This is part of my crew at Midnight Snack–mile 10.1 at the Overnight Walk. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Overnight Walk is a 16 mile trek through a city in support of suicide prevention. We are encouraged to honor the struggles of those who died by suicide, support those who have survived an attempt and raise awareness in general for the topic of suicide.
There are two of these Overnight Walks per year–one on the west coast and one on the east coast. This year, the east coast event was in Washington D.C. West coast was in San Diego.
Our job at midnight snack was to support the walkers. At mile 10.1, it was all about blisters, resting, hydration, bathrooms, food, stories, tears and laughter. We also educate those who walk off the street and want to know what’s going on.
Some brave souls were taking this journey solo inspired by their own sense of purpose, whether that was to honor the loss of a friend or relative or to celebrate their lives after having suffered a suicide attempt.
Once we wrapped up around 3am, which consisted of breaking down tents, stacking folding chairs, emptying trash, packing up medical supplies and all the other paraphernalia. We had leftover food so I cruised the park we were in and shared with the homeless and a couple of guys who were waiting for the car garages to open, having arrived at midnight only to find out the parking deck closed at 11pm and would open at 7am.
We still had a lot left so our crew group toured the city parks with six giant boxes filled with leftover meals and passed them out to the homeless. Then at 4am, we got dropped off at our bus and the clean up crew asked for help filling trucks with chairs, coolers, tents and everything else.
Probably one of the most moving parts of this journey, apart from hearing other peoples stories, is the luminaries at the end of this hike through the city. It’s breathtaking, emotionally overwhelming and healing. It gives us all permission to grieve the loss of someone by suicide and recognize it as a public health issue and not a crime.
What was surprising was the number of seniors taking this journey and the number of people who were walking but had not lost a relative but were there to support a friend or just taking up the cause.
While I did crew which started at 4pm and ended at 4am, my husband did the 16 mile trek with Team Virginia, a top fundraising team. Tired and unwell the next day, I’m glad I did it. Another journey in my path to emotional healing after the loss of my son, Charles, to suicide. It is a loss like no other.