THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A DIME
A dime represents something much bigger than 10 cents in Missy Gibson’s life. On the weekend of July 25th, 2010, the Gibson’s found a pile of dimes in the dirt outside of their beach house. The beach house was their getaway from Tillis’ – Missy’s husband – busy and stressful work schedule. It was their haven.
Missy and Tillis lived a dream life. They had wonderful kids, a beautiful home, strong Christian faith and all the love you could imagine.
The dimes came to represent the last weekend Missy and her family had with Tillis. Every time one of them does something new – whether it be paddle boarding, helping out a friend in need, or going to a new place – Missy and her kids always find dimes by chance. They take this as a sign of Tillis watching over them and letting them know he’s there.
They represent someone watching over her.
The weekend before Tillis’ death was like any other. The family met at the beach house; ready for a weekend of surfing and fun. Everything was normal. The only thing Missy saw that was out of the ordinary was that Tillis kept talking about what would happen if someone died or was hurt.
“It was strange. The Sunday before he left to go back to work, he met our daughter in the hallway to say goodbye. Something he usually didn’t do because we still live together during the week.”
On Monday, a call from one of her sons changed Missy’s life forever. That morning as she went to drop off her daughter at work, Missy called Tillis as usual, but he wasn’t answering. Then after dropping off her daughter, Missy received a call from her son.
“Momma, there’s forensic police surrounding our house.”
After hearing that, Missy recalls crying and screaming at the top of her lungs.
“I knew someone was dead but I didn’t know who.”
Soon, she would discover her husband had committed suicide. He laid out pictures of his family and children around him, placed his Bible to his chest, laid down, and raised the gun.
The aftermath of her husband’s death was hard. Because of her husband’s job, Missy never had to work or pay the bills. But now she was on her own. Not only was she tasked with the arrangements due to her husband’s death, but now she also had to learn how to take care of her household and the multiple rental properties she and her husband owned.
“I had never written a bill. I didn’t know anything about our accounts. My job was to take care of the house and the kids.”
But, when she looked at her husband’s accounts, they were empty. The reason for this would become apparent later.
“His funeral was one of the biggest in Gainesville. Had to be at least 600 to 700 people. Everyone loved him.”
About two months later, Missy experienced something she never had before. Feelings of exile from her family and friends took over.
“At the beginning, when it just happened, everyone wanted to help and talk and be there for me. But after about two months, people go back to the lives and forget about it.”
Going to church became hard without her husband next to her. Missy was used to a life of love and family surrounding her, so this came as a shock to her that she would have to grow from.
Because of Missy’s husbands job, Missy was used to being the family that donated to those in need, but after the death of her husband, she became one receiving donations from others.
“I didn’t know what to do or how to accept them. I suddenly was on the other end of what I usually donate to.”
Getting Back on Her Feet
Missy has a hard time getting close to new people. She’s is open to new relationships, but it still never changes the fact that her husband is gone.
“I’m afraid people are going to die,” says Missy.
“I’ve been told to get over it. That I’m used goods. Someone told me I was fat and that the stress was all over my face.”
Not everyone understands the hardships of losing a loved one to suicide and now Missy has someone she can confide in. They’re good friends. She knows she can trust him because he too, lost a spouse.
Though she’s been through extensive counseling, Missy is going back. The pain she has felt will stay with her forever. But, God and her children is what keeps her going. She has a strong and supporting group around her, so she knows that when she is down, she knows she has people who will keep her up.
Her whole family has been through extensive counseling, but her son is still battling depression. Missy says there isn’t a day when she doesn’t think about him, but she’s comforted knowing he is in heaven.
“He always wore two wedding rings. He’d say ‘One is for Missy here on Earth, and the other is for Missy in heaven.’” After he died, Missy only ever found one wedding ring.
After her husband’s suicide, several other men his age also took their lives.
“Six or seven men his age I know have also committed suicide,” says Missy.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Also, men are three and half times more often to die by suicide than women, making White males accounted for seven out of 10 suicides. The average age: around middle aged.
“Suicide wasn’t something really talked about when I was growing up,” says Missy, “We knew about it of course, having had a cousin that committed suicide. But we never learned about preventions or signs.”
During counseling, doctors have Missy practice coping by talking about her husband’s suicide and how it wasn’t her fault.
“Talking about what happened really helps me, so maybe talking about it will help other people too.”
It was only a month ago that Missy found out the most probable cause for her husband’s death. Tillis’ friend frequently blamed himself for his death, and at the time, that made no sense to Missy and her family. But, one doctor visit changed everything. It became apparent to the doctor that Tillis had been very stressed and lost a lot of weight suddenly. The doctor’s diagnosis? Tillis had most likely been involved in cocaine due to his stressful job, changing his and his family’s life forever. The only person that Missy could think of was Tillis’ friend who blamed himself for Tillis’ death.
“My son even thought that he might have been on cocaine,” Missy said.
According to Missy and Narconon.org, coming down from cocaine is one of the worst feelings that a human can experience.
“Depression is a common mental effect that may kick in when a person comes down from an intense high. Suicidal thoughts are therefore common when a person enters rehab and goes through withdrawal, requiring close supervision for the early days of withdrawal,” says Narconon.org.
So, even though there is no solid evidence that Tillis was doing cocaine, all the signs of weight loss, questioning death, and depression point towards the possibility of drugs. At least with this information, it’s no longer a guessing game for Missy as to why he did it.
There have been some positives from this experience for Missy. Now, she is very involved in the suicide prevention community, taking part of suicide prevention 5k’s and raising money for suicide prevention charities. Also, Missy has become very close with one of her dearest friends who is also a widower. She does everything she can to make a difference in the community around her, recently helping with victims of Hurricane Matthew, things are getting better.
She is surrounded by people in her life who are there for her no matter what.
She has everything she needs: God and her children.
And, she has those dimes.
Walking across Fifth Avenue recently in New York City, something causes Missy to look down. She notices a dime embedded in the pavement. It was her first time to New York, she was afraid and didn’t know what to expect. But seeing this dime was a reminder that no matter where she goes, she’s never truly alone.