It’s hard to believe that over three years have passed since my Ed committed suicide. Sometimes, I still wake up and wonder if it was all a terrible dream, and then I look up at the photos of him on my wall next to my bed and am crushed, hit by the reality that he really is gone. Some days, life just feels so cruel.
I’ve been participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Walk for the last three years, and somehow I’ve managed to raise just shy of $10,000. It’s a bit surreal to think that I was able to do this on my own, without a team, and just with the sad story of my brother. I’ve oftentimes felt discouraged, even annoyed when less people are donating, fewer people are responding or expressing interest in my fundraising or my cause. But like Tony Robbins says, a lot of our disappointments in life are really just because of us, our own expectations. Maybe we shouldn’t expect so much of others. Maybe if we replaced our “expectations” with “appreciation,” we’d be happier people. And when I heard him say this, I realized how true it was. I shouldn’t expect anyone to donate anything; in fact, why the hell should they care about my loss or my pain? What have I done for them (thinking in the quid pro quo train of thought)? But when they do, I should appreciate it. I do appreciate it. I’ve been surprised so many times in the last three years when colleagues I barely speak to have donated insane three-digit amounts, or when old friends I’m only connected to on Facebook but never speak with anymore contribute donations to my drive. There have been a handful of times when complete strangers, touched by the story I’ve written on my page, have felt compelled to donate something even though they’ve never even met me even once. That feeling of surprise and appreciation has been very overwhelming, sometimes catching me off guard and making me lose my train of thought to just bask in the glow of an unexpected person’s unfounded generosity for me and my little cause.
I try to be optimistic about the future. I hope that the world will be a better place for our future children, the future generations of the world. I want the world to be a more open-minded, progressive, caring, and empathetic place. I think about all the bullying and criticism my brother endured as a young child and then through adulthood, from his misguided classmates to his unprofessional teachers to even our own parents, and I physically feel pain in my body thinking of how insignificant he felt throughout the course of his life to finally decide to put a complete end to it all. I need to have hope, if not for myself, then hope in my brother’s memory to help others. And all the support, whether it’s verbal or monetary, through this drive, has really helped drive my optimism and my desire to continue fundraising and to continue sharing my story. As the delusional Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire once said, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Yes, she was delusional living in her own world, but there is some truth in this statement. As human beings, we depend on others being honest and kind to us, even when we are not in the position to do anything to benefit them in return. So many distant people have surprised me in this fundraising journey, and I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I think Ed would agree.