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Classic line from a classic movie: Splash (1984). In this particular scene, Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy) attempts to stop a military convoy chasing Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) and the girl/fish Madison (Darryl Hannah) by standing in the road and raising his only good arm. Walter is unsuccessful and ends up on the side of the road where he utters this famous expression of exasperation “What A Week I am Having!”.

Well, what a week I am having and I mean that in a good way. I started out last Sunday, 9/11/2011, by driving home from my parents house in Wilmington, NC and already dreading the meeting I was to have on Monday afternoon at lunch. I am on the committee for the Out of The Darkness Walk here in Columbia, SC and so far I haven’t done jack s@*t.  Sorry for the curse word, but it is true.  I went to a few meetings missed a few more and all the time I knew what was going on—passive aggressive behavior at it’s best.  The good folks at Wikipedia put this behavior this way:

Passive–aggressive behavior, a personality trait, is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed, resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations.

This can manifest itself in many ways, but for me, it simply came as procrastination. I did not want to do the walk, I did not want to contribute, and I did not want to re-live my past which includes the suicide deaths of both my brothers eleven years apart. So as of 9/11/2011, my donor account had 125 bucks in it and I put in 100 of that. 25 bucks came from another member of the committee who probably tried to inspire me, but it wasn’t working.

So I went to the meeting on Monday the 12th pretty much resigned to go—say nothing—eat a doughnut and leave. Sounds like a plan—my plan, but God had other plans. While I was there I saw a look in the director’s eye that said basically said—help. Everyone at this meeting had some connection to suicide and our director, Helen Pridgen, is no exception. About a decade ago, Helen lost her son to suicide and she, unlike me, decided to get involved and do something about it. Back to her eyes, Helen is blessed with these soft blue eyes that scream compassion and I have been blowing them off for about three years now. Helen and I would meet for lunch every now and then, exchange a few e-mails now and then, and maybe a phone call now and then, but she would never push me into any type of service. She would offer a place to help but never push. The perfect soft-sell artist is Helen. She would always say you will know when you are ready to help, and after this meeting, I thought I was ready.

So I updated my team page and e-mailed it and put it on Facebook, and set the goal for 2,000 dollars. Here is the part I was not ready for—–the outpouring of love, donations, and kind words. Last Sunday I did not want to do this fundraiser and this Sunday night I am raising the goal for the second time. The original goal was 2,000 dollars and that was surpassed in 24 hours, so I raised it to 5, 000 dollars and as of this writing, that goal is now in the rearview mirror of this fundraising effort. That really is unbelievable to me and the list of contributors blows me away every day. The goal is now 7,500 bucks and I plan on raising that before October 16th. That’s the financial aspect of this campaign, let’s now delve into the emotions that come with this effort.

The emotional aspect of this campaign has given me more than money could ever buy. I’ve heard from others who have felt the loss of a loved one from suicide and I’ve heard from people who have contemplated the act themselves. Thank God they came to the conclusion that suicide is not the answer and now are helping me tell others. The stories are real and the nerves are still raw. I had many a talk this week with people that ended with misty eyes and hugs. Who knew so many people have been impacted by suicide? The notes, the e-mails the texts and the calls all have me thinking the same thing…why didn’t I do this sooner? But as my good friend Helen Pridgen said—you will know when you’re ready and thanks to you folks I am ready. We will see where this takes me—right now it’s going to take me to Riverfront Park In Columbia, SC to walk with some other folks who know what a suicide can do to the the loved ones left behind and we will support each other in our healing and try to prevent anyone from joining our future ranks. That would be nice.

Words alone cannot express the profound gratefulness to all who have contributed to this major step for me and the folks at AFSP. Stay tuned…I’m pretty sure our work is not done here. Pretty bold words from a guy just one week ago was thinking about blowing off the meeting. I’m in—or as they say in those poker games–I’m all in, and you folks have made it all possible. Mark and Matt would be proud and I am sure they would agree with me when I say “What a week I am having!”

Dennis Gillan

Author Dennis Gillan

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