casts a shadow on what is a bright day for most.
My daughter earned a masters degree in special education in the same ceremony. Life feels surreal and awkward as my family celebrates a wonderful accomplishment by a young woman who continually impresses with a love and determination to make a difference in this world. It's hard to totally enjoy this day understanding the reality of this situation.
I feel that a 22-year-old woman with what appeared to be so much to live for, would find herself in such a desperate place.
If you replay her situation in your mind, it's difficult to arrive at the George Washington Bridge where Aiello's purse, cell phone and car keys were found in early April. Aiello captained the Lions' tennis team, succeeded in the classroom, had a pick of about nine law schools and enjoyed bonded friendships. Paige battled stress before she went missing, according to her father.
Aiello's passing should serve as an opening for a discussion about depression, stress and a list of other challenges that push us toward self-murder.
My first recollection of a suicide occurred in my teens when an 11-year-old friend took his life.
That incident never left me. Usually his passing stays underground but there are times when all those uneasy feelings find their way back to conscious thought.
I was probably in my thirties when a pair of brothers committed suicide within months of each other.
It's not survivor's guilt, but I had a chance to influence the condition of one young man. I never made the phone call, another one of those inactions I wish were not part of this life.
Aiello's death, or those of the near 40,000 people who commit suicide, will be in vain if we avoid this painful discussion. Suicide remains the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15-to-24. Recent statistics suggest a rise in suicides among middle-aged Americans.
Call the national crisis hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or (609) 896-2120 if you need assistance. Frequently, just having a person listen can make all the difference in the world.
Thursday offered bittersweet circumstances for hundreds of TCNJ graduates. To the friends and family of Paige Aiello, her tennis teammates, and TCNJ, you remain in many prayers.
No posthumous words here.
Leah, daughter, I love you. Congratulations.