Once upon a time I despaired of ever having a decent night’s sleep again. I went through two long, separate, periods where babies woke, religiously for the day at 4am.
I was fit for nothing and thought I would never see the end of it.
But of course I did.
Gradually, the light at the end of the tunnel started to look less like a train and more like a ray of hope. Gradually it morphed into that new day and I ran towards it, arms outstretched and gradually, oh so gradually, clawed back some sleep and some me time.
But when I was in *that place* it was very hard to see the light.
Very hard indeed.
These days a midnight wee wee request from a small child is a lot more than manageable and I consider a 6.30am wake-up call a lie on compared to previous times.
On Saturday 11th May 2013, however, I willingly set my alarm clock for precisely 2am.
Because you know, when you need a small person to wake you up, they won’t oblige.
I was setting my alarm in order to make it to the Phoenix Park, Dublin for the 5th annual Pieta House, Preventing Suicide and Self Harm Crisis Centre’s 5k walk/run which took place at 20 locations over the country.
Men, women, and small children of various ages, began to gather as early as 3.30am at their chosen location to remember those gone too soon through suicide.
As part of a crowd, almost ten thousand strong, it was a sobering and very humble experience.
I didn’t chat to anyone there but I have eyes.
Some people had pinned images of their loved ones to the backs of their t-shirts. Couples walked hand in hand and some with their arms wrapped around each other.
At the registration tent, the word “Hope” was spelt out in flickering tea lights and dozens of pictures were pinned to a noticeboard.
In spite of the sombre cause, the mood was upbeat. The weather was cold, it was dark and the rain kept threatening. But nothing was going to stop this crowd.
As we set off the song from the loud speakers to send us on our way was Iz Kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
If you looked behind you, and indeed ahead, a trail of yellow stretched as far as your eye could see. People carried torches and glow sticks in a symbolic gesture and we walked in darkness towards the light.
It was after 4am.
This same week 16 year old Donal Walsh from Kerry lost his battle with cancer. Donal, diagnosed with cancer at the age of 12, was an anti-suicide campaigner who sent a message to his peers with the words, “when times are difficult, reach out, there is help there.”
He is being hailed as someone who has had more impact than any politician.
The ability to help is in us all and there is no doubt that Pieta House are doing great work.
This is the message they put up on their Facebook page today.
I think we could all practice it.
artwork by www.minted.com