When trials feel never-ending, we can hope for light to come.
Years ago during a family vacation at a theme park, I found myself on what I considered to be the scariest ride ever: the Indiana Jones Adventure. It was just 9-year-old me and my 12-year-old brother, Caleb, since my parents had deemed us old enough to ride by ourselves.
As we strapped in and the ride chugged forward, I felt the first inklings of dread. But I figured with my big brother by my side, I was protected.
That is, until we shuddered to a stop in the middle of a shadowy tunnel.
The ride had broken down.
All around us it was ominously dark, with robotic zombie hands reaching down from the ceiling and chilling sound effects coming from hidden speakers. It was any kid’s worst nightmare.
“We need to get off,” I said, fumbling with my seatbelt.
But Caleb put his arm around me. “Don’t be scared,” he said. “It’s just a little bit of dark.”
He started making jokes, pointing out how fake the zombies looked and the predictability of the ride. His words and laughter soothed my fears and kept me seated as we waited for the remainder of the ride.
After a few minutes our coaster car lurched forward, and our delighted hollering echoed through the tunnel, following us up inclines and down drops to the finish.
Life is a roller coaster, they say. It has ups and downs, anticipation and surprises, buildups and disappointments. And sometimes, life can come to a stop, and we start to wonder if we shouldn’t just get off.
On Dec. 9, 2012, my brother Caleb died by suicide. I was 19, and my whole world came to a gear-grinding stop. Ahead of me stretched horrendous grief, no end in sight. Things could never be made right again.
But my brother’s own words from years earlier came to my mind: “It’s just a little bit of dark.”
Believing that there would be an end to the intense sadness we felt, my family pulled together and took small steps toward recovering from our loss. We shared memories of Caleb, received blessings of comfort, cried together, laughed together, and let ourselves receive help from those around us. Deep as our darkness was, my brother’s words reminded us that it wouldn’t last forever. Life would get moving again. Light would come.
It was a lesson I thought I would never forget. But some lessons have to be repeated, and recently my own life seemed to break down yet again. Stuck in a tunnel of darkness that seemed never-ending, I was tempted to quit the ride halfway through. I started planning my own suicide.
In the depths of my hopelessness, I remembered Caleb, how he put his arm around me and helped me see the darkness for what it really was—a momentary halt, something that would not last forever.
And I thought about how much Caleb meant to me, how much I wished he would have shared his struggles with me instead of believing that there was only one way out.
I found the courage to tell my family what was going on. They rallied around me, showing nothing but love and support and guiding me to the professional counseling I needed. They helped me see the stories I had told myself about being a burden or an inconvenience for what they were: lies. Thanks to them and to my Savior, I’m still riding, with renewed hope and the knowledge that my life matters.
The most important thing I’ve learned about life’s roller coaster is that no one rides alone. There are other passengers who want to help us ride to the end. When we enter what seems to be a never-ending tunnel, our friends and family are there to help us sit tight and remember that it’s just a little bit of dark.
And if loved ones get off early, it’s not really the end for them either. Though it leaves a hole in our hearts, it’s only temporary.
They will be waiting for us at the ride’s end.
And what a reunion that will be.
Kiri Case is a writer, actor, and self-proclaimed puzzle expert from South Jordan, Utah.
Share a Family Story: In Letters from Home BYU Magazine publishes essays by alumni about family-life experiences—as parents, spouses, grandparents, children. Essays should be 700 words and written in first-person voice. BYU Magazine will pay $350 for essays published in Letters from Home. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.