Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
~ Robert Frost
The world and I lost a dear friend today. We lost a true warrior for what is Right and Good in this world. Words and poetry alone cannot express the depth of loss I feel right now.
I knew this woman, this warrior.
Today, I honor the memory of Denessa Smith, who passed last night.
Denessa had a beautiful daughter, Tempest. Young Tempest had been bullied and harrassed since second grade for being different from other students in her Michigan school because of her religion.
Tempest was raised Wiccan, an honorable and benevolent religion that honors all living things as Divine. It may not be my choice of path, but it was hers and her mothers and she walked it with beauty, practicing in a quiet, family-based way that caused no harm to anyone.
The bullying reached such a crescendo that this little girl felt she had no other choice but not to walk among those who would make her life here so miserable and devoid of compassion any longer. Sadly, at 12 years of age, Tempest committed suicide.
As a mother, I cannot imagine the heartache and fury Denessa felt at this terrible tragedy and loss. In time, she took that energy and channeled it into gaining the skill sets that would help her in building a foundation to benefit other youngsters who were persecuted, harrassed and bullied. She created the TempestSmithFoundation.
I have donated to this foundation, participated in the fundraisers, spoken several times at length with Denessa, danced, drummed and celebrated by her side. We talked parenting mostly, she was always interested in my kids' experiences at school.
She was an incredible woman with a passion for creating understanding and raising awareness of bullying with teens and adults alike, so no one else had to suffer as her child did.
Denessa Smith was a warrior for tolerance in every sense of the word.
She was one of those people you "felt" walk into a room, the energy and drive was that high around her. Yet she always made time to talk with you and share a smile.
From the Tempest Smith Foundation website:
When Tempest died, Denessa donated her daughter’s organs to the Gift of Life Foundation. She has since become a registered spokesperson and greater advocate for the Gift of Life and does work with the National Kidney Foundation. Denessa is also a registered candidate for bone marrow donation with the National Marrow Donor Program.
For the last five years, Denessa has become actively involved in several community organizations. She joined DeMolay with her son and became an Advisor for the Masonic youth group. She also joined the Order of the Eastern Star to show more support for the Masonic organization.
Through the Meals on Wheels program, Denessa has brought together people from many organizations and multiple communities.
In September 2001, PaganPride.org created a Memorial Page in honor of Tempest. Thousands of people from all over the globe have pledged themselves to being part of the resolution against intolerance. By reading this, you, too, have become a part of the bigger picture — a grand portrait of tolerance, where you can be you and Tempest is free.
Today, I honor the passing of a Warrior.
Fly Free. Your son is safe and loved. Your work will continue. Be at peace with your daughter. Rest a while and enjoy her company.