Caitlyn Nell Haynes
9.9.97 – 3.24.15
Shared by Maya Haynes, Cait’s mom
There has always been bullying and there will always be bullying. It is our faulty human nature, often times poor training and desire to fit in that lets us sink into the trap of hierarchy. I watched this unfold when in 7th grade Cait moved from a small private school where poor behavior was noticed and corrected to the public school system.
She had many wonderful teachers in the public school including the shop teacher who would let her eat lunch in his classroom when the “mean girls” made it impossible for her to sit and eat in peace in the cafeteria. It turns out that the cafeteria is a common place that bullying rears its head. In the case of Caits bullying it began almost immediately and by the middle of her 7th grade year she was allowed to go to class late to avoid the halls and leave school late to run to my car (usually in tears) to avoid contact. We ended up pulling her from school just a few months before the school year was over.
The bullying took shape in all the normal forms, exclusion, name calling (slut, lesbo, Caits pregnant, Cait has herpies, Cait has cancer), on line gossip and even physical intimidation. We and many students reported to no avail. After a few years and no break from the bullying Cait returned to public school because she had goals and dreams. Every kid has goals and dreams and they need supports to find them and pursue them. Bullying continued and Caits spirit was crushed time and time again. We spent 4 years daily building her up and pushing her forward when she wanted to give up. One of the most painful things for me next to being physically without my daughter, is to remember how much pain she was in.
She would call me from school crying with her voice shaking after cruel words spoken or the time that she couldn’t get her locker open because all semester someone, or a group of students had put chewed gum on her combination lock to her locker. She would take a tissue with her every morning without telling me why. Eventually after a month of removing the gum every day there was too much build up and the lock would no longer turn. She just began to sob and a teacher came to her assistance. It was years of instances like that that caused Cait to give up on this world and I honestly cannot blame her.
After her death so many kiddos came forward and told us that they saw it happening to her but did not know what to do. The truth is that there wasn’t a great solution for them and so…..Peerkindness was born. We need to give teachers, paras, administrators, children and anyone that works worth children the tools to cause effective change in school culture. We need to raise the bar and expect the best from and for each other. We don’t get a redo. I may have lost my daughter and believe me when I tell you I wish it were different but the reality is that we are changing the world without her here in it.
We have to rise up and help one another be the best possible people that we can. We need to rely on each other and support each other. We as adults need to set examples of behavior no matter how uncomfortable it might be to change.
Cait was a gentle soul that loved and accepted every person she met. My hope as we near year 6 without her here with us is that we can effect real change and create supports for kids to be the best possible people they can be.
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