On October 29, I sent out the same text to a bunch of friends and family. It said:
Kind of suicidal please pray
I had spent a chunk of the morning on the phone with my neuropsychologist stepmom, who had called me after we exchanged a few crisis-riddled text messages, despite her being in the middle of a (no joke) suicide prevention tele-seminar.
I have great friends. They mobilized on many sides to keep me safe that day. For a good part of the late morning, I sat at the park with a circle of earthly angels (and probably spiritual too) around me. I couldn’t really participate in the conversation. Mostly I sat staring into a void of darkness, but I was so grateful that I wasn’t alone.
At lunchtime, one of my angel friends came home with me. While we sat at my table, we talked and cried. Our kids played upstairs. After a while, my daughter came downstairs saying something like, “Mom, we have this movie!” I glanced up to see what she was talking about and noticed that she was holding a plastic Dory bath toy. My friend smiled and said to my daughter [to me], “Yeah! What does Dory say? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” What my friend didn’t know was just how loaded with meaning those words were for me.
Eight years ago my brothers were in a boating accident. One of them survived. My surviving brother had spent the previous years battling severe depression. A lot of that time he was suicidal. But when their boat went down that day, he had a decision to make: Did he want to live or did he want to die? Despite his intense depression, he chose to live. He swam for two hours in water so cold that it should have killed him in thirty minutes (a fate suffered by my other brother and his wife), all the while hearing Dory’s voice in his head: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”
So on October 29, when my daughter carried Dory into the room and my friend started singing to me… “Just keep swimming…” it wasn’t a coincidence. It was so much more than that. It was like God and all the people who love me were saying, “Lani, you are here for a reason, and you need to fight your way to the shore, no matter how hard it is. You will survive this because you have important work to do. Just keep going. Just keep swimming. We know exactly where you are. We got this.”
That afternoon was a huge turning point for me. I kept swimming, and I’m so glad I did.
We’ll be spending this Christmas with my family. Everyone is bringing a gift to the family gift exchange. This home-birthed/up-cycled gift is my contribution: