Last year, after it had been 6 months since Kaitlyn’s death, my family members, friends and I walked in the Out of the Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Myrtle Beach, SC. Our team raised more money than any other team that was participating in the walk in Myrtle Beach. The AFSP is such a good organization and they do so much for suicide prevention, help for those that have lost loved ones to suicide, education and so much more.
I will continue to make a donation to AFSP every year. But I have decided what I probably knew the day I walked, that I won’t be participating in that walk again this year.
It’s not that I don’t believe in and support this organization so very much because I do. But the truth is, I can’t bear to do it again this year. Last year after it was over, it took such a toll on me mentally and physically that it took me days to get over it. No, it was not strenuous at all, but the sheer overwhelming grief I felt during it was debilitating to me. There was another program that I went to awhile after this and it had the same effect on me.
I’m a different kind of person in a way I suppose. I can write about Kaitlyn, write a book about Kaitlyn, have a blog about her, post pictures on Facebook and on my blog about her, I can make video slides and put them to music with pictures of her. These things that I do some people that have lost a child to suicide could never, ever do. But for me, though it hurts so much, it is somehow therapeutic for me to do these things. But if I ever do anything in public that has to do with Kaitlyn’s death I just can’t bear it. It’s like I just learned of her death and the cold, hard reality of her death hits me like a ton of bricks. I also can’t go out and do anything with people in her honor such as going out to eat when it’s her birthday. If my physical body is somewhere where I have to deal with her death it almost kills me. I can’t do book signings, I can’t do verbal interviews because I don’t think I could ever make it through them.
I don’t in any way mean to say that the Out of the Darkness Walk is too hard for people to do. It’s just too hard for me right now.
Some people think that the thing I am able to do such as writing about her, means that I’m strong. If you only knew how very much the opposite was true. I’m not strong at all. There’s so much I cannot do when it comes to Kaitlyn.
Today I went to her grave to check on the new summer flowers that I had put in the vase at her headstone a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to make sure they had not blown out of the vase or anything and they had not. I cleaned off her stone and vase with water from a spray bottle and wiped it off with a cloth that I keep in my car. Many people find comfort at their loved one’s gravesite. Most people feel a great need to go there often. They talk to their loved one out loud there. Again, I am different because it’s all I can do to go there. I don’t feel her presence there. I’m not comforted there. I find it difficult to say anything to her there. But I go to make sure everything looks ok. It almost kills me to go. I can’t bear the thought of my baby’s body lying in that grave; the body that I once hugged and loved a billion times in her life. I can’t bear the thought of her spirit in that body not still walking this earth. It’s one of the most unendurable things that I do.
After Kaitlyn was buried, they had left the grass intact with the top soil and when they covered the grave they were able to keep that grass intact and it covered her grave. The grass never died. So many graves out there just have dirt covering them with no grass. But not Kaitlyn’s. They did a good job with that. It is done so well that you can’t even tell the earth was ever moved under it.
But today when I went as I walked toward the grave, the grass that was covering it was a lighter color than the rest of the grass causing me to see the exact rectangular shape of her grave. The moment I saw that I stopped in my tracks and it took my breath away. It drove home the reality that her body is down there. It’s the same feeling I have when I do anything about suicide in her name in public. It makes me have to deal with the personal, in my face, in my heart reality of her death and I just cannot deal with it. I can’t take it. It’s just too much to bear.
I guess I somehow think that the more I write about her, the less dead she will be. I’m keeping her alive here in my words. It’s the only way I can deal with it at all. The weight of the sadness I feel by her death is excruciating. And I am not strong…not strong at all.
That’s why I’m not walking this year.