“S” is for…

S.P.E.A.K.

This past Saturday I participated in an event near and dear to my heart.  The Youth Commission in my city hosts a S.P.E.A.K. (Suicide Prevention Education Awareness and Knowledge) week each year and one of the events is a 5K walk, which was Saturday. Having been touched–and devastated–by suicide with a friend several years ago and again with my step-daughter almost nine years ago, the number of people who showed up to band together and walk for this cause made my heart swell with a kinship to others who have had to endure such a traumatic event in their lives.

Suicide leaves  those left behind in its wake with so many questions.  Did I fail?  Was it my fault?  Should I have seen it coming?  Could I have seen it coming?  Could I have done something to stop it?

It also leaves us with so many “What if’s.” What if I would only have answered that one phone call.  What if I would have followed my gut and made that one last follow-up visit to check in.  What if I did/said something that triggered it.  What if s/he had wanted to open up to me and I wasn’t emotionally available.  What if

The fact is that all the questions and the what if’s will not bring someone back. The day I was finally able to release all of those questions to God, the healing was able to truly begin.  And it was important to me to know that healing does not mean forgetting.  To me, healing is the ability to be able to let the guilt go and use the experience to help others.  To bring awareness to a tragedy that brings so many people to their knees.

And it was when I was on my knees with grief that I was able to find God.  Right beside me, holding me up from falling onto my behind.

photo (8)

scan0002 (2)

Our guardian angel, shining bright.

photo (6)

Letting those balloons fly high into the sky, each with the name of a loved one written on it, watching until they were no more, was beautiful and symbolic to letting our loved ones fly to the heavens. As the balloons disappeared from sight, we knew they were still there.  Just as our loved ones disappeared from our sight, we know they are still there.  And I found such comfort in that.

Peace.