We are struggling here in New Jersey. We are struggling with what to say to our own young men and women that went to bed last night without a dear friend.
Sean Culley was new at UK. As all of our young adults were missed, hugged and sent off to school after Christmas break, we all prayed for them.
Our row of little beach towns here creates bonds that are shared by summer sleepovers, days on the beach, flip flops and bikes on the lawn. It’s a small nirvana that involves “whose house is everyone going to now?”
Sean is and was a loyal, funny, hardworking polite young man. He would laugh at himself when he messed up in basketball. He would laugh all the time. He was an athlete. He was kind. He would always take the extra time to sit with my husband and me when he came to see our son. He was the goofy and sensitive one.
I feel compelled to write this to you to convey not only who Sean is and was but to remind us all that we all have a little bit of Sean in us.
A struggle that we are battling to win and try to do it alone. But we don’t have to do it alone.
Some of Sean’s friends are gathering tonight to eat, talk, pray and process. I was up all night trying to think of what to say to them as they enter our home.
All I can think of is this:
If you’re sad, feel sad. Don’t push it away. If you’re angry, be angry. Face it. But, then, process it. Look at it head on and say “OK. I feel this, but how can I work through it?”
When you’re at a red traffic light, you stop. Then eventually you move forward. The same is true with grief. Eventually finding resilience is the ultimate goal.
I want to say to you, to your readers, to the fellow students of Sean’s that no matter how bad the day is or the ongoing situation is... everyone fits into this life like a well-woven blanket. There’s a purpose and a gift you’re given; you just need to find it and keep your eye on that prize. It will come.
Because if you don’t, the blanket will lose a thread and unravel.
Sending love to the UK community. We will miss you Sean. We already do.
Deborah Marini of New Jersey is a Mental Health First Aid instructor and the owner of the Awareness Impact LLC (theawarenessimpact.com). Marini is the mother of a friend of Sean Culley's. She encouraged anyone who is struggling to reach out to her if they want or need help.