I hate April 12th. That’s not true. I USED to hate this day because it brought up feelings of hurt, guilt, emotional depletion, confusion, grief and anger. I used to dread it coming around because no matter what I did, it was always the day of the end, or the day of the beginning, depending on how you look at it. It was the day my dad committed suicide.
Now, decades (decades?!? how did that happen?!?) have passed since my dad died. I don’t dread the day as much as I used to and usually the day gets filled up pretty quickly. I have times in the day when my dad’s death isn’t at the front of my mind (thank you LOML, the three Ms, my two jobs, a household to run, and Guilder to blame for it -all you Princess Bride fans know what I’m talking about). I’m grateful for a full life and what the passing of time has given me: acceptance and understanding.
But April 12th still is a day I don’t look forward to when it comes around each year.
For those of you who don’t know the story of my Dad, you can read about it here, here, and here. To sum him up for you, he was charismatic, funny, a great dancer, the life of the party, and loved a good joke. He was my biggest fan. Always was. Always will be. And he worked in marketing. He would have been thrilled with what social media is capable of doing. My dad was an amazing connector. Yep. I’m the apple that fell from his tree. He was a redhead, too.
He was also angry, sad, confused, unhealthy, and ill-equipped to deal with life thanks to a cocktail of abuse as a child, difficult family circumstances, and mental illness. His devoted mother couldn’t undo the damage from his abusive father, and my dad suffered the consequences of his upbringing despite help from caring, loving, generous people along the way.
Every year on this date I try to celebrate his life by finding a way to make a difference. I work to spread some positive energy around on April 12th. It helps me turn his suicide into a way to help others and make lemonade out of a load of lemons.
I also write a post about my dad here on my blog every year. When I write about him, people hear his story and reach out to me with their own stories of loss. I get emails, phone calls, text messages and comments from people who want to talk about the grief of losing someone to suicide. It’s not something people share easily or often, but my blog posts get people talking. Usually, we suffer quietly and it hurts.
Well, some people suffer quietly. Other people, like Cristi Motto Comes, go out and kick some *ss. Cristi is launching her Stop Suicide online auction TODAY to make a difference and help prevent suicide. (How could she know how much this date means to me and my dad?!? She couldn’t know, but I love this coincidence. And I love what she’s doing.)
Cristi is participating in the Out of Darkness overnight walk in Washington DC on June first and has raised over $2,300 on her way to achieving her goal of raising $3,000. With your help, her auction will help her meet -and probably exceed -her goal. Go Cristi!
Of course, the incredible Ellie Shoenberger of Two Little Birds Studio has donated an item of her hand-made jewelry to the auction. Because Ellie’s amazing like Cristi and she’s a giver and I heart her so much. (Excuse my gushing. She knows I love her -it’s not a weird, stalker thing…we’re cool…I gave her a hammer…long story.)
In honor of my dad and anyone else you may have known who lost their battle with mental illness to suicide (yes -it is a lost battle -like cancer) -please go bid.
Make a donation.
Make a difference.
Or if you can’t make a difference that way, please just go out today and do something kind for someone else. I’m not naive. I know that people dealing with mental health issues need a lot more than kind words or a thoughtful gesture, but what if everyone gave a little more effort today in honor of someone they lost to suicide? April 12th could turn into a day that has smiles and kindness associated with it.
And that would be exactly what my dad would have wanted.