The statistics reported on their web site are staggering: "In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 16 minutes, claiming more than 32,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute; with close to one million people attempting suicide annually."
The title of the walk, "Out of Darkness" is apropos. That fateful night, our Josh entered into a dark place within his mind that he never recovered from. Upon finding him the next morning, cold and stiff, our family was thrust in a darkness of our own. Unwillingly, without consent and any prior warning, having no experience with this type of death, we've had no choice but to walk through this darkness.
At first, you don't see the light at the end - you can only believe it is there. And so you walk - one step at a time in those first few hours and days. Then you walk one day at a time through each month's anniversary. For me, the time seems to have gone so quickly. How can it be seven months already?
How am I feeling now - seven months later? The only word that comes to mind is "resigned". Resigned to the fact that Josh is gone - and nothing I do or say can bring him back to me. He will never be coming through our front door again, to drop his backpack and sports bag on the floor, flop onto a living room couch and take a quick nap with the dogs. We'll never hear the quick race down the stairs in the morning and slam of the door as he scurries to get to school on time. There will be an empty seat at the Thanksgiving table. We won't see his "Santa list" on our fridge door. He will not be part of our annual Christmas photo. He won't be around to celebrate his 18th birthday next January.
Resigned that unless I was a mind reader, there was no way to know that Josh was thinking of suicide as he gave no indication to us or anyone close to him. So I cannot blame myself anymore.
Resigned that I will never know the answer to the question, "why". Through the books that I am reading and some email correspondence from readers of this blog, I have a better understanding of a suicidal mind. But even if I knew exactly why Josh did this, I probably wouldn't understand anyway, because to me, there was nothing in his life - even expulsion from Fairfax County Public Schools - that would be a reason for death.
Resigned that we have to continue with our lives - in spite of his absence. And that it is his memory that will live on in our hearts.
I suppose resignation is good. Perhaps it the precursor to acceptance.
I will end this post with pictures taken at the Atlanta "Out of Darkness" walk. There is one coming up in our area. The Fairfax NOVA walk is this Saturday, October 24th. Unfortunately, Tim and I will be out of town and cannot participate. If there are some that do, in Josh's name, please take some photos and email them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos of Josh placed on a table with pictures of other loved ones.
Participants made necklaces out of different color beads which has the following symbols:
Lost a child - white
Lost a sister or brother - orange
lost some other relative or friend - purple
Support the cause - blue
Lost a spouse or partner - red
Lost a parent - gold
Struggles personally - green
Lauren, Gillian and Tyler wearing their "Josh" T-shirts and necklaces. Gillian wore a white bead for us.
Josh - we love and miss you.