Forever 44 – LOVE LOUDER

When my mom died on August 22, 1998 she was 44… so she will forever be 44 to us. This year the Overnight Walk for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is once again virtual. I have previously blogged on why this event each year is so important, sacred to me. This year is my seventh year to participate and up until a month ago I had decided to take the year off. Since it was virtual, I didn’t initially feel the same connection… last year I had tried to get some people to walk with me and was so thankful my friends Raquel and Jennifer put some miles with me… but honestly I didn’t have the energy to organize it this year… so that is why I decided not to walk.

A few weeks ago I saw a post a Baylor Football player made on twitter, and it was about mental health. For some reason my short interaction with him caused me to register for the walk and start to fundraise. I had no clue how I was going to do the walk with travel plans all around June 26.

This last week I was in Washington DC with my friend Raquel. We got there on Sunday and by Friday we had walked 37 miles! During the week, I decided the miles I walked with her would be my “virtual walk”. It seemed fitting since so many places we visited reminded me of my mom. Although I have been to DC numerous times since I had been there in seventh grade with my family… many sites brought back smiles because of my mom’s love of them… The Jefferson Memorial was her absolute favorite… Watching the changing of the guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier reminded me of her appreciation for visiting such a site. Most of all Raquel and I laughed so much and made the most of a few unfortunate things (like a mouse in our VRBO within five minutes of arriving… we didn’t stay!).

I got home last night completely exhausted, but when I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to do something since today was the day of the event. As I started thinking, I realized if I walked seven miles that would make a total of 44 for the week… the age my mom was when she killed herself. I did the first 1.5 with Matthew and Minnie. As I finished the last 5.5 I had so much time to think and reflect.

My mom is forever 44… my sister turns 44 in 11 days. It is hard to believe my sister will be the age my mom was when she left this world. I thought about how much my sister and I have done in the years without our mom. We both have become successful in our careers and daily strive to help those in need. We have traveled to Paris and stood on top of the Eiffel Tower and gazed at the Mona Lisa. We both try to love and laugh in big ways just like she taught us. I have become a wife and mother. Do we miss her? More than I have words to say. I am so sad she missed seeing the people we have become. I grieve that she never knew Matthew or Keaton. I know she is proud of us. I hope she knows I am proud of her. She raised two daughters (with my dad) to care about others, laugh big, become independent, and enjoy life. She was the epitome of LOVE LOUDER.

Thank you to those who donated to the walk!

Amanda Bigbe — Nekisha Henry — The Wieland Family — Keri Lansdell — Mandy Griffith — Nacy Bausano & Family — Katherine Adams — Dad — Wendy Castillo — Kelly Darby — Kathy Cawthron — Lisa Cleere — Reetu Naik — Debby Mata — Katie McAleer

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