PROSPER, Texas — The Speed family loves its traditions; especially holiday traditions. Mark Speed makes the Christmas candy and Cathy makes the cookies.
This year in the Speed home, someone is painfully missing. Their 18-year-old son, Braden, committed suicide on October 30, 2018. This was the family's first Christmas without him.
"I came home from the doctor and walked up to tell them I was home, and there was a note on his door that said not to come in," said his mother Cathy.
The family tells WFAA the Prosper High senior loved the holidays and Hallmark movies. More importantly, he wanted connection. "I think it's becoming a lost art: deep relationship. Braden was a deep relationship kid," said Cathy.
Mark, Braden's father, has started a blog called Braden's Voice to help him articulate the tough answers to questions after his son's suicide. The questions of "Why" and "What's Next?"
The blog reads: "The blog is about transparency in our story. Our prayers is that parents, teens, and communities, can learn how to not only save lives but to build relationships in making a purposeful life."
Mark says the answers to those tough questions came to him in Braden's voice. "I needed people to invite me, to care about me, to make me feel valued, and to stay," Mark said.
The Speeds took the answer to the school he attended. His hope is to change the culture in schools across America starting in Prosper. "I am so tired of hearing we have to stop bullying and be nicer after every child," said Cathy.
The family and the school are looking into special programs of empowerment and peer-to-peer relationship building. The school district confirms to WFAA that a program is currently in the works for implementation. Two programs the Speeds have touted are Rachel's Challenge and Hope Squad.
"The holy spirit has walked with us, and that's the sole purpose of our message," said Mark.
Braden's Christmas stocking will stay up every year and his pictures will always be ornaments on the Christmas tree. That just may be the toughest traditions the Speeds will endure every year.