Living On The Verge: Showing Up for Cayman’s Parents

Cara Bradley Human Potential, On The Verge, Parenting 36 Comments

caymanThis week I’ve been busy—too busy to write. Instead, of working on my book, On The Verge, I’ve been living on the verge.

Last Wednesday, March 4, Cayman Naib, 13, the son of two of my dearest friends, went missing. He walked out of his house on a foggy, wintry night in suburban Philadelphia after reading an email about the possibility of failing a class. After a gut wrenching few days of searching for Cayman, a delightfully precocious and witty middle-schooler, we learned that he took his own life just a mere few hundred yards from his home.

It’s been a life-changing week that will take time to process. The only thing I comprehend right now is that I am experiencing a profound intimacy with life and death. I feel raw to the bone. It is still unfolding and it will shift me forever.

The horrific unfolding of circumstances this past week has brought my life to a stand still and placed me in a small group supporting my dear friends. I arrived almost at the beginning, stayed close by as hundreds searched for their son, and stood by their side during a press conference. During the day, I sit in silence as they recall wonderful memories about Cayman short life. During every evening, we eat and drink wine (and more wine) with close friends and family.

What I’ve learned from the quiet, tender moments with my friends—while holding their hands as they waited for news of their son—while holding space for them as they start to grieve his death—is that living on the verge is not simply about showing up in this moment, blissed out, calm and clear, and all of that stuff.

Living on the verge is showing up AND being available for life as it is—no matter what is happening. 

Living on the verge is about getting out of your own way so that you can meet life head on—right here and right now. It is about being available with every cell of your being without an agenda and without drama.

I’m not sure I really understood why I was writing my book until last week when I showed up at the Naib’s doorstep on a snowy afternoon in the middle of every parent’s worst nightmare.

This week, instead of writing my book, life has been re-writing me. I have no idea how I will change. All I know is that showing up and being available to the rawness of life, right now, makes you feel more awake and alive than can ever be put into words.

I wish I could turn back the clock. I wish I could bring Cayman back. I promise to be there for my friends forever, and I will never forget that Cayman’s death is teaching me how to live.

Comments 36

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  2. Like so many of us, I don’t know the Naib’s or Cayman but feel for them like I would and realize that this horrible event could happen to any of us.

  3. Thsnks for sharing your thoughts. My thoughts completely echo yours after a recent loss of my young friend to cancer. Your friends are so blessed to have special people in their lives that care enough to drop everything and be there. I am certain they will treasure your friendship forever.

  4. I cry everyday for this family. I drove past the memorial on my way to pick up my 9th grader at Shipley, and struggled to get it together before seeing my son. This is so profoundly life altering and I did not even know them as we are new to Shipley. I have been wondering around in a fog all week. I cannot imagine what you and the family must be feeling. Hugs from a Shipley parent!

  5. Sad beyond words. May his family at least find some comfort in knowing so many have them in their thoughts and prayers. I cannot imagine their heartache. Tears.

  6. Although a complete stranger to the family, I have found myself preoccupied with thoughts of their loss and the grief the family must be experiencing. We all hope and pray to never bury a child before ourselves. My prayers will continue for this family.

    1. Sue, Thank you for reaching out. I cannot tell you how touched the family is by the nationwide support. It gives them hope that this tragedy has brought people from all walks of life together. Cara

  7. Cara, After reading your heartbreaking and insightful sentiments in support of your friends, the Naib’s, I scrolled down to find your name as the author. So very sorry for their loss and yours. As a parent of a 13 and 15 year old, hearing about Cayman has made me and countless other parents stop in our tracks. Hoping we can all learn from your words about becoming present in support of our friends, family and children and what truly matters. All my best to you and the Naib’s, Natalie Lawton

  8. Cara- how lucky the Naib’s are to have your support during this time. I don’t know the family but as a parent I was aching for them. I volunteered in the search for Cayman on Sunday at their property and next door. I was devastated when I heard of Cayman’s death. My mind raced with questions. When I learned that Cayman had taken his own life… more plaguing questions. Were there warning signs, did his parents know he had taken their gun, and of course why did this happen?

    I can’t imagine the pain his parents, family, and friends are experiencing. I think of Cayman’s heartbreak often and I know I will be a better parent because of his story. Love to you and the Naib’s.

