Today is World Suicide Awareness Day. I decided this morning that today would be a good day to blog about our suicide prevention walk we had on Saturday, September 8th.
The day was cool and crisp. The first day like that in a while. My coffee wasn't quite kicking in, I considered toothpicks to keep my eyes open.
But I was awake. I was in my car. And on my way to our annual suicide prevention walk in St. Charles.
The number of people gathered under the beautiful pavillion in Pottawatomie Park was more than the year before. Groups with matching t-shirts. Logos honoring their loved ones who they had lost to suicide. My family had custom t-shirts this year, memoralizing my Grandma.
Before the walk, my mom got on the microphone and spoke how 33 years ago today, she was at my Grandma's funeral. My Grandma was the reason for the creation of SPS.
Today was a difficult day in our world, despite the number of years. You simply do not forget.
Each loved ones name was read outloud. Balloons were released with messages written on the latex. We were especially lucky to get a helium tank. (Thank you Wendi!)
The balloon launch is a tradition at this event. It's impactful and beautiful.
As the photographer for the event, I hid behind my camera, a safe place for me. I snapped photos as the balloons were released. The sky was beautiful. The moon was a crescent in the sky.
The walk began. My mom and I started out and I spotted a man in the crowd. Coroner Ken Toftoy. I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. He knew my mom well and we all began to walk together. My friend Anne was beside me.
Anne saw Coroner Toftoy and her eyes welled up with tears. Coroner Toftoy was there two years ago when Anne's twin brother had taken his life in Oswego. Anne shared that Coroner Toftoy's sincerity and letter to her after really touched her. He had offered her the information for Suicide Prevention Services and he was the reason she had connected with us to walk at the event. It was impactful and I felt the universe connecting dots. There were other walkers who gave Coroner Toftoy a knowing nod or reached out a hand to shake. Some hugged him. He knew their names and their stories of hurt. He walked with all of us.
The walk was along the fox river on the bike trail. We walked all the way to the Geneva windmill and back. Eight miles. A casual pace and lots of good conversation.
The miles were marked with pictures of loved ones. People posed for pictures by their mile marker. The mood was aware, embracing, meditative, and calm.
Lunch was served when we returned. Music played and the sun shone.
My personal favorite part was when my son arrived. I had planned for him to arrive at 1:00, enabling me time to complete the eight miles, and then be there for his arrival.
The day of the walk was also my son's 6th birthday. Seeing him run down the walk into my arms made my whole day. "Mommy I missed you so much!" Although he had just left me the evening before. ;) I will never tire of that emotion of joy. I celebrated my son and helped to close up the event.
The mass of walkers in an eight mile span was amazing. I loathe our reason for being there, but I am so glad to have a place and event for us all to be together.
Our next event will be our Stars of Hope Skylantern Festival in Yorkville, IL. on October 6th, 2012. At 7pm. Full details: www.starsofhopefestival.com
For more information on SPS: www.spsamerica.org