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Lifeline: A Teenager Remembers Her Uncle

Deja'
Basim Blunt
/
WYSO
Deja'

This week on Dayton Youth Radio we have a story from The David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center about a teenager dealing with life after a tragedy occurs. A note to listeners, this story does discuss suicide. 

My name is Deja', I'm 17 years. I'm the oldest of five kids: Ethan, Viviana. Juan Diego and Tony. I also have two dogs who are both rescues, a big dog named Roger and a smaller dog named Lily.

I enjoy drawing and reading and occasionally playing a game of soccer with my siblings. My love for soccer started in kindergarten. My best game ever in soccer was when we were winning 20 to 0, and our coach had to tell us to stop scoring so the other team wouldn't be scoreless.

My mom's brother taught me everything I know about soccer from the basic skills to special tricks to show off in the game. After my uncle graduated from Ohio State, he moved in with us when I was 14. I was extremely happy when I found out my uncle was moving back. Getting to see him everyday would be amazing. Another thing I was looking forward to was different meals every night from him. John would cook anything and everything, especially his signature homemade bread, pizza and lettuce wraps.

I loved when he asked for a taste tester. He'd always yell, "kids who wanted to try something?" And whoever showed up first got the most. He would also come into the basement at random times when my siblings and I were playing around with the soccer ball, and he'd verse himself against all five of us and we'd laugh giggle.

On a Friday night, my siblings and I were chilling in the kitchen, and I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with my uncle. But certain things seemed off. He was slurring his words and stumbling over a bit. The night was particularly quiet. Not hearing the usual footsteps was unsettling.

I woke up the next day and got ready for soccer practice as I usually would on Saturday mornings. I was excited for practice this day but I also felt uneasy. Something wasn't right. After practice I got pizza like I always do. I got home and something still felt wrong, but I kept ignoring it and walked into the kitchen. Usually my uncle would come out of his room to meet us after practice, but that day he didn't. I just thought he was sleeping.

A few hours later, my grandma came home looking for my uncle. She knocked on his door, and the two dogs we have started barking in his room. He didn't answer the door. So my grandma walked in and at that moment, our lives changed forever.

My sister came running to me and told me my uncle had died. I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked I didn't cry. I just saw his door frame and stared at his body. Looking around his room I saw bottles and pills everywhere. It was an overdose which he had tried doing twice before and he finally succeeded the third time. It was suicide, something I never thought one of my family members was capable of doing.

John, I just want you to know that I look at life differently because you. I've learned to appreciate the little things more. My love for soccer continues on because of you. I've grown into the young woman you've always wanted and dreamed of me being. I love and miss you.

John's death happened two years ago when I was 16. My uncle passing away made me realize I should appreciate life more and tell people I love them more because life is too short and it could end any minute. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It's 1-800-273-8255. 
Additional resources:

https://www.sprc.org/populations/blacks-african-americans
https://www.mhanational.org/

Deja' is a senior at Ponitz CTC High School. Special Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructors Joanne Viskup and Jeffrey Crowell. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.