  9. Thanks for your insight. Right now the Main Line area is experiencing too many young boys/men leaving this world in tragic ways. Just this past year2015, this is the fourth child that I know or have heard about it. All from strong solid homes. All on an academic track towards college. All involved in their community. So perplexing, so many whys? God bless all who are impacted. What do we, as a society need to do.

  10. i didn’t know Cayman, but I grew up nearby & I heard about the search and woke up from a dream of him playing piano, which led me to write this. Holding his loved ones in my heart.

    Last Impressions

    Help me fold the towels
    Get yer butt in here now
    Just a second mom
    His fingers played a song
    I heard a thousand times
    But this would be the last
    What i wouldn’t give for a moment of the past
    Your smile your laugh a good night hug
    13 is not supposed to end
    Stop the world it can’t go on
    Without my beautiful innocent son

  11. Every time I read or think about Cayman it makes me cry. I never had the privilege to meet him or even know the family but as a parent you can’t help but feel their loss. Cayman was in my prayers when he was missing but now he and his family are in my prayers. RIP Cayman. Gone but never forgotten

  12. Cara, this is absolutely beautiful. And so very true. Living on the Verge really is about being present to the moment AS IT IS, whether pretty or ugly, happy or gut-wrenching. I have followed your friends’ family’s story and have cried my own tears with them. I, too am a bereaved parent. My daughter (who would have turned 14 last Sunday) died when she was only 24 days old. What I know is this – Cayman will rewrite your life and his life will have a profound effect I’m certain on the book you are writing, and that will be your living legacy to him, along with being there for his devastated parents. I would be happy to talk with them or support them when the time is right for them. Please email me if you would like to talk further at [email protected]

  13. Cara – my husband and I do not know your dear friends, the Naib’s, however, I felt called to be there on Sunday morning to help search for their son. You said it so eloquently ~ “showing up and being available to the rawness of life makes you feel more awake and alive…..” I’m so sorry for the outcome of that day, for the loss of this beautiful young man. I hope that this family feels the love & support of this entire community surrounding them.

  14. Cara–I am connected to your husband because I was long ago an English teacher at Keene High School during his time there. I have, in my time, had three students commit suicide. In every instance they were eerily sort of “under the radar” — but in every instance, they were writers who left poetry or other testimony of their struggles. Hence, their deaths haunt me–what could I have done? What did I miss about the depth of their despair? You put it so précisely—life comes to a halt. I would only add that it has taught me the value of humility–who are we to disparage teen-age “drama queens”, or to dismiss a child because they have “an insatiable need for attention”? Thank you for such a thoughtful and helpful response to perhaps the most clumsy and painful of times that leaves us all fumbling for words.

    1. Dear Marcia, Thank you for reaching out. You are spot on about allowing our teenagers to stay curious and yes, clumsy. I fully agree. Cayman was a poet and left behind some profound words for a 13 year old. Warmly, Cara

  15. Cara, that was beautifully written. Cayman’s family will need their friends more after the funeral…for months…years…please continue to be there for them! lost my 19 year old son in August. I have been very lucky to be surrounded by friends and family!
    My son was a rap musician and one of his songs started “I realize life can change in a blink…a couple months, a couple hundred pages covered in ink…”

    1. MaryBeth, thank you for sharing your son’s lyrics. They are really powerful. I would love to read the the rest of the song. I am so sorry for your loss. You know much better than I do what my friends are going through. Sending you love, Cara

  16. Thank You, Cara. He had many powerful lyrics. I have not been able to sit down and really journal thoughts yet, though my 21 year old keeps reminding me that I need to do it!! (He’s a comedian and a writer so that’s how he’s getting through it all. ) I do plan on doing something with his story and his music I’m just not sure which direction yet. It’s still too overwhelming. I would be happy to share more of his lyrics with you though. I’m not much into rap but he has some pretty cool songs and a great voice!
    Please tell Cayman’s family that they are in my thoughts and prayers. If they need a friend who knows…..and please be there for them always. It’s very hard when everyone returns to his or her own life and you sometimes feel as if the world has forgotten. Remind them that you are there!!
    Thank you for being their friend!!
    XO

  17. Oh Kelly. I am just reading your comment. Heartache and darkness—and nothing that I can do but stand by their side. Thank you for reaching out. Sending hugs back to you.

  18. Pingback: Living On The Verge: Thank you for showing up—for me | Unveiled...

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