When your sister-in-law, who was also your best friend, died by suicide, you are of course completely devastated, crushed, lost, hurt, lonely, and even angry.
Emma Cashman, a senior at Steel Canyon High School, needed someone who truly understood the pain that comes with such a devastating loss.
Steel Canyon women’s soccer coach Charlie Cleves knew exactly what Cashman was feeling. His best friend died in his arms 14 years ago.
Aside from tragedy, Cashman and Cleves had a common bond: football.
Cleaves has been a coach at Steel Canyon since 1998. Cashman has been playing sports since he was four years old, about 13 years ago.
14 years ago, Cleves’ U.S. Marshals Agency partner and best friend, Cleves, called him to hurry up and he was feeling down.
“It wasn’t the first time he talked about hurting himself, but I didn’t always tell him that,” Cleves said. Don’t do that.
“He died in my arms. I screamed at him, ‘Why are you doing this?’
“Memories never fade.”
Dealing with suicide is a learning process, and Cleaves has gone through everything Cashman has gone through and will go through. Cashman was able to speak to Cleaves. And while it caused so much pain, I realized that this time I could do something positive.
One of the things he knew and was able to tell was how helpful it was to be on the soccer field, even for two hours a day.
I was on the field a little over two years ago when I found out that my sister-in-law took her own life.
“I live a very independent life, and when I stand on the field, I feel like a child. I can do it.
“Practice is definitely more therapeutic. When you’re playing the game, the adrenaline is pumping, the crowd is cheering. The game is more peaceful.
“Actually, you can joke. It’s more relaxed. One helps me more than the other.”
Cashman said they do everything together except play football and are more like sisters-in-law than biological sisters.
“We slept in the same room, went to class together, were always together. We seemed attached,” Cashman said. “I was one of the few people she spoke to[about her suicide]and she tried many times.
“It was during the height of COVID when she lost her life. Everything had to be done on Zoom.”
To make matters worse, Cashman had little time to react.
“The rumor spread quickly and the next day someone accidentally released the information,” Cashman said. “It definitely affected my initial reaction. It affected me because I went into survival mode and had no option to go to school.
“I took a few days away from school and football.
“I played for the Surf[soccer club]and the first day I came back I was unfocused and definitely lost. What happened was always in the back of my mind. was born, giving me a reason to continue.”
When Cashman spoke with Cleaves, she discovered he was someone to talk to.
“I didn’t know he went through something like that,” she said. “Coach Charlie was always a loving and caring coach. It’s not normal to lose someone like that, and he was always there for me.
“He was like a father figure and someone who went through a similar experience.
When asked, Cleaves was able to give advice and guidance and was able to provide a distraction to ease her mind.
“He knew how important football was to me,” Cashman said. “Some days there was no dramatic turnaround. .
“I don’t have an answer because I’m still in pain, but I’m there for someone. I could be the shoulder to lean on.”
Cashman recently returned to the Cougars team from club football and is looking forward to this season.
“I try my best to stay focused as much as possible,” she said. “Before every match, I pray to God. My sister-in-law really wants me to succeed, and now I think about it every match.
“Life is so meaningful.”
Brand is a freelance writer.
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988. See SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.
For a list of additional resources.