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Out of the Darkness walk

Yesterday was an odd, peculiar day.

Team Lauren gathered bright and early for the Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention and awareness. I was blown away by how many people gathered for the walk. I was convinced it was going to be an emotional, moving day. At points, it was.

However, one thing, or, rather, person, definitely changed the mood of the event: the DJ/ emcee for the Walk. He was bubbly, excited, and everything you should not be at a walk about suicide. He started off by playing “Pumped Up Kicks,” a song about a massive shooting. He also shouted, “Are you all excited to be here? MAKE SOME NOISE!”

What. The. Hell.

He also went around to different walkers and excitedly asked them why they were at the walk. His conversations went a little something like this:

DJ: Hello there! What are you doing here on this beeea-u-ti-ful day? Are you just here for the great cause, the exercise, to meet new friends, or…?
Person: (awkwardly, quietly, sadly, or all of the above) My (friend, spouse, family member) killed themselves.

Talk about awkward. Sheesh.

Beyond the terrible DJ, the walk itself was very nice. It was a beautiful day out, and people turned up by the hundreds to walk in memory of their loved ones. Team Lauren had a decent turn out, and we raised 139% of our fundraising goal. (Woooo!) The walk wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be, probably because I had fun walking with a toddler the entire time.

After the walk, I somehow ended up at the private school campus where Lauren’s memorial service was. I walked alongside the canal where we had tossed roses in the water a year ago, and I sat down and had my own sort of private memorial service for Lauren. I haven’t really had the time to sit and reflect on Lauren’s death these past few weeks, or at least not in a specific place. (Lauren was cremated so there isn’t really any place to go and pay my respects to her.) Sitting alongside the canal felt like I was in Lauren’s presence, and I took the moment to set up a photo and a button from the walk. My makeshift memorial proved to be very useful, and for the first time in a long time I was able to just sit and sob, finally taking care of all my emotions that I’ve neglected these past few weeks. I cried a bit in the middle of the night on Lauren’s actual deathaversary, but I didn’t let myself really think about it.

It almost sounds silly, but yesterday was a day of closure for me. I actually talked “to” Lauren, or at least verbalized what was on my mind. It was kind of an odd scene– I was sitting along a canal on the campus of a very beautiful school, hidden slightly by woods. A chipmunk was sitting less than 5 feet away from me, the canal was flowing freely and glimmering in the sun, and there I was, sitting, sobbing, and talking to a button and photo set up against some chicken wire to prevent student from falling in the canal.

a makeshift memorial in honor of Lauren

I think the biggest part of my “conversation” was that I told Lauren I forgave her, and while I would never understand completely why she chose to take her life, I understood that it was a very brave decision to make. Actually verbalizing these thoughts was surprisingly emotional, and even though I was just talking to a canal and some photos, I was overwhelmed by emotion. For the first time in the past year, I felt as if a HUGE weight was lifted, and I felt a combination of relief, acceptance, and forgiveness. You know that feeling when you just need a really good cry, and how after you cry and sob you feel as if you lost a ton of emotional weight? That’s what I felt, and it was the most surreal, yet best, feeling in the world.

It’s amazing how much of a difference verbalizing your feelings and emotions can make.

You can donate towards Team Lauren until December 31st if you feel so inclined.

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