In many ways I don’t want to share this painful story, but only in context does it make sense why Grace McComas, a child who was joyful from birth, felt compelled to take her own life. As she grew, she was vivacious, kind and loving- not one you’d ever think you’d ever lose to suicide. Yet it is only by telling her story that we can as a community, and as a nation recognize the changes that must be made to save others from the same fate.

I’d suggest you open your mind and imagine yourself in each situation, in each role. Think of how you would have responded, and then challenge yourself to see if you would have added to the harm or healed it. Not one of the players has ever been publicly called to account. Who should be? Why didn’t it happen?
For 2 long years, it has made my head spin. As we were living it, I couldn’t believe it was happening. Our lives had been generally blessed and easy before this time. The word ‘charmed’ comes to mind. Then, on one date, and then continuing one step after the other, came the perfect storm of factors colliding in a negative way. The word ‘evil’, which I’d previously eschewed as real, comes to mind. No one acted or responded in the honorable way that I thought they would. So much went wrong, that after her loss I couldn’t figure out what to focus on first. Advocating for awareness of the dangers of bullying in a digital age became the most urgent, so that we could make changes that would protect future children. But there is more to do.
Grace should be remembered for the life she led, not the way she died. She was just naturally very happy from birth. Laughing, bright and kind, she had a light about her which lifted the spirits of those around her. She had the most incredible sense of humor, and was deeply compassionate. She lived with strength, integrity and carefree innocence until reaching her freshman year of high school. She was just 13 that August 2010 as the school year began. She was not only chronologically younger than most of her classmates, but less mature than her sisters were at the same age. She was like a goofy young puppy or kitten. Friendly to everyone, happy and innocent.
The neighbors in our community were like a supportive extended family, sharing joys, burdens and the minutiae of everyday life. We were especially close to several families, connected by ties of similar age children, and shared activities, including sports, music, 4-H, scouts, school, faith and church.
Each of our four daughters were lucky enough to have good friends of the same age in the neighborhood. In Grace and younger sister Gloria’s case, one living in homes on either side of us. Unluckily for Grace however, the person who became her bully is her good friend’s troubled older brother….so her tormentor lives just next door.
In retrospect, how we handled things, including our trepidation in telling this story, was impacted by our love and trust in these families. What had been our blessing had  become our curse.  I don’t want to hurt either family, especially not their other children who are largely innocent. They are all good people at heart… (at least I thought so, I am not sure what I think now- I wrote this some time ago. Both families hurt Grace and neither were ever able to admit that or apologize in any way to her or to us… to this day, which makes healing/closure very, very difficult). The young man’s father was our church parish council president, the mother the dedicated and loving leader of Grace’s Girl Scout Troop, and like another mother to our Grace. The other family were like actual relatives to us we loved them so much. All of which made everything that happened, all the more toxic for her.

Grace 12mos.jpg                                                          Grace McComas was born happy

Grace McComas was born happy.

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