Yesterday, after weeks of fighting off a pretty nasty chest infection, my diabetes couldn’t hold out any more. On my GP’s advice, I made my way to the hospital for some help fighting the inevitable battle of diabetes versus infection. I know what I’m meant to do when it flares up, but sometimes, despite my best efforts, I still need help from professionals.
As my husband and I drove to the emergency department, we encountered a police barricade on a major road near our house. At first we thought it might be a random breath test set up, as it was a public holiday in Melbourne. But soon we realised the police were in fact redirecting the traffic to an alternate route. As we inched closer to the front of the barricade, I looked up and saw someone on the wrong side of the railing on the footbridge above the road. It looked as if this person was threatening to jump.
With my eyesight being poor at the best of times, I had to double check, that even with my glasses on, this was indeed a situation unfolding right before my eyes.
We turned onto the alternate route and continued on our way, and for the next ten minutes I silently prayed for that person on the bridge.
A whole range of thoughts ran through my mind as I prayed; what would drive a person to that point? Was it a cry for attention? I felt shame that admittedly, that was my first conclusion. As I dissected my thoughts, I came to the one conclusion that it didn’t matter why that person was up there, all that mattered was what would happen after they were safely taken down.
It hurts my heart on a deep level to admit that there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people in this life who feel that they have no choice but to end their lives to stop the pain they feel. It hurts my heart to think that there are millions more who would, like me, jump to a conclusion that it was some attention seeking endeavour rather than a genuine cry for help. I sat in the car feeling helpless, playing through scenarios of what I might say if I ever encountered that situation and had to help someone down from their ledge.
It was not lost on me that I was on my own ledge as we drove to the hospital; tired, beaten down, exhausted and weak to the point of not having any fight left in me. In no way am I comparing my woes to the person on the bridge, but it’s all the same in the end. People have breaking points, and so many of us don’t have anywhere to turn when we reach ours.
I thought a lot about that person all night as I lay in my hospital bed. I wondered how they were doing, what ended up happening, what would be next for them, and I prayed that help would be found for them. True help. Help that changes their path and helps them heal. Help that empowers them to fix whatever their circumstances were that lead them to be dangling off that bridge in the first place.
I wanted to tell that person my stories. My journeys. I wanted them to know the thousands of ways I’ve been saved. I wanted them to find the same resolve I have; to be determined to live, no matter how much this world tells you to die.
And most of all I wanted to tell that person I was sorry for their pain, and that their life mattered.
I did not get that chance, but I have one here.
So to you: person in pain so deep you can’t breathe.
To you: one who feels like you can’t keep going.
To the one who has nothing left.
To the person who feels like their life doesn’t matter.
I want you to know, it does.
Please don’t give up. Life is hard but the beauty it gives is so worth the fight. Pick up your sword. Fight.
And if you can’t, ask someone to help you.