For Lucy and Maggie …
Countless hours spent on the deck discussing the uncertainties of life. Innumerable days of listening to our children giggle, play, fight and cry together. Tears shed watching one another battle the ups and downs of family life in the 21st century. These experiences have made our former neighbors become our dearest friends and confidants. They are our “wolf pack”.
This week, the Henriksens, and their dear friends watched their families bond together once again as they faced yet another frightening event. An event that would forever change the way all ten of us view life and the ambiguity of the world. We will become different people having experienced this sad tragedy.
Our dearest friends’ daughter has known one of the most vivacious, loving, talented and endearing girls for many years. The two girls were kindred spirits at the mere ages of 15 and 16. To the shock of everyone, she took her own life this week. She battled depression for years. Unfortunately, the disease won the strenuous fight. Sadly and despite her suspected perception, young Maggie was never alone.
Most all of us probably know someone whose life has been affected by depression, either directly or indirectly. We may not know that someone is suffering from depression, they may not even know themselves. Two out of three people who struggle with depression never seek help resulting in untreated depression as the leading cause of suicide. In America alone, it’s estimated that 19 million people live with depression, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those 18-24 years old.
Perhaps you have seen the countless photos on social media of outstretched arms with the word “love” scribed on skin and merely thought it some new type of arm art fad. There is a much deeper meaning to these sharpie tattoos.
Renee was a troubled Florida teen. Described as one who “has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide” she at one point used her cocaine-cutting razor to carve “F—k Up” on her arm adding to the other fifty self inflicted scars there. A group of concerned friends finally convinced her to go to a drug treatment center but she was deemed too “high risk” due to her distinctive markings and denied treatment. Fearing for her life, they designed a T-shirt selling drive in hopes of raising enough money to pay for her care. Their experiences led them to realize the greater need beyond just Renee.
Together they organized and formed TWLOHA, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people lost in depression, addiction, self-destruction and suicide. You can read their complete story and Mission Statement here: http://www.twloha.com. Their efforts caught on and went viral. Photos of teens with “Love” on their arms began popping up in dramatic fashion. Famous bands and the Hollywood elite began wearing their trendy T-shirts. “Why do you have that written on your arms?” “What does that T-shirt mean and where can I get one?” All were keen efforts to raise awareness for this cause and show those in need that they are not alone. By metaphorically applying “Love” as a pressure bandage to the self inflicted ugly wounds of the story’s character, this band of persistent friends helped not only Renee, but began to define and fulfill TWLOHA’s vision including:
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.
Lucy, I won’t let this be the end of Maggie’s story either . . .