In addition to not having a moment to sit down, I’ve delayed writing about the Out of the Darkness Walk because I wasn’t sure what to say. It was a good experience. It is something I am so happy to have done. It contributed to some healing that I didn’t even realize I needed. It made me feel useful.
But I think that raising money was the part that made me feel amazing. It was beyond moving to have people donate, to know that they did it for me, or for my father, or for my family, or for their own experience. It felt like I was doing something. Sharing so much, especially here on my blog, really felt like coming out of the darkness is so many ways. It was an invaluable experience for me. Contributing to a cause that means so very, very much to me was fulfilling and eye opening.
The day of the walk was cool and breezy. The sun was shining and Battery Park was beautiful. My friends and I rarely get out of the neighborhood these days and being there was nice. It was amazing to see just how many people were there. One of my favorite parts were the honor beads that everyone wore. Each color designated why you were there and I kept forgetting, but I knew that each person wearing gold, like me, had lost a parent. The speakers were brave and amazing. Spending some child-free time with my friends was actually one of the best parts of the day. In addition to catching up about pretty much everything, they let me talk. They listened to me talk about my dad, they looked at the photos I brought. It felt so good, because a lot of the time it feels like a taboo subject.
But, and I didn’t want there to be a but, people stuck with their own. I wanted to feel not so alone. Being a survivor of a loved one’s suicide can be so very lonely. A part of me really wanted to feel that loneliness subside a bit. Instead, I felt sort of disconnected from the rest of the people there. I wanted to see that other people felt like I do and I didn’t get that. I think it was the wrong place. Maybe I can find that in another way.
The most healing part for me came at the end. My father’s photo was in the memorial garden and I saw that some people had taken their photos to take home. I went over and saw two people embracing looking at the photo of their loved one. When they left, I walked up and looked at the photo of my dad. There he was, smiling on the beach. I was going to grab it, but I couldn’t. I stood and looked. I felt tears in my eyes. My father doesn’t have a grave because he was cremated. Being there felt a lot like being at a grave site. He was there among other people who were loved and lost. I felt sad, but I felt peaceful. In the end, I left him there among the others and it felt right.
I really want to thank AFSP for doing these walks. They do so much good in so many ways. Not only do they help provide much needed services, but they help people heal through them. Thank you again to everyone who gave to my campaign and to my team. We raised far more than we expected and it will go to wonderful, and often overlooked cause. It’s a good thing. A very good thing.