Kelsie Eddins. | Courtesy Kelsie Eddins
ROBERTS — Kelsie Eddins and Jake Jackson were strangers living in the same town. But now, one of them considers the other a hero.
Eddins, 31, lives in Roberts and is a single mother of three kids ages 12, 9 and 5. Throughout her life, she’s battled depression and addiction, and in years past, she’s attempted suicide several times. Eddins has since made changes in her life. On Aug. 19, 2019, she attended an Alcohol Anonymous meeting, and that same day started on her path to sobriety.
“It’s a struggle. It’s a test every day. It’s hard, especially with what we’re going through today,” Eddins said about COVID-19.
The pandemic has affected countless lives in various ways. For Eddins, the isolation, social distancing and knowing that some organizations’ doors are closed is part of why on April 7, life hit her hard.
“I was having one of those days. My kids weren’t listening. I’m overwhelmed with the stress of being a single mom, this quarantine. Church services are online, my counseling is the same way and my doctors are the same way,” she said. “We all live in a three-bedroom apartment, so we’re all on top of each other, and the kids just want to go outside, and I had it. It was not my day.”
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Eddins told her kids she was going for a drive. She got in her car and drove to the gas station where she bought a tallboy can of beer. The recovering alcoholic then headed to the boat dock in Roberts.
She said she wasn’t suicidal — she wanted a quiet place where she could let her emotions out.
“I sat there in my car and cried and cried just asking for help,” Eddins said. “I didn’t want what came with the alcohol. I didn’t want that back. I didn’t want that life. … I didn’t want it, but I was so ready, it was so easy. Everything could be gone.”
The Mike Walker Boat Dock in Roberts. | Courtesy Kelsie Eddins
What Eddins didn’t realize as she stared at her bottle of alcohol was that a man who was at the boat dock getting his boat ready for the year saw she was struggling.
“As I was working on the boat, I saw her over there crying. She looked like she was having a hard time, so I walked up there and asked if she was OK,” said Jackson, the father of two kids. “She said ‘Yes,’ and I asked her if she was sure? She shook her head yes.”
But her tear-stained face and the can of alcohol with her showed otherwise. Eddins eventually got out of her vehicle and talked to Jackson.
“I asked her if she needed a hug, and she shook her head yes,” Jackson said.
That simple act — not normally recommended during the pandemic — saved Eddins. What happened that day put things in perspective for her.
“That was all I needed. I knew in my head what I wanted. I know what I didn’t want, but at times it gets so discouraging,” she said. “It can be that simple smile, simple text or simple gesture that may make or break somebody — could be life or death.”
For Jackson, he didn’t feel like he was going out of his way to check on Eddins. He said his parents raised him to help others.
“I don’t think it can be said much better than that,” he said.
After the two talked, Eddins went home with the unopened beer can, and with the help of her kids, they dumped the alcohol down the sink.
“I was so grateful for him. He did a good deed. He did God’s work. He made an impression on my life and my kids’ lives,” Eddins said. “It caught me off guard, and it was exactly what I needed and more.”
While life can be challenging — especially because of COVID-19 — Eddins said we need to remember to pull together.
“Believe, have faith, prayer and keep going, going by minute or second to second if you have to. Reach out. You’re not alone,” Eddins said. “(Life) will knock you down, but it’s whether you get back up and how you get back up is what matters.”