It is December 6th as I write this, 9 days until the completion of this crazy adventure. I am a little less than 9 miles from “the finish line”. I swam 29.6 miles in November; not too shabby! My life is in a bit of a whirlwind as I run from the pool to work, to local businesses to my computer as I ask for local media to cover the fundraiser to try to get people to attend. The tag line “Just keep swimming” has never been more appropriate than now! I walked into the club this morning to see the sign for the “Katelyn Ann Fennig Memorial Swim” with the announcement that the pool would be closed for an hour next Saturday morning. I was filled with a mix of pride and sadness as I am SO glad it is done, and that I have done it in her name. But, yet AGAIN, my heart is overwhelmed with unspeakable sadness that she is gone. I don’t think that feeling will ever leave. I can’t believe that it has been over 8 1/2 years. I didn’t think my heart would beat past Day 1.
For the parents who’ve never lost a child, or for the people who’ve never lost anyone to suicide, I hope you ALL show up to this fundraiser or contribute in support of my effort. I’ve given money over the years to charities like the American Cancer Society and the Hunger Task Force, simply out of gratitude for and recognition of what I HAVEN’T suffered. It truly is “but for the Grace of God go I” in this life. We never know what waits around the corner for us. I truly never would have known that I would spend a good part of my life not watching my child grow into adulthood and enjoy seeing what her 20s, 30s and beyond would be like. This thing, SUICIDE is a pariah that we know very little about, like a thief in the night. As much as I teach about it in the community as a volunteer and have devoted my career as a nurse practitioner to mental health, there is so MUCH that still needs to be done. We NEED programs like Hope Squad and Sources of Strength in the schools to help our kids.
Not to go all Smokey Bear or anything, but really, only YOU can help ME prevent SUICIDE in this situation. Won’t you?