Monday, June 03, 2013
Out of the Darkness Overnight
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I want to thank you, all of you, thank you with ever itty bitty ounce of my being, for donating money to the Out of the Darkness walk, for supporting me personally, for trusting me with names of loved ones you've lost, and for being all around extraordinary, and extraordinarily kind, people.
I felt so lucky to have been a part of the walk, to have contributed to a cause that is so critically important, and to have met such amazing people. I intend to start volunteering with AFSP.
You know, I did the public health stuff in the Peace Corps because I was raised thinking I liked that kind of thing, although I really did not. And I've always felt like I should want to save the planet, should want to go help Sudanese refugees, and while I applaud others who do so, I've not had a drive myself.
But this? This is where my heart is.
The weekend was so many things all swirled together: exhausting, uplifting, devastating, energizing...
I think it best to write about the walk today, and tomorrow write about Friday and our five minutes at the White House before heading to the Old Executive Office Building (because Obama needed the Roosevelt Room, of all things), and the reception, and the awesomeness of it all. Because it is just so much.
And surprisingly, Friday was much heavier for me than Saturday. Friday held more tears.
India and Nick went with me to check in Saturday afternoon, and India got a balloon that she loved loved loved until it flew out of her hands and into the street and popped.
This is why she can't have nice things.
I returned at 7 pm and met up (finally! in person! yay!) with Kiran of Masala Chica, who is truly lovely. We knew each other from blogging and yet, as is the case, we didn't actually know each other and we met and we hugged and we walked together and now we do.
Suicide is a strange, brutal thing to have in common, and it is powerful.
Everyone there had lost someone, or multiple people, or had struggled personally, or was supporting someone who struggled, or all of the above.
Usually when I'm in a room of people, my family history always wins as the worst, even though it's a contest I never enter. I'm the one with the dad who killed himself.
Walking into a room, a courtyard, a street full of people who have all lost someone dear, who have all been through the same kind of horror and pain...I don't know. Oddly, it was a little bit like going to my high school reunion. It felt in a way like going home.
I felt safe.
So Kiran and I walked together for a while, and then my dear friend Amanda, who was with me at the hospital when I called the sex hotline, came and walked with me for six miles.
I'd made a lovely new friend - Joy, a name that suits her - on Friday night, and after Amanda headed home around 12:30 am, I walked with her and her friends through the rest of the night, arriving at GW around 3:30 am. And then collapsed on the grass with so many others to wait for dawn.
Everyone had been given a bag to decorate in memory, and I regret not having had the time to do much but write names on mine.
While we were walking, volunteers were busy setting up the bags, filling them with sand and lights, so we returned to walk through beautiful paths lit by memories of loved ones.
I will do it again next year without question.
I've never stayed up all night and been so proud of myself for doing so. (Which is not to imply that I ought to be embarrassed about other times I've stayed up all night. I mean, probably some of those times. Oh, whatever. I was proud. of myself. I still am.)
Thank you again for your support, for your love, for cheering me on. I couldn't have gotten to the walk, through the walk, to dawn alone, and I'm so happy I had such amazing company all along the way.