Surviving the Impossible and Finding Courage
A late night knock at the door in March 2013 changed Tammy Franklin's life forever.
"No one comes to our house at eleven o'clock at night, so I thought someone had the wrong house," Franklin said.
When she opened the door, two Nueces County Sheriff's Deputies were standing on the porch and asked her name and if she had a son name Sean. "I thought my son, Sean, had been in a car wreck, since he traveled for his job. And then they asked me if they could come in," Franklin said.
The deputies wanted to know if her son owned a gun, which was followed by the words no mother wants to hear. "We believe your son took his own life," Franklin remembered the deputies telling her.
"I couldn't believe it. It was just surreal," Franklin said.
Earlier this year, Franklin a management assistant for the City Secretary's Office, organized an Out of the Darkness Walk in Corpus Christi for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Franklin and her two daughters have been involved with the organization since November 2014 and participated in the annual walk out of San Antonio. While preparing for the local event, Franklin met others who had lost family members, friends or relatives to suicide, and they put together their own group called Survivor's Hope.
"We were complete strangers who got together, now we're like family, sisters. We have all cried together, shared our stories and it's really good to be with people you can relate to. Our main reason for doing the walk is to raise money for suicide prevention, so no other family has to go through this tragedy," Franklin said.
Sean Lee Riley was 24, a recent Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Business Administration graduate, who was working at Halliburton Oil & Gas. Franklin said Sean was upset over a relationship, but showed no signs of depression, and only recently lost some weight. Franklin and her daughters were close to Sean, and while he no longer lived at home, they talked or texted every day. His unexpected death was devastating.
"I just wish my son would have reached out to us. I was never mad that he did this. I was very sad and upset, but eventually, I had to accept what happened and I had to be strong, because I have two other children," Franklin said. There is not a day that goes by that Franklin does not think about Sean. But now she has taken on a new role as a survivor, whose steadfast courage comforts others.