Netflix is buffering and there’s 15:13 left of 13 Reasons Why on the television screen and my heart is heavy in the way that the writers intended it to be. I’m thinking about friendships that have dragged me through dark days in such a way that suicide not once crossed my mind. I’m thinking about friends who have been and are in dark days and I’m not sure what to say or do but there’s something in me that insists that this isn’t all of their story but only a chapter. and that chapters do end but this story that caught my attention is the ending of a girl’s story and it reminds me that sometimes the darkness is so deep and so insidious that people feel they will never escape.
But there’s a moment…
There’s a moment where someone reaches out and it could change another story. It could change someone else’s story and give them a lifeline that they need to move on and see that maybe, maybe there’s more. I don’t know about you but sometimes if I don’t have the perfectly formulated words to speak I won’t speak at all, but what if our muddled up words are the ones that convey love and hope? They won’t make it to a fridge magnet or a picture of a sunset that goes viral on Instagram, but they’ll make a day survivable. They’ll make it a little less lonely.
Can I tell you a story? I’m going to assume permission since you’re reading my writing. I want to tell you about a day when I sat in a hallway and held back tears whilst trying to work out what to do next. I wasn’t sure where I was sleeping and I wasn’t sure what life would look like for the forseeable future.
A friend walked by and asked if I was okay. I told him to get lost. He did as I asked but a little while later called and invited me to have dinner with his family. I remember that night all too well. We sat down and ate chocolate and watched Twilight while he grumbled about glittery vampires and his wife defended the chivalry of Edward Cullen. As the credits rolled, they asked me what was happening and I cried as I told the story and they said this, “We love you. If they don’t want you, we’ll have you.”
And it wasn’t a grand moment – there was Crunch and pizza and Twilight and laughter and tears – but it was a moment that told me that I wasn’t alone and I hadn’t been abandoned and it let me see something of what life could be. I’ve still got wounds that are healing from the days that led to that moment, but these people who had no idea what to say, chose to speak anyway, and chose to be present.
It meant the world to me that day.
So can I encourage you – you who are hurting – to speak even if your voice breaks and to ask for help. Can I implore you – you who have no idea what to say – to speak even if you feel clumsy and to simply be there in those awkward aching moments? Maybe you’ll watch Twilight and eat chocolate or maybe it’ll be something else.
Let’s fight for stories that don’t end too soon. Let’s fight the lie that the darkness will never lift. Let’s fight for each other’s lives, to not simply be survived but to be lived. Let’s fight, because the alternative is to let each other believe that we’re alone. And we’re not.
Please, let’s fight.