I have a heavy story to tell, but before I begin I have to ask you all to bear with me as I am not the most articulate human in the world.

In 2015 I got a job at Starbucks. It was the best job I ever had. The work was crap and the people crappier, but we had a great team and an amazing store manager, Laura B. About 6 months into working for the company our manager got a job offer with a retail chain and took the job. I was nervous about getting a new manager because Laura created a safe space for me and as a transgender person I needed a safe space. When I discovered a cisgender straight white man got the job I was undoubtedly worried that he wouldn’t understand me and treat me differently. Cody S was your typical southern boy, born and raised in the same small town. Raised on the bible and football. He knew how to have a good time, he was the life of every party and lit up every room he walked into. I grew to tolerate him but still wasn’t sold on the idea of him being our manager.

As time went on we developed a strange love/hate relationship. I was a bull-headed punk with authority issues. No one was going to tell me anything I didn’t already know, especially this country boy that can’t even make a latte! Despite my bad attitude, Cody saw something in me and he made a point to dish out tough love when he had to. He pulled me to the back, more times than I care to admit, coaching me on my attitude toward customers or whatever my problem was that week. He never gave up on me, he never spoke ill of me, and he damn sure always had my back. I couldn’t fathom why he would waste so much time on me and not just fire me. I would have fired me. He didn’t stop though, he wanted me to be the person he knew I was. I guess I never noticed that he was hurting too.

I should have noticed when I saw him in the back swinging a rubber mallet around with one hand and holding the phone to his ear with the other. I should have seen it when he started sneaking out the back door on lunch to go home and not return for the day. I should have noticed it when he posted a status update looking for recommendations on handguns. I should have seen the same hurt in him that I had in me, but I didn’t. I just got mad at him for leaving us high and dry in the middle of a rush. I got mad at him for being in the back all the time when he knew we were short-handed and drowning in orders. I got mad at him and I wished that he would just get fired or leave. I just wanted him gone because one day he didn’t seem to care anymore and all I cared about was how it was affecting me. He wasn’t giving me as much time, he was scatterbrained and forgetting that I had requested time off for a camping trip with my mom. I got mad at him and insisted that he figure it out because I had plans and did my part, but he forgot.

So I went camping.

My mom, brother, and I headed out to the boonies to primitive camp for a few nights. The first day we got a flat, but fixed it up the best we could and set up camp. Mom was uneasy the whole night and couldn’t sleep so we decided to call it off and head back the following morning. We were out of cell service for less than 24 hours and when it finally connected to service my phone was flooded with texts, voicemails, and facebook messages. All the texts were vague. “How are you? Are you okay?”, “Did you hear about Cody?”. I assumed he got fired, but then I got enough service that a call came through. It was Joey, our assistant store manager. He told me that Cody had passed away that night, but didn’t give specifics.

When I got home I learned that Cody had taken his own life.

His suicide was the most difficult loss I have endured second to losing my best friend in a car accident when I was 13. No one saw this coming, he was just so happy weeks ago. That’s what they always say though. Cody taught me that life is too precious to be anything less than exactly who I am. Whatever it is he saw in me, I can only hope I am making him proud now. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, his kindness and compassion toward me.

I hope that by sharing this story it can help someone who is thinking of taking their own life.

Submitted by Kade.

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