Memorial t-shirts worn by her classmates
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.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
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 . . ..
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