Tomorrow is the campus walk at Southwestern University to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The entire walk was created and organized by my remarkable husband. He got the idea when I did the Overnight Walk last April in Dallas, and one year later it is a reality. The walk has already raised over $5800 and over 100 people have signed up to walk. More than that he is bringing awareness to atopic that is often taboo.
When your mom dies by suicide when you are 19, at first you are just surviving. Especially when it happens in 1998 when NO ONE is discussing suicide. There are no walks, websites, or advocates. When you stop counting the days from the moment it happened you start to think forward on your life. You wonder how you are going to handle the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday. Then your mind goes beyond the first year. I immediately thought my wedding day was going to be the most horrible day without my mom being present, but that thought was interrupted wondering how I was even going to find someone to love this mess that was now my life.
It is one thing to navigate being a survivor of suicide, it is something completely different to ask someone to walk with you through it. Every start of a relationship you wonder at what point it will be discussed and how the other person will respond. At first you hold it close to you, but then you decide at some point to throw it out there from the start.
When I met Matthew, I knew he was a wonderful person, but I fully didn’t know how remarkable he was. From the beginning he has been honest telling me he will never know what it is like to go through what I have. He has not pretended to understand, but he has also not shied away from my pain. He has held me when I cried, he has helped me find ways to remember her, he has walked miles of the Overnight Walk with me, and he got involved with suicide advocacy a few years ago. At first it started with participating with Lax4Life (an organization that had teams play a game each year to bring awareness), then he helped organize events on campus around suicide awareness, and this year it is organizing and leading the charge for this walk.
When you grow up as a little girl you are taught to think of love as a “happily ever after” story, but the reality is, life does not work that way. Life is hard, life is messy, life is beautiful, life is complicated. Matthew not only loved this messy aspect of my life, but he is now an advocate to help others not suffer. This is love in the truest form. Although I love when he gives me flowers and cards, this walk tomorrow is probably the greatest act of love he has shown me.