When time stood still

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 7, 2016


If it is possible for time to stand still, time stood still for Judy Morgan on January 1, 1991.

She’s not sure of the time, not exactly. Around 9 a.m. maybe. There was no reason for her to pay attention to the time. A New Year had dawned with all its promise. Life was good.

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Then, the world crashed around her. The word came. Her son, Chris, had taken his life.

Chris was a handsome17-year-old senior at Wewahitchka High School in Florida. He was a model student – academically and as a member of the football team. He had many friends. He was happy. He loved  life – the life he took.

Chris Morgan had never exhibited any of the warming signs of suicide – no depression, no loss of interest, no trouble sleeping or eating.

“There was nothing about Chris that even hinted that he was depressed or had any thoughts of suicide,” Judy said. “Even Chris’ closest friends, Matt and Tony, said he had never indicted in any way that anything was wrong, that anything was troubling him.”

Chris was staying with his dad, Tommy Morgan, at the time. When his dad realized Chris was not home that morning, his thoughts were that he had gotten up early to go hunting or had stayed over with a friend. But, Chris’ friends had not seen him, so his dad went looking for him.

“Tommy found Chris’ truck pulled off the road not far from the house,” Judy said. “Chris was in the truck. He had shot himself in the neck. He left a note saying how much he loved me and his dad and his brother Michael. He said he loved his girl friend, Rhonda, and to tell her that this was not her fault.”

Chris Morgan, a top-notch young man who had never given his parents any trouble or any reason to worry, was dead, by his own hand and no one could understand why.

“The whole town of Wewahitchka was in shock,” Judy said. “The whole town almost shut down. The principal of the high school said Chris’ suicide was the worse thing that he had ever experienced. We were left without any reason why. Whatever was bothering Chris went away that night.”

Judy said there could be nothing in life as devastating as the loss of a child.

“And, when your child takes his own life and you’ll never know why … there are no words to express what you feel,” she said.

Knowing why Chris took his life would not bring him back. It would only sift a little sand in the deep hole that his death had left in his family’s life.

In her sadness and in her grief, Judy realized that she could either let Chris’ suicide destroy her or accept what had happened and honor Chris’ life.

“I had another wonderful son,” she said. “I had to be there for Michael and let him know how much I love him. I could not let Chris’ death destroy me and hurt those around me that I loved so much. Chris’s death hurt his dad and Michael. Michael loved and admired Chris. I had to be strong for him.” Judy Morgan learned to accept the caring of others and let their love sift sand into the hole Chris’ death had left in her life.

“I’ll never stop loving Chris and remembering what a wonderful young man he was,” she said. “And, I do sometimes let myself wonder why. I try not to do that because I’ll never know.”

Judy works in the football office at Troy University. She has the opportunity to be mom to many young men who need and appreciate a mom away from home.

“My job has been a part of the healing process,” Judy said. “These young men will give me hugs and they call me Mama or Mama Judy and it does my heart good. They have been so supportive of me and are supporting me in the Out of the Darkness Walk on Sunday. I’ve been touched by how they seemed to really care.”

Some of the Troy University football players will walk in the Out of the Darkness Walk in support of Judy Morgan and in memory and honor of Chris. “That means so much to me and it will mean a lot to me to walk,” said. “I’ll walk in memory of Chris and to honor his life. And, I’ll walk in memory all of those who, for whatever reason, took their lives. I’ll walk in honor of their families.  And I’ll walk in hopes that others will never have to know what it’s like when someone they love decides that life is not worth living.”