Side by Side, We Walked

By Jonathan FrazierOctober 13, 2009

When we woke up to get ready for the Out of the Darkness Walk in Cocoa Beach, it was still dark outside.  We loaded up in the van to go to the park. The walk was sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  We checked in and met Angela, the woman who organized the walk for our area.  She wore a button on her shirt with a smiling young woman with long auburn hair on it.  It’s her sister Carla—she died by suicide two years ago.  Today, her family walked for her. We did too.

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Memory boards covered one picnic table.  It was a place for attendees to write special messages to friends and family lost to suicide. This is a message to a father:

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The picture you see below is of TWLOHA’s contribution to these memory boards. This year we received donations from friends and families in memory of these loved ones. We hold them and their families close to our hearts. We walked in their honor and on behalf of their loved ones.

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Before beginning the walk, Angela gathered everyone together.  She shared the story of her sister’s long battle against depression.  She talked about how important it is that we reach out to others, to make it real when we say “you are not alone.”  She stressed the importance of medication and therapy.  She said her family wanted to do this walk in an effort to help people like their sister.  With a group of no more than thirty-five people, together, we set out to walk three miles, half on the sidewalk along the road, half on the beach.  The sun had been rising in the sky, and the light was erasing the darkness.

We walked for the memories.
We walked for the families.
We walked for the names on our banner posted to the memory board. 
We walked for the woman on the beach who lost her brother to suicide.
We walked with the family who lost their father two months ago.
We walked with the woman who lost her father thirteen years ago to suicide, who attempted to take her own life seven years ago. 
We walked so that we don’t forget.
We walked because we are all connected.
We walked to let our stories come together, to tell a greater story of hope.
Yes, we walked for HOPE.

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It was an honor to be a part of such an intimate setting, walking with such a freshness of healing.  We are grateful to have been there, to literally walk through this with people in our community. We entered the walk among strangers, and left with friends, left with people who truly cared for one another, left with encouragement that we are doing the right thing. We left in the light.

so much love.
fall 09 intern

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