Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 4-year-old son and toddler daughter, and their yellow Lab.
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Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an 8-part series of weekly feature stories written in conjunction with the ongoing “Inside Out” community campaign to normalize mental illness. This story is the first of a two-part feature on the topic of suicide, examining the issue from the standpoint of a mother who lost her young son (in this story), and then from a woman who has herself had suicidal intents (that story will be published Sunday, March 24, in print and online).
Editor's note: This is the second in an 8-part series of weekly feature stories written in conjunction with the "Inside Out" community campaign to normalize mental illness. Imagine arriving at the scene of a bad accident. You see two crushed cars laying on their sides in the road. It's your job to extract the crash victims from the insides of those cars. They're hurt, and scared. One is just a child — about the same age as one of your own. You do your job, you do everything right, but still, one of the victims doesn't make it.
It was standing room only in the conference center at M State on Tuesday for the "Inside Out: A Step Inside Mental Illness" Video Premiere and Panel Event. A crowd of about 200 people showed up in support of Detroit Lakes' new community campaign to normalize mental illness — enough that there were some without seats even after the last-minute addition of extra chairs.
Four years ago, after 36 hours of intense on-and-off labor that ended in an unplanned C-section, all the anxieties of those grueling hours in the delivery room melted away the moment I laid eyes on my beautiful, healthy baby boy. My newborn son looked up at me with such love and wonder that I instantly forgot about everything else. It didn't matter anymore what it took to get to that moment — we got there.
Some trips are taken to help people get away, to escape their daily lives and lose themselves on a beach somewhere. This wasn't one of those trips. When mother-and-son travelers Mindi and Matt Jenson visited South Korea this past fall, they wanted not to lose themselves, but rather to find themselves — or at least, a part of themselves. A part that, until then, had always felt like a faraway footnote in their family's history.
"Nobody can believe I have what I have." People who've just met Lisa Flynn, or who talk to her only in passing, would never in a million years guess that the radiant woman in front of them has a terminal illness. With her utterly cheerful personality, bright eyes and full head of hair, Flynn doesn't look or behave like people usually expect someone with an advanced, incurable type of cancer to look or behave. When people find out that she has Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, they're always shocked, Flynn says — and she gets it.
St. Paul's Lutheran School has had a growth spurt. The Perham parochial elementary school has added new teachers, a new full-time preschool option, new technology, a new robotics program, and an addition onto the building, all since the end of last school year. Principal Jolene Wagner said the changes were necessary to accommodate rising enrollment while keeping with the school's mission to offer small class sizes, new technologies and a family-like environment.
The 549 Family Foundation, in conjunction with Perham Public Schools and the Live Wide Open initiative, will be hosting an event to welcome former community members back home for the holidays and let them know that, should they ever want to return for good, Perham's door is always open — and there's a lot of opportunity here waiting for them.
Perham is pretty good at taking care of its own. Whether it’s Perham grads looking for work right out of high school, or alumni coming back after college to put down roots, the community embraces its Yellowjackets with open arms.
It's the heart of the holiday season in Perham, and community groups and businesses all over town are spreading the spirit through special events and promotions. In the two weeks since the city's annual Parade of Lights, which is always held the Friday after Thanksgiving, there have been several planned activities for people to enjoy. And in the weeks to come between now and Christmas, there will be plenty more.