Saturday afternoon, my softball team mates were a little surprised when I told them I had to leave one of our playoff games early to go get a couple tattoos. A few of the questions I heard were, “Why did you pick today of all days to schedule that appointment?” and “Why didn’t you get them earlier?” or “Why can’t you get them next week?”
Today is September 10. If that date sounds familiar, you may remember that it was one year ago on this date, that I felt it was time to open up about a subject that is very important to me. That subject is suicide.
So today marks World Suicide Prevention Day and one of the ways people are asked to help raise awareness of this is to simply write “Love” on their wrist and wear something yellow. Last year, I didn’t hesitate to pick up that marker…
This year, I’m going 364 steps beyond that and will try to help raise awareness every day. Every year.
So please remember to never be afraid or too busy to listen to that friend or loved one who wants to open up to you and please don’t ever be afraid to open up to someone if you feel you have nowhere to turn. I have been there.
So this is a story that actually unfolded over the course of many months over on Facebook. If you’re friends with me over there, you know that I post a lot. No really… A LOT. So I felt compelled to compile this little story into a single post in the hopes that it can be better appreciated for what it was… is… will be.
It All Started When…
So back in September 2012, I simply had the urge to make a paper crane. I’d dabbled a little with origami several years ago but moved away from it for some reason. I just folded a simple piece of white paper and decided I’d post a photo of it on my mouse pad. (Yes, I have a Star Trek mouse pad – I just gained some “awesome” points with you, didn’t I?)
Back when I had “dabbled”, I had always wanted to try and do the “1000 Crane” wish thing known as “Senbazuru”. As it happened, this was a time in my life when I so wanted something in particular that seemed unattainable, so I decided I was going to go for it so I could whimsically make my wish for it. I also thought the process would help to occupy my brain and keep me from worrying too much about it. How hard could it be? 1000 cranes divided by 365 days, meant that realistically, I only had to make 3 cranes per day. Ha! I could do this standing on my head!
Quest for Cranes
The first day I managed a modest 25 and started storing them in a desk drawer at the office since my apartment is disorganized enough. I knew I’d never be able to keep track of the numbers.
Then I thought, even though I knew what my wish was going to be when I completed the task, maybe it would be interesting to see what other people might wish for.
Now I Just Felt Selfish
As the suggestions started showing up in the comments by my friends, I suddenly couldn’t help but feel a little selfish. I mean, my intended wish was a personal one for sure, but it really seemed to contrast with what some of my friends were saying. Here are a few of the many suggestions I got:
- Wish for someone to be able to conquer their own fears
- Wish for someone to feel like they had really been the best person they could be
- Wish for everyone else to feel as awesome as they do
- Wish to always be happy
- Wish for world peace, tolerance and understanding
- Wish it were easier for someone and their partner to have a baby
I had to admit that the last one really struck a chord with me at this point so I decided that their wish would now be mine…for now. I wasn’t shutting the door on it so as I continued, I kept reminding people that the decision wouldn’t be final until my quest was completed.
A Hint of Things to Come
This seemingly innocent comment showed up from my friend Mary when I started. Awww… that’s sweet. I remembered feeling a little touched that she thought my crane was beautiful.
The weeks and months went by, and with every 100 cranes, I posted a picture.
Friends continued to relay their wishes to me in the hopes that theirs would be the “most worthy”.
However, by the time I had reached this one, my wish was clear.
The Universe Speaks…
And it’s not always what we want to hear…
In January, I received a simple text from my friend Mary asking me if I could take some photos she wanted to send me and quickly put them into a collage. After a few questions were exchanged, she asked if she could phone me.
My heart broke that day for Mary. I had known her for years and had never, ever heard her voice sound the way it sounded through my phone. I have so much respect for her knowing she had such incredible strength at this point in her life to be able to get the words out to me that her son had taken his own life.
So life sort of stopped at this point for me. Any of my personal things that were going on got put on the back burner while I did my best to help her in whatever ways I could. Which in this case, was for me to put together a collage of photographs for a memorial wreath that she needed that day. After a little time, I put together something that would later end up on her son’s grave.
As the weeks went by, I watched as Mary posted pictures on Facebook showing us all the events of Cree’s short life.
I had only met Cree once. It was at a softball game on the Halifax Commons. I was sitting with Mary and some others when he stopped by to talk to his mother. It was so brief and I think the only words we exchanged were simply, “Nice to meet you.”
Watching his life unfold on Facebook through photos and stories by his friends and family, I really felt I was starting to know him. And that’s when I saw this photo:
…And the Universe spoke… Loud and clear.
I now had a clear focus on my task. All wishes I had been considering were off the table. And although I felt guilty abandoning my friends who wanted a baby, the Universe came through for me with an assurance that my new direction was the right one. My friends who were trying to have a baby, posted this:
Yup. They were pregnant. WTG Universe! Thanks for taking care of that too!!
That Annoying Chick and Her @#$% Cranes!
I’m sure by this point; my paper folding was getting annoying to my friends and family. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, I always had paper in my purse to fold. Board game nights were spent with me sitting with my friends folding paper whenever it wasn’t my turn to play. Family events were spent with me sitting at the dinner table folding away at every opportunity. Monthly supper dates with other friends would see me sitting in a restaurant with cranes adorning the tabletop before the meals showed up. The servers and clientele at my favorite restaurant became quite accustomed to my crane obsession. They never seemed to mind when I would always insist on a booth so I had lots of room for all the cranes that eventually took over the space.
Every hundred cranes, I would post a new photo all the while, keeping things under my hat until the day would come to unveil the 1000th crane for all to see.
Some of the comments that showed up during this time were funny, encouraging, inspiring and yes, even a little prophetic.
Oh I love you Mary! I can’t wait to finish!
So with a flurry, I rushed through the next 99 cranes. During that time, it dawned on me…
Mary was still unaware at this point since she hadn’t even made a suggestion for a wish in all this time.
The Big Reveal
The last crane took a little work but I finally figured out a way to create the special one to end the quest. And with a simple text message, I let her know.
And so like a true friend, she came through for me too. I absolutely LOVE this and it will be with me for the rest of my life.
Love you Mary! Peace.
I woke up this morning feeling good. I was prepared to go about my day as I always do. Shower, Facebook, work, coffee, coffee, coffee, home. However, I was struck square in the gut when I went on Facebook this morning. A friend had posted a status update informing everyone that today is Suicide Awareness Day.
I decided to write something different today. I know my posts are usually humorous (at least I think they are) but the last few days have been a little rough to say the least. I’m going to write about my friend, Raymond Taavel who’s life was violently cut short by the product of a failed judicial system (but that’s another story). Outlined below are the bulk of my experiences with Raymond from the day we met until his passing yesterday.