On June 30th, 2016, I saw an order come through my site from a long time friend and classmate. I hadn't spoke to him in a few months, so I sent him a quick message "thanking him for his order" and letting him know "how awesome it was to see his order come through." We had a short conversation, but one thing that stands out is that he was enthusiastic about supporting my business and even more excited to get his new hat.
Over the years Dustin regularly ordered items for his two sweet girls, Haidynn and Londynn. Both daughters modeled for H&P and Dustin would often send me a pic of something he wanted us to make for either him and/or his girls.
Dustin, with daughters - Haidynn & Londynn. Photo Credit Angela Deanne Photography
I had no clue that, that short conversation on June 30th would be that last I would ever have with him. Less than a week later, Dustin took his life.
One thing I know is when tragedy comes into our lives there is not much we can do about it. Yes, we can fight it, but in the end, for healing to begin, the pain must be felt, we must be present to the raw emotions, and we must choose to begin again, 'one day at a time' - honoring our own struggle and the struggles of all others, day after day.
Everything within me wished there as something I could do to undo what was done but at the at the same time living in something I cannot control will only cause me more pain. What I do know is Dustin left behind a huge incredible family. Having grown up in a small town, I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing much his family.... I cant say "all of his family" because I swear that family is endless.
Just days after Dustin's death, I was able to meet with his sister, Tamar. The two of them were incredibly close. She shared how Dustin stopped by her house almost daily after work. She also shared about the incredible love Dustin gave to her 3 daughters and his own. I sat and listened to Tamar for some time. Tamar made it clear to me that she was deeply hurting and deeply wanting others to know, what Dustin did was not "the right way to solve his pain."
Just months prior, her husband, lost his little brother (Justin) unexpectedly, another classmate of mine, and Dustin's best friend. As I sat there with Tamar I only wondered "how do they do this...again..."
I wanted to comfort Tamar but I knew there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say, nothing would take her pain away. Instead I decided to just do what I knew how to do. Tamar handed a bag of Dustin's clothes over to me, including many of his favorite shirts -- some he wore just to make his daughters smile. Harts & Pearls decided we would take these left behind clothes and make them into wearable memories for the family to cherish, for years to come.
Tamar gave me a list of women and children in Dustin's family who would love to have a headband or scarf wrapped around them in his memory.
Dustin, his Mom - Angie, sister - Tamar, and Dad -Todd
If you have found yourself at your end or at a hopeless spot there is a way out and there is help. The Suicide Prevention Hotline has several tools and resources and was created for you.
Dustin's daughters loved Ninja Turtles, so he had a few shirts he wore to put a smile on their faces.
Tamar (Dustin's Sister) & Craig's daughters: Ashlyn, Emmersyn & Avery