The following is part of a series of “I Walk Because…” posts. To find out about joining one of AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks, click here.
April 19, 2017 – This year I am walking in the San Diego Out of the Darkness Overnight walk.
I walk to honor the memory of my son David, who we lost May 1, 2010 at age 20. San Diego will be my fifth Overnight experience. My first two times I walked at State College, Pennsylvania with my son’s fraternity brothers and other college friends. At first it was a way to stay close to David’s friends and keep his memory alive. When most of his friends graduated, I chose to continue, and signed up for the Overnight walk in Washington, D.C. My lovely niece Chelsea, who is David’s age, decided to accompany me, and has joined me for each walk since. In Philadelphia, in 2014, we were lucky enough to be joined by four other friends, as well.
Each walk has been a different, and rewarding, experience. We find comfort in knowing there are others who have suffered the same loss we did. It is heartwarming to meet and talk to so many different people from different walks of life who share the same type of loss, however different our circumstances are.
David, for instance, did not suffer from depression, as far as we know, though he may have hid it extremely well. He was a star athlete in high school: he wore the number seven as the three-year starting quarterback, played intramural sports with his fraternity at college, and had many friends who loved him. He was a very sensitive and compassionate person. I believe he would be proud of this organization, and its efforts to eliminate suicide and the shame that surrounds it.
There have been several occasions in which I am sure David sent a sign that he was walking with us in spirit. In Philadelphia, just at the point we were tiring, we turned a corner, and there was a building with a large banner: three large sevens, with three smaller ones at the bottom; the address was 777. We all agreed it was his way of encouraging us. At the Overnight in New York City last year, I was extremely nervous about walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, due to my fear of heights. As Chelsea and I got to the bridge, though, we saw it was the beginning of mile seven. It seemed another sign that David was there with us. Later, when we wanted someone to take our photo, the first person we saw to ask was wearing a State College shirt. It turned out he knew about David, and had a friend in his fraternity.
I don’t just walk for David. I walk because I know AFSP is doing everything it can to fight suicide, so that others will not have to suffer the losses those of us who walk have suffered.
I walk to be close to my son again, and to keep his memory alive. I walk in the hope that someday, others will not have to.
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