this isn't easy; this isn't clear

Not yet old enough to drive, I sat in the backseat with a friend of mine. It was the first time I had worn all black out of respect and the first time I'd stared loss right in the face. He was someone I knew from the ugly and messy years of junior high school. Ninth grade came, and just as had happened with the start of sixth grade, we went our separate ways. A dividing of friendships into different high schools due to rezoning.

I didn't think of him much. We had shared a few classrooms and maybe some laughs, but there was no deep friendship.

But when I heard that he was gone, I remembered. I remembered sitting in the hallways. I remembered talks by the lockers. I remembered all of it.
You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be. -Chuck Palahniuk
We were sophomores in high school. It's a time in life when everything seems that much harder. It's a time in life when no one understands. Many of us would be lying if we said we hadn't ever thought about it. When people are mean and you cry yourself to sleep and spend hours with a tightness in your chest, it's hard not to think about it.

Life would be better for everyone if I weren't here. Will things ever get better? Why is this so hard? I just don't think I can do it anymore. The thoughts go round and round in young minds. Parents and teachers tell you that it gets better. That this will all pass. And you want to believe the, but it is so hard.

He was on the football team. His letter jacket hanging next to a picture of him. The casket was closed. The funeral was held at the church I had attended Vacation Bible School as a child. It was the same church I decided that I believed in Jesus.

We sat in the balcony, near the back. I don't think I cried, but I could be wrong. I remember the lump in my throat and feeling how overwhelming this all was. We watched the remaining members of the football team walk in with their heads down. They wore letterjackets to remember him by. And his mother following. She was inconsolable.
As anyone who has been close to someone that has committed suicide knows, there is no other pain like that felt after the incident. -Peter Greene
That was my first funeral. I didn't understand it all then. I was only a teenager and still caught up in my own world of frustration and anxiety and crying myself to sleep some nights. But I knew that he was gone. I knew it had been his choice. And I knew he left behind so many people grieving for him, wishing he hadn't left, and wondering what his life would have been like.

It's been about 10 years now. I can remember the whisperings in the hall about his death. The details that were shared. The way people were shocked. Even the cruel jokes some high school students told. I remember the conversations I had with friends and the shock I felt that something like this had happened.

Life might not follow the path I thought it would. But that's because it is life. It is always changing and always moving. Even when it feels like there is no hope, there is. Even when you feel like you are alone, you aren't. When it feels like no one understands, remember that somwhere in the big, beautiful and messy world there is someone who does understand.

We are all connected. Our lives intertwine through the internet, mutual friends, and even the movies we watch. There's something bigger than any of us that holds everything together and keeps every heart beating. There is so much to live for. Even when it is dark and seems like the sun will never shine, there is more to live for. Eventually the sun will rise, and you will be blinded by the brightness.
If you're feeling low, don't despair. The sun has a sinking spell every night, but it comes back up every morning. The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. -Dolly Parton
And that is why I am walking. There are events happening across the country over the course of the next year. One will take place in Oklahoma City on 9/10/11. And I will be there to walk the three to five miles. I will be there to remember those who have been lost, to fight for those who think there is no hope, and to raise awareness of this epidemic. It's time to do something, and while it might not be much for just one person to walk, I know God has huge plans to join many people together and walk for this one cause.

There is the opporunity to donate. I'm hoping to raise $150 at least. But to me the money isn't as important as people joining together for one cause. Understanding of the prevention of suicide is important. Joining together to combat the darkness that plagues so many is important. I'm excited to share this journey with as many as want to walk alongside me (our group is Frontline Youth) or walk in their own cities. All donations will go directly to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Over seven-million dollars has been raised so far. We can end this and remind people that they are loved beyond measure.

(title from "when a heart breaks" by ben rector)

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