Gatekeeping (10th Edition)

by Kathy on May 3, 2013 · 5 comments

in Communication, Coping, Faith, Family, Friends, Gatekeeping, Gratitude, Inspiration, Life, Loss, LTYM, Suicide Prevention

How are you feeling?

What are your plans for tomorrow?

Welcome to the tenth edition of my “Gatekeeping” blog series. I shared the back story of these simple and yet powerful questions in this post.

It’s been seven months since we last did some Gatekeeping here, much too long for sure. I thought about it often, but somehow never got a post together.

I actually started writing this on the morning of Monday, April 15th and then this happened. As with so many in the U.S. I became consumed by following the news and social media coverage in the days and weeks to follow. Tonight I finally returned to finish what I started.

One of the things that inspired me to do this again is that after writing this post for The Today Voice last month, in which I talked about how I would like to meet Kevin Briggs someday, I Googled him for the first time, to see what I could find out about him.

I came across a January 2013 blog entry from Meg Hutchinson’s website, Letter from the Gatekeeper. In Meg’s post she tells about receiving a letter from Kevin and learning that after many years, he finally found out about the song she wrote about his ministry saving lives on the Golden Gate Bridge. I can only imagine what an awesome connection that was for both of them to make.

Meg also included a link to a video in her post, Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge from Yahoo Shine (January 2013), which features an interview with Kevin. Meg explained that when the video went public, one Kevin’s colleagues, from the Marin County Highway Patrol, found her song and told him about it. It was surreal to see what Kevin looks like and hear his voice. I was moved to discover that the number of people Kevin and has likely kept from jumping to their death off of the bridge is closer to 500, than 200. Kevin also shared in the video that of all the people he has talked down over the years, only one has ever gone through with taking their own lives after their discussion that day.

I continue to be wowed by Meg and Kevin’s works of heart.

Meg closed her story about receiving the letter from Kevin with these words,

Life is hard. We often have no idea the kind of private pain the people around us are battling. It is up to all of us to be Gatekeepers, in small ways, for ourselves and the people around us. This is such a reminder to me of the tremendous power that being truly present to each other can have.

So true.

With that, let’s do some Gatekeeping…

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In 2011 I lost two loved ones to suicide. I realize that there is likely nothing I could have done to change the outcome of their lives, but it is something that I struggle with as I continue to work through my grief and try to make peace with these women taking their own lives.

I know that many of us suffer in silence when we are going through difficult and uncertain times in our lives. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I am not asking you to tell me your secrets or your problems, unless you want to of course. But I invite you to check in here periodically (you can also email me or send a Facebook message) and let me know how you are feeling and what plans you may have for tomorrow.

Here’s an excerpt from the post I referenced above called Gatekeepers:

My favorite line in Meg (Hutchinson’s) song (called Gatekeepers) is, “maybe every day, in ordinary ways, we hold each other on, we keep each other here.”

I think that is so profound and it certainly rings true for me.

There have been countless people throughout my life that have been “Gatekeepers” to me. Though I have never seriously considered taking my own life and strongly believe that I will never do so, I have survived some very rough patches where my self-esteem and self-worth were severely challenged. 

I love the idea that in “ordinary ways” we can make extraordinary differences in the journeys of loved ones and even strangers that we meet throughout the course of our day-to-day lives. 

Kevin “the Gatekeeper” Briggs has done so by asking those two simple questions of strangers he has met contemplating jumping (off the Golden Gate Bridge), Meg Hutchinson has done so through her music and song, Bob Edwards has done so with the stories he shares on his radio show and you all have done so for me over the years through your comments here, your caring ways, your love and your support as my readers, fellow bloggers, friends and family members. 

Thank you so very much.

I post “Gatekeeping” blog entries now and then and hope that they present the opportunity for anyone who reads them who is having a hard time coping with challenges they are facing in life to share. That said, you are certainly welcome to comment about the things you are feeling good about too. I believe that being able to recognize and name the things we are grateful for is essential to help us find peace and joy in our lives. That is part of why I love participating in Lori’s monthly Perfect Moment Mondays.

Sometimes it’s the little things than can help keep us a float when we feel like we are drowning. Just knowing that others care and want to know how we are feeling, as well as being able to think about what we might do tomorrow has the power to help us get through tough times.

Thank you for reading. I hope that however you are doing today that you know there are people in your life (I am one of them) who care about how you are feeling and want to know what your plans, hopes and dreams are for tomorrow and the days to come.

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I will start us off by answering the questions myself:

I am feeling… 

Encouraged — I broke through another plateau this week in my quest to shed weight and get back into the shape that I was in before we began IVF in early 2007. I am now only 1 lb. from what I weighed then, but after carrying and giving birth to two babies since, I know my body is not the same, even with the weight loss.

Busy — I am in the processing of transitioning out of some of my volunteer commitments in order to be able to focus more on some new ones, but in the mean time and I am doing all of them!  This week was especially crazy busy as three of my commitments converged, including leading a formation meeting with the CRHP Women’s Retreat Team that I am Co-Spiritual Director for on Monday, helping with First Communion Practice for the 2nd graders at our parish as one of the 2nd grade Religious Education teachers on Tuesday, participating in a MOPS meeting on Thursday at which I am a small group/table leader and speaker coordinator and First Communion coming up at church tomorrow (Saturday)! I have also been doing a lot of work with Team Caring Connection, including fundraising and getting our shirts ordered in time to wear for race day.

