Every life is a gift.
Less than a year ago, I was deeply affected by the news that a local, young woman had taken her own life at the age of thirty. I didn’t know her personally or any other member of her family at that time. Still, I experienced an ache in my heart that I couldn’t fully explain. I was consumed with thoughts of her, but there were no words to adequately express all that I was feeling. Typically when I hear of a tragedy or other sad news, my response is to pray for God’s love to enfold all those involved and soon after, I am able to easily return to a state of inner peace knowing that I have done all that I possibly could. This was not the case.
I continued to pray for this woman and her family, but I still could not release the sadness that I felt. In the weeks that followed, it seemed that I was drawn to people who knew her well. They each said essentially the same things, that “she was a beautiful person,” “she was the life of the party,” “she always had a kind word to say.” So, I was left with many questions.
Many months later it occurred to me that for much of my own life, I had successfully hidden behind a smile, doing whatever I could to be pleasing to others, even while I was carrying much hurt inside. In this way, I was not much different from this young woman.
Sometimes the prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets; the prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain. –Author Unknown
I had planned to talk about the “loneliness” of pain at a book signing shortly after the release of my first book and share how this young woman’s death had given me greater insight into my own tendency to hide painful emotions. It had become clear to me how the pain she may have been experiencing had gone unnoticed. Many of us bury our emotions without realizing how much of an effect they have on us. My intention was to encourage others to take the time to explore their inner world, be true to whatever they are feeling, and seek out persons or groups who could offer guidance in the areas of their lives that require healing.
There are no chance encounters.
What I did not expect is that this young woman’s mother would attend my book signing. We were introduced before I did my presentation and I immediately recognized her last name. For a brief moment, I considered discussing a different theme from my book. But something within me said to just ask if she would be okay with me sharing all this and she was very gracious in allowing me to do so.
About a week later, I received a beautiful note from another family member, thanking me for “being so great” with her mom. She also shared other similarities between her sister and me. I was deeply touched by this note and felt called to reach out to others in need of support. Sometimes, we just need to know that someone cares. So, I googled suicide prevention and came across the Samaritans, a befriending group whose mission is to alleviate despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings.
I scheduled a meeting to learn about volunteer opportunities although I sensed that it would be difficult to add another firm commitment to my schedule. A few days prior to the meeting, I was driving back from
, which is a nearby town where one of the Samaritans’ call centers is located. Again, I began to have doubts about whether I should keep the meeting, considering all my other commitments. At this moment, the traffic was slowing and I looked over to my right. Alongside the road was a sign that read, Call the Samaritans, Volunteers Needed. I have traveled this road many times before and not once have I ever noticed this sign. The message was clear so I kept the meeting. Framingham
As I met with the Director of the program, it quickly became clear to me that I could not fulfill all of the volunteer requirements. So why was I led here? I asked. Maybe I’m meant to pass on the information about support groups for persons impacted by suicide loss, I thought or at the very least, help in the efforts to increase awareness about this organization. Soon after, the insight came to write a book with practical steps on how to recognize the gift that you are—even in times of much uncertainty.
I recognize that my life has been filled with God’s loving grace and that is what compels me to help others in their journey of physical, emotional and spiritual healing. You Are A Gift is the title of this healing guidebook. It is being written with teenagers and young adults in mind, as well as others who may not already recognize their inherent greatness or who are struggling to find meaning in their lives.
We are all meant to be here in this world. It is through our connections with each other that we come to recognize our capacity to love and share in God’s love. My dream is for us all to evolve to a place of living life connected to the heart of who we truly are and teach our children to do the same. It is with this intention that I write.
Invitation: I invite you to take a look at your life. Where have your experiences been leading you? Are you living the life that you are meant to live?
It is never too late to begin living the life you are meant to live. In his book, Something Somebody Stole, Ray Connolly writes about an interview on National Public Radio with a man who was just shy of turning 80 and finally retiring from playing piano at a Manhattan hotel. His response to the question about his retirement, "I'm going to have my eightieth birthday in a few months. I thought it would be a good time to stop and think about what I want to do with my life."
Love and Blessings,
Kathleen O'Malley, DC
Love and Blessings,
Kathleen O'Malley, DC