I awoke late on a beautiful January morning in the White Mountains of NH, settled down for a cup of coffee and found myself slowly engulfed in a book my eldest daughter had been reading titled "The Happiness Project". After enjoying a few hours of peace that morning, and quite a few chapters, I decided to lace up my sneakers and go for a run. Suffering from a severe case of writer's block, the last thing I said to my daughter before heading out the door was "off for a run, desperately in need of some inspiration for my Samaritans' marathon fundraising letter!!". You see, running is where I create and compose; where problems are solved, prayers are said, forgiveness is learned and gratitude is found. And, it's where I find peace and acceptance with my sister's tragic death. My sister, Jodi Ann Sims, took her own life on July 10, 2006.
A few miles into that run, I found that inspiration I had been searching for. It was all right there in front of me; mild temps, sunny blue skies, mountains all around me, not a cloud to be seen. All the blessings in my life easily came to mind; four children I adore, an eighteen year history at a firm that gave me the ability to vacation here and the healthiest heart, legs and lungs; to name just a few. Being happy just seemed so simple My sister had an abundance of blessings in her life as well. Two children, a son & a daughter, a beautiful face & bright mind, a family that loved her unconditionally and a silliness and innocence about her that made everyone she knew smile. How could it be, that being happy was such a challenge for her?
Running, like life, is the glorious albeit sometimes painful act of always moving forward. I often find myself comparing marathoning to life. There are moments when everything feels just perfect, and moments when quitting seems like the only choice. Each require determination, perseverance and passion. Each require will. My sister suffered from mental illness, unable to find the will to live; the will to finish.
On April 16th, I will be running the Boston Marathon in Jodi’s memory. And although it’s too late for me to change her mind and convince her that life really is worth the fight, her spirit will be alive and soaring deep inside me as I make that 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Once again, I’m on a mission to raise much needed funds for a charity I hold near and dear to my heart. The Samaritans, Inc. is a non-profit organization that hopes to alleviate despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in the Greater Boston and Metrowest communities, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. Their services emphasize confidential, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listening. Your support of my fundraising efforts, as always, is greatly appreciated.
It’s my calling; she’s my inspiration. I truly believe that to live in the hearts you leave behind, is not to die. Almost six years later, I continue to find myself inspired to help the Samaritans with their mission to help those searching for a reason to move forward as "My Love Project" continues...
Kimberly Jo Gagnon
Mother, Marathoner, Yogi & Beloved Sister