I will always remember every minute of November 1, 1999. I was a senior in high school, waiting for the principal to punish me for cutting class when he said the four words that would change my life forever, "Your aunt has died."
To this day, I would trade any punishment in the world for that one, for a life without her.
My aunt Gail was a force to be reckoned with. In addition to being a beloved daughter, sister and aunt, she was a loyal friend, and a talented and valued member of the NBC family. She loved her cats and the color purple and though she struggled to show it in her final years, I know she loved our family very much as well.
Not a single day goes by where I don't wonder, for just a moment, what could have been...
Finding Samaritans and figuring out how to turn my loss into something that helps others has been incredible. When I am answering phones on the 24 hour helpline and meeting with families dealing with the confusion and loss after a suicide, I know that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. When I saw an email about the opportunity to run the marathon and raise money and awareness for suicide prevention, despite having never run more than three miles in a row, I just knew it was something I had to do.
If just one person hears about our efforts, or sees our team at the run, and calls the helpline during a time of need, it will have made every early morning and every blister worthwhile.
And besides, I'm sure my aunt is having a great laugh every time I wake up in the dark and freezing cold for a run. Even though it's hard, living my life to the fullest is the only way I know to honor her memory.
With over 500 deaths by suicide a year in Boston alone, this is an issue that touches many of us. I’m not sure if my aunt ever called a helpline, but had she wanted to, I really hope that one was available.
Please consider joining me in my effort to prevent suicide and help families deal with their grief. I have no doubt that your contribution will save lives.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.