Weathering the Storm: Hurricane Florence and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

My best friend Lindsay would have turned 37 this week. She also would have embraced every witty Hurricane Florence reference. This is because behind the scenes, Lin’s mother was known to us as the red-leather Thriller jacket-wearing “Sister Mary Florence.” Hence the  jokes would be flo-ing (see what I did there?). Even as NC faces destruction, Lin would have us smiling, reminding us that weathering the storm together is what matters most.

This summer, I organized a few high school memory boxes and found all the notes and cards Lin gave me. It was odd premonition that I kept them, but on the other hand, it was no surprise, as she’d been a consistent source of encouragement since I was a friendless middle schooler in 1992.  She and Kate were the first to embrace me, cracking open their partnership to make room for a renegade 3rd wheel. The three of us were inseparable.

For seven years I’ve been writing posts about her suicide. Each year, I approach it with more heartache, because it means one more year has passed without her. Lindsay’s death was driven further home with my own mother’s death last August. Mom’s life-long severe depression and suicide attempts caused me to review my own life, too, as each loss is a missing piece of identity: who are we without the people who gave witness to our lives from their beginnings?

I also imagine what society has missed without its Lindsay K. Apple. At 29, she already had the world by the tail. What heights would she have reached by now? How would her already tremendous impact have spread? Would she have had a daughter as funny and brilliant as she was? A life cut short by pain has its own perpetuity of “what ifs.”

But then I remember what Lindsay continues to accomplish—even after her death. She’s brought friends and family together through a narrative that champions a cause that not only affected her—but is real for every community, regardless of location, race, religion, or politics.

Lin’s suicide, too, was on the cusp of an era in which our very public social media profiles actually increase our risk of loneliness and isolation, an oxymoron we’ve yet to fully grasp. And yet, those same platforms can be life-saving—because they offer us an outlet to reach out at 24/7, because someone, somewhere, is watching and listening.

September is suicide prevention month; Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Every day, every week, every month, and every year, too many people—some we know well; others who occupied a public, celebrity status—die from a cause that is preventable. From our children, siblings, parents, other family members or friends—to our role models—we all know someone (directly or indirectly) who has committed suicide.

A bookmark made by Lindsay and gave me on my 18th birthday.

Lindsay’s sunshine lives on in us and in mystical ways in which we cannot fully understand. Though she is not physically here with us, neither is her light hidden from us. It helps us weather even the toughest of storms.

Do you know someone who needs an ear? Listen. Do you know someone who could benefit from suicide prevention resources? Help them call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

We can all make a difference—in honor of Lindsay and many others who felt they had no choice. Join me in supporting “Team Loving Lindsay” in their annual Triad American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “Out of Darkness” community walk on September 22, 2018. Donate today. 

 

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