"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


des·ti·ny n., 1. Something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing; lot or fortune 2. The pre-determined, usu. Inevitable or irresistible, course of events 3. The power or agency that determines the course of events.

Some things that happen in life are so big they change us forever, permanently altering the direction and focus of our lives, changing our destiny.  At the time I didn’t realize it, but the day my sister died my destiny changed.  The power of her suicide and its aftermath was too great to ignore, so significant that it couldn’t help but fundamentally change me and my life’s direction.  Being an advocate for suicide prevention education and mental health awareness doesn't seem like a choice.  Experiencing my sister’s suicide feels made it inevitable that I would try to find some purpose behind her death and use my experiences as a survivor to help others. 
Mine isn't the only destiny that changed after the suicide of a loved one.  Over the weekend I helped at a golf tournament fundraiser for Miles of Hope, Inc., a foundation that raises money to assist military members and veterans.  Mark and Melanie Vigil started the foundation after their son Miles killed himself in November 2010.  Here’s a link  to a newspaper article that talks about Miles, his death, and how the Vigil’s are using his death to provide hope for others. http://www.standard.net/topics/service/2011/02/26/parents-soldier-killed-war-want-find-hope-his-death

The tournament was a success, with great support from many individuals and businesses.  Over $15,000 was raised! Sitting on the pavilion as golfers gathered for lunch I was struck by the love and support given so freely by so many.  I don’t know for sure, but I bet almost every person there knew Miles or was touched by his life in some way. I’m certain every single one of them would have done whatever was necessary to help save his life.  It reminded me of a poem someone recently shared with me.

“…We remember you.  Not as a soldier who fought a battle read about between the pages of our history book, not as a soldier who fought for his country for values and a way of life worth preserving.

We remember you as a soldier on the battlefield of life, valiantly struggling through your own personal war.  A war none of us were aware of.

All of us would have taken up arms for your cause.  We would have rallied, given muskets of courage, canons of patience, barrels of understanding, rifles loaded with love and compassion. 

But you didn’t let us know we needed to come to your aid.  We didn’t know you were on the battlefield all alone.  The dragons of despair, the monsters of melancholy, the shadows of stress and the presence of pressures. 

We would have slayed them, we have lessened their ability to lead you astray from a life full of hope, promise and love. 

Now we remember you, for you valiantly fought a battle only this family is vaguely aware of.  You were our soldier, our happy, carefree, confident companion.  

We wish we could have helped you, but this was one battle you had to fight by yourself.  We treasure our memories of you and of our times together.  We remember you with love, but most of all, we love you and remember you always. “ ~ Author Unknown

Who wouldn't take up arms and do whatever was necessary to slay the demons that torments a loved to the point of taking their own life?  I would have done anything in my power to save my sister's life.  Every person gathered together on Sunday to support Miles of Hope would have gladly done whatever it took to save Miles.  I'm certain of it.  

Mark, me and Melanie 
Sitting in the sun, surrounded by the sounds of laughter and music, watching so many gathered to support a common cause made me a little introspective and melancholy, wondering why all of us weren't given the chance to rally a little sooner.  Then the band started playing The Beatles "Don't Let Me Down".  It was too much.  I had to escape to the bathroom to cry.  The irony of that song, there, that day, reminded me of how suicide lets so many people down.  As I took deep breaths to calm myself I realized there was another way to look at it.  My sister, like so many others, gave her life in a battle with mental illness.  I can't let her down. I won't let her death be in vain. Together with other survivors like Mark, Melanie and their family, we'll find hope and meaning from tragedy, helping each other heal while at the same time providing hope, healing and support to others.  

Me and Melanie


  1. Sometimes a tragedy will alter a person's life forever. That has happened to you, and you are fighting to help others, which you are now doing every day. You are an inspiration to many. I am also very grateful that you write this blog to let those of us who care about you know how you're doing.

    1. Thanks DJan. I so appreciate your support and concern.

      Life has been busy lately, with both duty and summer fun, so I'm behind on reading blog posts. During my quick skimming of headlines I noticed you're gardening. I need to catch up on my blog reading and commenting. Until then, take care.


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