My daughter, who lost her battle with mental illness, is still the bravest person I know
I lost my darling daughter Natalie to mental illness last month. She killed herself a few weeks short of her 29th birthday by stepping in front of a train in Baltimore.
Natalie and I wrote a book together when she was 16: “Promise You Won’t Freak Out: A Teenager Tells Her Mother the Truth About Boys, Booze, Body Piercing, and Other Touchy Topics (and Mom Responds).” The idea of a teenager telling the truth about her secrets was such a startling concept that we were feature-page headliners in the Baltimore Sun and about two dozen other newspapers, went on TV coast to coast, including on one of the morning shows, and got paid to give speeches. “Oprah” called.
In the book, we used a device to signal whenever a wild turn was about to take place: And then . . . . In the introduction, I defined an And then . . . moment as “one of those critical junctures when my cheerful sense that all was right in the world collided with inescapable proof that it wasn’t.”
The book was published to great reviews the week before Natalie finished high school. Amazon named it the best parenting book of 2004. It was nominated for a national prize. It was translated into Lithuanian and Chinese.
And then . . . .