I'm ending this week with a heavy post, but a post that is very important for me to share, as it was an event that has shaped my life.
10 years ago today, I was at work on a Saturday, counting down the hours until I could go home when my mom called and tearfully told me that my cousin Chris had taken his life. I remember sitting at work and sobbing over this news. I knew of others whose lives had been touched by suicide but nothing can prepare you for having it impact your own life. There are no words to describe the sadness my extended family felt over the loss of a great young man, or how helpless we felt as we watched his immediate family deal with this tremendous loss.
I will never forget the homily that the priest gave at Chris's funeral. He talked about how Chris was going through some difficult things and he asked each person in the congregation to stand up if they would have been willing to talk to Chris and help him through the difficulties he was struggling with. It was overwhelming to watch every single person in that huge, packed church rise to their feet. The priest then told the congregation to look around and to remember that we are never alone and that there are always people who care and are willing to help you out in your time of need.
The message from that homily has stayed with me, and will always stay with me. In my 20s, I went through a period of depression. It was a difficult stage of my life. There were some pretty dark moments and times where I felt such a sense of despair. But through it all, I remembered that I was never alone. That homily message and the memory of seeing hundreds of people rise to their feet gave me something to look back on to remind myself that I was not and will never be alone. Luckily the period of depression is behind me and I am in a much better place now, but that message will always stay with me.
I've moved 5 times in the last 10 years, but after each move, the picture of Chris that the family sent out in the thank you cards after the funeral goes on the top corner of my fridge.
It is a reminder to never forget this dear person that we lost. It is a reminder of the lessons I learned through his passing. It is a reminder that we are never alone and that there is a sea of people who care.