A Dime for your Thoughts by Christy Heitger-Ewing
“Where are you, Mom?” I whispered into the wind. “I need to feel you, but I don’t know where to find you.”
As I waited for the opening ceremony to begin, I felt a light tap on my shoulder.
My mother and I were best friends. She understood me in a way no one else ever could. She comforted me no matter how heavy the world seemed at any given moment. Her hug, hearty laugh and tasty homemade honey wheat bread were all sprinkles of magic that lit up my world and made it worth living. So when my precious mom slid into the depths of clinical depression – a vicious monster that snuffed out her life, for a good long while I felt like my own life was snuffed out, too. Flattened by grief, I struggled to breathe, to move, to function. As the months passed, I took baby steps forward, but an insatiable emptiness still consumed me. I wanted to feel her presence so that I could inhale a moment of peace. But try as I might, her presence wasn’t there.
“Hi. I’m Deb,” a 50-something bubbly brunette said. “Is this your first Overnight?”
One day I came across the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), an organization that raises awareness about suicide prevention programs. Each year they hold an overnight event in which participants walk 18 miles through the night to represent the darkness those feel who are suffering with clinical depression. This Out of the Darkness walk starts at sunset and concludes at the break of dawn to signify the importance of bringing the stigma of mental illness out of the dark so that those suffering can feel safe seeking help. “Maybe if I do this walk, I’ll connect with Mom,” I thought. Plus, it would be a chance to meet others who had lost a loved one to suicide. Several months later, armed with my decorated luminary bag that was covered with photos of me and Mom, I flew across the country to participate in the walk. At registration, participants dropped their luminaries with the AFSP staff, who, during the night, lit them and set them out along the path to the finish line. Participants then reunite with their luminary at the event’s completion. I envisioned returning from the walk, finding Mom’s luminary, kneeling beside it and feeling an immediate connection. That’s what I wanted. 8 That’s why I came.
“Yeah,” I replied, reaching out my hand. “I’m Christy.” “Are you walking alone?” she asked. I nodded. I must have looked like a lost puppy. “Why don’t you join me?” she offered. As Deb and I ticked off the miles, we exchanged stories about our losses. I learned that Deb’s daughter, Liz, had taken her life five years earlier when she was just 18. I told her about Mom and how much she meant to me. Deb had lost her only daughter. I had lost my only mother. We bonded over shared grief. At mile marker 6, the skies opened up, as did our hearts. “Mom and I were so close,” I told Deb. “When she died, I lost my confidant.” “It was the same with me and Liz,” Deb said. “Life forever changed.” “Do you still feel her with you?” I asked. “Yeah,” Deb replied. “How so? Do you get signs from her that indicate she’s trying to communicate with you?” “I do. Have you ever heard of Dimes from Heaven?” I shook my head. “Finding dimes is a common sign from a spirit that shows validation that we’re on the right path. It’s their way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m still here!’” Deb