Ronda, age 29, died Tuesday, February 26, 2002.  She died as a result of a disorder called Schizophrenia, and a gunshot wound to the head. I always felt a connection with Ronda in the time we knew each other, which was during the years 1999 and 2000 while I dated her brother-in-law. While I have always been very close with the word "suicide" I had never known anyone who had accomplished it before, and it has affected my life forever.


   Ronda and Gina, 2000
You will always be in my heart



One of the letters I wrote after Ronda's death.


To Ronda’s family: 

As someone who has battled mental illness for many years, Ronda’s death has impacted me more than anyone will know. I only wish I would have stayed in touch with her. I cherish the good memories and the conversations we had. It seems that she was as good at keeping her inner desperation a secret as I always was. I am deeply saddened that she succumbed to this terrible illness and I pray she has found peace. I carry with me a deep remorse that our conversations were never much more than superficial. When I met all of you, I was asked kindly to keep my diagnoses and medication needs to myself so as not to upset anyone; I now have regrets because in my mind now, it may have made a difference. Lots of “if-only” ideas have crossed my mind, as I’m sure you have been through as well.  

I hope you will someday find peace again. Ronda was a wonderful person and this is definitely a tragedy. Of all the terrible people in this world, it seems so unfair to lose someone so special. Words cannot express my feelings the past couple days. How close I have been to being in her shoes, understanding the pain, hopelessness, fear, and desperation and not knowing any other way to make it stop. And also feeling for those of you left behind to grieve and continue to live. I hope you don’t mind if I quote some ideas from a book I have, my only desire is to be helpful.

Please keep in mind that dear Ronda did not do anything "to us," but that she had obviously lived a long time--not for herself--but because people needed her. Instead of asking how someone we love could have done this to us, we should wonder at how much pain she had to be in to have overcome the obstacles that are naturally given to us to keep from ending life. We should wonder at how she withstood that pain and misery so well that we didn't know it even existed. Or if we did, we should wonder that it wasn't more obvious.

Most importantly, we should understand that she endured all that pain for the people she loved. Children, parents, lovers, friends who she knew would be hurt by her self-inflicted death, and she suffered life as long as she could stand it. We should understand that Ronda must have felt no personal reason to live; that she lived as long as she did for the benefit of others. Living, solely for the comfort and needs of others has a boundary, a maximum useful limit. One can do it for a long while, if they are strong, but one can't do it forever.

To live a long, happy life a person needs a reason to do so, a personal reason. A person needs to have a joy of life that comes from what she receives from that life, not what she provides to others. No, that is not selfish. When someone thanks us for an act of kindness, we often say, "It was my pleasure." It was, for most of us. We do our acts of kindness for the good feeling it gives us. We all have an account balance of the value of our lives. We stack up the good things in our lives against the bad. For many, the good completely overwhelms the bad. Those people would no more consider their lives a waste than they would consider a small credit card debt evidence of financial bankruptcy. But some of us don't feel the rewards as strongly as we feel the punishments. We don't see life's beauty as clearly as we see the disorder. The comfort we receive doesn't cancel the pain. Suicide is the only relief from that kind of life. This I say from personal experience.

Dear little Randy, Scott, Jason, Larry, Dianne, Jon, Jake, Chantell, Tyler, and Ronda's family and friends as well, please accept my condolences. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Ronda, may you find peace -

With loving thoughts,