Shared by Maya Haynes, Cait’s mom
The first thing people noticed about my beautiful daughter was her magical smile and her kind spirit. Cait had a bubbly personality too. She loved animals, children, and the elderly. Cait enjoyed volunteering in our church children’s nursery because she loved being around “little ones”. We enjoyed hearing her “little” stories.
She kept busy working at a local sandwich shop, a pizza place, making jewelry and selling it at a local art gallery, and babysitting. She was smart, talented, kind, and respectful. She always encouraged the underdog. From the outside, Cait’s life seemed better than most, but behind her magical smile, there was another story; one filled with sadness.
She grew up in a small Western Colorado town. We started her educational journey in a Christian private school where she had a very close friend. By 6th grade, her close friend had moved away and Cait thought she would like to attend a public school,so we made the switch.
I was concerned by this, but Cait assured me it would be okay. When I said, “It might be hard to make friends there.” Her response was, “Mom, I am a nice person.”
Attending middle school was difficult. Cait was socially excluded and the subject of many painful rumors. She was called names. Food was thrown in her hair. It got so bad that I had to drop her off after the bell rang and pick her up before the last bell rang to avoid contact in the hallways. She also started eating lunch in a teacher’s classroom to avoid the cafeteria. Eventually, we removed her from the public-school system and started homeschooling. She was homeschooled 8th and 9th grade, but Cait wanted friends. She wanted to fit in somewhere.
On her 16th birthday, I suggested Cait invite four or five friends to watch a rugby game and then explore Gunnison and Crested Butte for the day. Cait had no friends. She invited some girls she wanted to be friends with, but no one responded. This was her normal. I encouraged her to call a friend from grade school. The three of us rented bikes, played in a creek, and had some lunch. Rumors spread quickly about Cait and why they thought she was in Gunnison. She was accused of some awful things, but the truth was, she spent the day with her grade school friend and me.
We enrolled Cait in high school her sophomore year. Her bubbly personality was hopeful things might be different this time, but they weren’t. Cait found chewed gum stuck inside the handle of her locker and stuck on her truck window. When she walked by others in the hallways, they mumbled cruel things, giggled and turned away. Cait was depressed, lonely and confused. After a powder puff football game, she was punched in the face by another student.
By the time she entered her junior year, Cait was emotionally worn down. Her bubbly personality was hopeful things might change. She seriously thought her junior year would be the best year, because the kids were all growing up. Cait said, “Mom, this year things will be different!” She sent me a text on the first day of her junior year . . .. “Nothing has changed.”
On that first day, a teacher asked each student to say his or her name so she could recall them. She went around the room trying to remember their names and when she got to Cait, there was a slight pause. In that moment, one of the mean girls said . . .. “Her name is Cait and she is a nobody! Can we just move on?” That crushed Cait!
Our Cait loved to wear scarves. She asked me (very seriously) one morning if her scarf was worn right. I assured her it was and then I told her how beautiful it looked. Cait burst into tears. She said having it worn right was very important because some girls at school had made fun of the way she wore them.
On March 24th, 2015, our bubbly, kind-hearted daughter killed herself inside our home. Cait will never wear a scarf again. She will never share her own “little one” stories. Cait will never play a sport or ride a horse again. She will never play with her brother or sister again. She is gone forever!
I can’t help but wonder what Cait might have done if she had friends who were positive when she joined middle school, encouraging when she wore scarves, empathetic when she struggled making friends, or respectful in the hallways, cafeteria and at school events. We will never know what might have been . . ..
Shared by Ashley, Cait's sister-
Cait made me a big sister. I was an only child until I was 7 years old, and I could not wait to finally have a sweet baby to hold, cuddle and play “mommy” to. Being 7 years older than Cait gave me a unique situation as her sister, I got to really watch her grow and vividly remember her first steps, first words, and a world of other firsts.
Watching Cait grow up was amazing, and I have so many treasured memories, but honestly, my some of my favorite times with Cait are when she was in high school and I was already grown up, moved out and married. Having adult conversations with Cait about her dreams for the future, boys, and all of life ups and downs was so special to me. Because I was so much older than her, it wasn’t until she was in high school that I felt we truly had ‘sister’ conversations. We would hang out, watch Say Yes to the Dress, giggle and even rescued a stray kitten together on summer afternoons. I have dozens of pictures and videos from these days, I am so glad Cait loved to capture the moment, because I will treasure those pictures and videos forever. One of my favorite videos is when we tried to build a “tree swing” out of willow tree branches and have Cait swing on it- the video is full of her sweet giggles, my uncontrollable laughter, and a moment in time that I will remember forever.
I remember helping Cait sell her handmade jewelry at local craft shows each year, we always joked that she was the talent and I was the talk of the operation. She was so incredibly gifted in jewelry making, but so humble. She never wanted to talk about herself- but I had no problem telling everyone how awesome she was! Spending long days on our feet behind a table should not have been so fun, but I looked forward to those shows every year, and made sure that I cleared my schedule for each one of those weekends, because it was something that I did not want to miss out on. I still have drawers full of my ‘payment’ for those weekends, I always asked for a piece of jewelry for helping- I am so thankful I did, because I have a large collection of her work.
When I found out I was pregnant, my mom and Cait were actually at the doctor’s office at the same time and seeing Cait’s face light up with joy when she heard that she was going to be an Auntie will forever be in my mind. Even before I started showing, she would come up and whisper to my belly, telling the baby how much she loved them already. When Willow Bea was born, watching my little sister hold my baby, was surreal. I still thought that Cait should be a baby, but I was so excited for Willow Bea to have such a cool auntie! One who knew all her secrets, could giggle about boys with her, and could tell her that other girls are mean, but life will get better.
Willow Bea won’t have the opportunity to have Cait share those things with her, because life didn’t get better for Cait, and she chose to end her life on March 24th, 2015, when Willow Bea was just 3 weeks old. I am sad that my daughter and countless other people missed out on the opportunity to know my amazing sister, but I have made a promise to myself, my daughter and my family that I will continue to share the amazing memories that Cait and I had together- now and for the rest of my life.
I love you forever baby sister, I miss you every day. -Ashy
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
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