Refreshed — I loved the beautiful spring/taste of summer weather we had earlier this week in Chicago! It was so nice to get the windows open and let the fresh air into our home, as well as to spend time outside playing and hanging out with family and neighborhood friends.

Hopeful — My three-year old daughter Abby and my mom both were sick this week, along with other extended family members and friends. They both are now on the mend and I hope and pray they continue to feel better in the days to come.

Prayerful — A number of people I love and care about are going through difficult and uncertain times right now. Some are struggling with their own physical and/or mental health issues and others are dealing with such challenges with their children. I know how hard it can be as a parent when either you and/or your child is not having an easy go of it. I am holding these loved ones close in my thoughts and prayers as they navigate this time in their lives.

Challenged — I absolutely adore my nine year old son and three year old daughter and love being their mom. That said, they are both challenging me a lot lately with various behaviors that I do not always feel confident about how to handle. I am trying and believe that I am raising them well, but it is still hard at times when I feel as if I am failing them when they don’t act as I teach them to. I am reading a lot of parenting books lately, which I am finding helpful and validating. I also realize that just because they do not always behave the ways I wish they would or could, it does not mean that I am not a good mom.

Grateful — As busy and stressed as I have been lately with being over-programmed and dealing with my own personal chronic health issues, I am able to see in the midst of all of this, how blessed and lucky I am to have my overall good health, a husband and children whom I love and adore that feel the same way about me. I continue to love our new home, though after living here almost two years now, it isn’t really that new anymore, and the neighborhood we live in.

Inspired — As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I had intended to share this 2 1/2 weeks ago and then the Bombing at the Boston Marathon occurred and all bets were off. Since then I have been moved and inspired by all the ways people in our nation and around the world have come together, as we always seem to in times of tragedy, to support those touched by the terror and loss that day. I also realize that what happened in Boston is not the only tragedy that took place recently in the U.S. and beyond. As I follow the local and national news, I think about and find comfort in that famous quote from Mr. Rogers which was circulating again in my Social Media channels over the past few weeks about helpers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

My plans for tomorrow/the days to come… 

Tomorrow morning I will be helping out at the First Holy Communion mass at our parish church for my second grade religious education (RE) class, as well as the other second grade RE classes and the second graders from St. Barnabas Catholic School. This will be my third year being a part of this mass and it is always an honor and very moving for me to assist with.

In the afternoon I will be volunteering for an hour at Live, Love Learn – Chicago, an alternative healing expo, representing Beverly Bodyworks Inc. where I teach group fitness classes in our neighborhood.

Then in the evening, my family and I will be going to a good family friend’s birthday party. We always enjoy spending time with this family and their friends, who we usually don’t see often (except for at our friends’ home), but really like hanging out with too! I am looking forward to relaxing and catching up with a well deserved glass of wine and great company!

On Sunday I am going to see Listen to Your Mother – Chicago with some friends. Though it is bittersweet for me, not having been chosen to be part of this year’s cast, I am still really looking forward to seeing the show and supporting my neighborhood friend and fellow blogger Marianne (from We Band of Mothers) who is in the cast, as well as my friends/Chicago area bloggers/LTYM – Chicago producers/cast members Melisa (from Suburban Scrawl) and Tracy (from Just Another Mommy Blog).

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Em May 5, 2013 at 6:34 am

Before having my daughter, I was obsessed with documentaries. I would get them on netflix or at the library. I watched documentaries about everything – scrabble, the Dixie Chicks, World War II, whatever. I started watching a documentary…I think it was called The Bridge…about suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was excruciating to watch…absolutely excruciating. It was the first documentary that I couldn’t finish (and I’ve watched some pretty raw, real stuff about the holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, AIDS, etc). It has forever clouded my view of the Golden Gate Bridge to the point that I never really want to see it in real person again.

I have never heard this story before – the story about Kevin, the Gatekeeper. His two questions are genius. So simple and perfect and exactly what you need to ask someone who is wrestling with the decision of whether to live or die. Reading this small portion of his story reminded me of that Mister Rogers quote that’s been circulating since the Boston bombing – the one about looking for the helpers.

Thanks for sharing this. What a great idea.
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2 Catwoman73 May 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Every Thursday, I post exclusively about gratitude. I post ten things for which I have been grateful in they preceding week. And I do this because if I didn’t, it would be far too easy to get caught up in the challenges that I face every day. Life is tough, but there is a lot of beauty out there as well.

I love those two simple questions. I think that if we all took the time to ask those questions of the people around us, the world would be much less lonely. 🙂
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3 RoseAnn May 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I have commented before about how much your Gatekeeping series has meant to me. It provided the context for me to deal with my mom sharing her suicidal thoughts with me and gave me the tools to keep the conversation with her open and honest.

2 weeks ago, a coworker ended their life. It was not someone I was close to but it shook our entire workplace with the suddenness and so many unanswered questions.

That incident reminded me of the Gatekeeping questions and prompted me to again broach the subject with my mom. I know that I can’t control her actions but I can stay tuned in to her emotional state and be aware of warning signs if she may be having those thoughts again.

Thank you so much for continuing to write these posts. Each one is a reminder to touch base with someone who may need that contact more than we know.

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4 wood fence September 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm

My friend wall is nine inches from his precisely line and he doesn’t preserve this area. This nine inches is trepassing on my property and because it maybe not preserve it deflating my property value until I clear this place myself..

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