I have been thinking about this post for weeks, and I have wanted to write something organized and transformative about suicide, but sometimes life and stories don’t work that way.
Earlier this month I attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in San Francisco. I volunteered to photograph the event this time. Three years ago I walked with my two children.
I don’t know if the camera helps me connect or if it keeps me isolated.
There are two national walks each year. This year the walks were in San Francisco and Boston. Father’s Day was on the weekend between the two walks. I lost my father to suicide the year I became a father. The last several weeks, I thought about him often, and I thought about what it means to be a father..
I was surprised this year that I struggled. I struggled to write. I struggled to be grateful on Father’s Day. I probably started struggling in May. Because I did not know why I struggled, I struggled more… but I am not sure if that is the real reason.
I have met many friends through this journey. I can often connect quickly with people who have experienced this type of loss. I am more comfortable when I am in the company of fellow travelers, even though it reminds me that I often live in a culture that does not deal well with all of the stages of grief.
I took some good photos, but the connections were more important… as much for me for the other people.
Ten years after my father died, I spent the day mindful of the anniversary. When I wrote about the experience, I became grateful. I wanted to write something similar this time.
On May 10th, I wanted to attend a concert in San Francisco, but I was afraid. I was afraid to walk the same streets that I walked when I wrote this post in 2013. I wasn’t afraid of the streets. More recently, I became afraid to express myself. I thought that I would be reminded of being too vulnerable.
A few years ago, I had been more brave, but I also had more to say.
One of these days, I will have more to say again. Maybe it will be something profound. Until then, I will keep showing up. I will find safe people and be a safe person for others.
… and leave some things unfinished.
and here is the photo gallery from the overnight.
NOTE: I edited this post in July. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it wasn’t that good either.