Chanté’s GrowThru Story
The Onset of Tragedy
Around 2005, my Husband’s mental health began deteriorating. His violent, suicidal & homicidal behavior progressively worsened with each passing year. At times, walking through the hallways of my own home felt as hostile as a mythical war zone. I often had the sensation of being pierced by thousands of razor sharp, rigidly cold, ice crystals. There were days spent trying to protect. There were nights, void of sleep, spent trying to stay alive; as I was told that I would be killed when I fell asleep, to spare me from any further pain.
All four of us, two parents and two children, were becoming disheartened, confused and starting to make unwise choices, further eroding the stability of our family. I knew we were in deep trouble. I urgently sought out help. I made appointments for family counseling. I called hospitals and health practitioners for advice and consultations. I tearfully shared our story with numerous local ministers, pleading for their help. I wrote the D.A.’s office explaining our predicament and asking for aid to revive our family. Unfortunately, we had done so well at keeping up appearances, that people found it difficult to believe we were in any real peril. You see, there was actually much love flowing through our family, mingling with guilt, fear and despair. I guess onlookers, mostly saw what appeared to be a family thriving, through adversity.
My dear husband, who was enthralled with the magnificence of trees, moved by the sound of a violin concerto, captivated by the power of the ocean and brought to tears by eloquent speech, continued to push away all assistance. The fear, he unwittingly allowed to grow within his heart eventually took over all reason, trapping his tender spirit in darkness. After multiple failed attempts to end his life, he laid down on the train tracks, and never came back home, ever again. He called me on his cell phone while doing it so that I could hear him die, or perhaps because he wanted to die with me instead of all alone.
Rise of the Phoenix
Needless to say, the remainder of our family was left emotionally devastated, in debt and reeling from the trauma.
Up until that time, I felt myself a sculptor, believing as did Michelangelo, carve only to set free the beauty already present within the stone. I was entrusted with the freeing of two human souls. In my estimation there could be no higher occupation. I chose to educate my two boys at home, while helping my husband with the family business and volunteering in the community with my children. Losing my mate of 20 years, presented me with the formidable challenge of now providing financially for my family. I worked five jobs simultaneously, with little to no sleep, to keep us afloat.
After a grim, grieving period, my eldest son, Tyler Jordan, shook off the heavy ropes of despair. To my surprise, one evening, after returning from a long day of work, I was presented with a brand new set of pots and pans! In a deep, tender voice Tyler asked me if we could start cooking again. “I want to be healthy again. I want us to heal, Mom.”
Taking up the symbol of the mighty Phoenix, Tyler gradually collected himself. Employing prayer, meditation, the pursuit of knowledge, mind body integration techniques, such as Tai chi and the power of giving of one’s self, his wings found their span and he rose up out of the ashes.
During this time my younger son, Taze, fell into a sweeping spiral of sadness, drug abuse and depression. He stopped attending school and was hospitalized twice for attempting to get rid of himself. In the latter attempt, he was pulled off the train tracks just before the 1 AM train sped through, by a determined officer who refused to give up in finding him, even after a three hour, unfruitful search was called to a stop. Benjamin Taze was reenacting what his father had done the year before.
My heart was in constant agony, my lips in continuous prayer and my hands kept in toil, still believing in our family’s value and seeing success as reality.
In the Autumn of 2012 things were starting to look up for us. Our event decor business was really taking off! We were so proud of our combined accomplishments! Then in October, while driving on the interstate, Tyler and I were in a terrible, roll over, car accident. I escaped with shoulder, neck and head injuries, but my dear son, Tyler Jordan, died in my arms that day, to the sound of my prayer for strength and praises for his triumph in life. As you can imagine, it was another devastating blow. The pain was so intense. It sought to strangle my own will to live. Everything reminded me of my precious boy. Tears were always only seconds away, on any given occasion. I was not left to bear the weight alone, however. I am so very grateful that I found the courage to ask and was granted help. I was lead to a wonderful trauma therapist, spiritual counselors and genuine friends.
The Climb to Zenith
Somehow, in the wake of that tragedy, a miracle began to unfold. Benjamin Taze, my gallant rock climber, spent the night high up above the city, one eve. In tears, he poured out his heart, begging for help and guidance. In the wee hours of mourn, he climbed down, came to my bedside and placed a small, crystal stone in my hand. He spoke through his tears, as he clasped my hands around this little rock; explaining his adventure and vowing to turn his life around to become the man he knew he was meant to be.
Shortly thereafter he entered a program called “Gateway to College”, where a student could finish high school while earning college credits. He was so thrilled and moved by this opportunity, truly believing that it was an answer from above to his prayer; that he cleaned up his life, his room, his diet and the kitchen! He made many difficult sacrifices, and in return, was blessed with much support and multiple loving facilitators to get back up the muddy hill and onto a good life path.
Benjamin Taze graduated high school with a giant smile and a 4.0! He went right into college classes, not skipping a beat, maintaining all A’s and earning academic scholarships along the way. Now he was in hot pursuit of his goal to become a scientist, with a special interest in medical toxicology, the science of making medicine from the poisonous venom of animals.
Benjamin had made such dramatic progress in overcoming his obstacles and in turning his life around, that he attracted positive attention from both his peers and facilitators. He became a candidate to speak at the “Clinton Global Initiative Meeting”. Taze was invited to share his story and ideas on “Reconnecting Youth” in America. What an Honor! All three of the Clintons were there! It was later written, “Benjamin captivated a group of world leaders. Following his speech, a long line of people formed to meet him.”
My heart was now so full of happiness and gratitude, because as the ancient verse states, “This my son was dead and came to life again; he was lost and was found… Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger!” (Luke 15: 11-24) I placed a beautiful, custom designed ring with set Tasmanian opals and the word “STRENGTH” engraved in bold script right through the metal, on his finger, in front of all, at his graduation celebration, as that passage was read aloud.
Overture to GrowThru
Since then, Benjamin Taze enjoyed the meaningful work of tutoring and mentoring in The Gateway program, reaching out to ‘at risk youth’, as he had once been himself. He became a college biology instructor, kept membership with an international honor society and worked with Enchante Celebrations on many events and cultural festivals, all while keeping up a 3.9 grade average!
On May 11, 2017, I was invited up onto a large stage and handed an embossed degree. It was not mine. It read:
“Benjamin Taze Turan
Associate Degree of Science
Magna Cum Laude”
My brave, beautiful son fell asleep in God’s arms just days before he was to accept it. Perhaps it shall remain a painful mystery; but he had prepared for his classes, with papers stacked neatly on his desk, packed his lunch, filled his water bottle and gone to bed. No explanation was provided, even by the coroner’s office, as to why he did not wake up the next day.
The Benjamin Taze Turan Memorial Scholarship fund was created, as FRC College wrote: “to keep Taze’s giving and hard-working spirit alive for years to come.” Amid the eligibility list are these qualifications: “Overcome obstacles by remaining persistent in the face of adversity… Contribute to their communities outside of school… Always stay positive and will water the plants.” I burst into tears when the school board informed me of their loving intentions, overtook by a powerful sense of purpose, that wrapped around me as a comforting blanket.
In our experience, along with many joys, we have been confronted with vast, seemingly insurmountable challenges. Through them all, we have found this to be true:
“God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.” The Spirit always makes a way for us, providing just who and what we need to grow through any obstacle we find in our path.
I have it on good authority that I am not alone! We are all on our respective journeys, swimming through our bliss and trudging through our tragedies. Our paths wind and turn, overlapping the stories of our fellows.
I invite you to “Grow Through” with us!