I am Arie Boggio’s mom. My daughter is no longer a beautiful presence on this earth, but I am still her mother—and her story still continues. I’d like to share some of that story with you here.
My world stopped in the early morning of March 3, 2010 with a phone call from Arie’s father saying, “Arie is gone.”
“What do you mean she’s gone? Where is she? Did she run away?”
There was crying on the other end of the line.
“No. She’s dead.”
Arie had taken her own life, and the days that followed this news were very cloudy—a blurry, painful haze. Her 16th birthday was just three months after her death, and I dreaded that day. The phone calls, the texts, the Facebook messages… they would not let me rest. But her friends were there to help me and hug me, and together we had a beautiful birthday balloon release for our Arie.
My daughter was little in size, but she was a big presence at her school. She was loved by all and was the kind of girl who would walk up to a random stranger and give them a bear hug “just because they looked like they needed it.” I have a million similar memories—some I already knew, some friends and family have shared with me. I smile today thinking of these stories, but I know on most days I would not have the strength if it were not for Arie’s friends helping me through.
At some point, Arie’s good friend Leah became involved in a movement called To Write Love on Her Arms. Leah and a few others began wearing TWLOHA shirts and posting pictures on Facebook of the word “Love” written on their arms, with Arie’s name or my own tagged in the photo. Leah was determined to bring awareness to Arie’s story and to reach out to those like her, in the hopes of helping them through their pain and preventing future suicides.
This year, Leah and other students from Putnam County High School raised the most amount of money for their bracket in TWLOHA’s high school program, The Storytellers. As a result, some of TWLOHA’s team would come visit our little country school. One day, I got a text from Leah that read, “Mama Carol, The Storytellers are coming to the school. Could you please come to be with us?”
Since Arie’s death, it has been such a heavy burden to take even a single step inside my daughter’s school—to see students walk through the halls she once wandered or to sit in the seats where she should now be sitting. But Arie’s friends have given me strength, and even though it was hard on my heart, I was so proud of her friends. My first thought upon reading Leah’s text was, “Oh, not another trip to the school.” But I decided to go, for Arie’s friends. This time, I would be there for them.
I entered the commons area at the high school and sat down as if I were the new kid at school, nervous and scared as always. Then I saw Leah; she was just glowing. She so believes in this movement, and she was eager for the students to hear about the cause. Halfway through The Storytellers’ songs and stories, I realized that, for the first time in well over two years, I was glad to be sitting right where I was. I felt such pride in how my daughter’s friends have continued to fight for what they believe in.
I walked in that day to see The Storytellers with a heavy heart, but when I walked out again, I was filled with hope. And I know I wasn’t the only one; even the school’s faculty is now listening when it comes to these issues. My family, Arie’s friends, and I will never be the same, but we have come together to raise awareness. Though we are a part of this because we have experienced a tragedy, we are here, and we are not alone. We will continue to share our stories, and in the process, share strength.
P.S. Learn more about The Storytellers, see what the Fall 2012 term is up to, and donate to their fundraising goal here.