I put a new item in my special box this week. In my younger years it was filled with an eccentric assortment of essentially valueless keepsakes that I wasn’t quite willing to discard. But then a few years ago, on a lonely Saturday afternoon, I revived my special box. I had an overwhelming need that day to have a tangible place to hold the priceless pieces of my heart. Every memento not just a memory but an encouragement to my soul. Each item a unique embodiment of God’s love, grace, goodness, kindness and healing power. And most specially, answered prayers and hope.
I was just about to throw the bracelet in the garbage along with the other unwanted items I had received in my swag bag. But God closed my hand around it. I glanced down and read the word engraved on the bracelet. UNSTOPPABLE. And a lump formed in my throat. You know, the kind that holds drops of water in place to keep them from leaking onto your cheeks. Because, indeed, the magnitude of what this bracelet represented flooded my soul with tears of gratitude and awe.
Unstoppable. This was the slogan for the 2020 Run for Women sponsored by the LOVE YOU by Shopper’s Drug Mart program which raises money for women’s mental health supports across Canada. And why this is significant is that my daughter Kristen, gifted in the art of persuasion, was somehow able to convince me to form a team with her and register as a participant in the 5km walk in Winnipeg this year.
At the time we registered in February, the event was scheduled for May with hundreds of participants gathering to walk or run together. I had never been involved in something of this magnitude. The idea both intrigued and frightened me. Normally this is something I would support but generally talk myself out of doing because so many pieces would lie outside of, or at least straddle, the perimeter of my comfort zone. Much simpler to write a cheque.
Only it wasn’t. Not with my daughter expectantly waiting for me to share her excitement and desire to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. Not with the conviction in my spirit to support her in every way possible through her own mental health struggles. Not when I recognized how truly momentous registering in this walk was for her. Of course I said yes. I might have even smiled as I said it.
We registered. We created a team name: The Marvellous McLeans. We took a team photo. (Which involved more persuasion for my participation than the walk itself.) And then COVID-19 hit, the May walk date was cancelled, and the fate of the large group event became uncertain. Admittedly, I was a tad relieved.
And then the first virtual Run for Women was announced for September. I was still in it. And as Kristen does when she commits herself to anything, she passionately dove right into fundraising for this cause that belonged to her. To us. And to the many people who care about her and our family and continue to help Kristen fight for her life. Thank you to all of you! Out of the 1,441 registered Winnipeg participants, Kristen was the fourth highest individual fundraiser and our team the third.
Because the walk was now virtual, we had the opportunity to choose our own route and use an app to track our distance and time. On Saturday, September 20, 2020, Kristen and I dressed in our matching baby blue Unstoppable T-Shirts, grabbed our water bottles and camera, and chose our route in the Bird’s Hill Provincial Park.
It was a very different experience than the high energy event for which we had originally registered. And that was okay. It was good. This quiet, reflective, peaceful day with my daughter on the hiking trails nurtured my soul. It was an accomplishment. A celebration. A one year anniversary of courage and hope.
It was last September that Kristen had planned her suicide. Last September when we suddenly became immersed in navigating the mental health system seeking support and help for her and our family. Last September when it took all our energy to get through the day before us. My hope for the future simply to make it through the next day with a little less heaviness in my heart. And a lot less suffering in Kristen’s.
It is a year later. My precious, brave, inspiring daughter is alive. She still struggles with aspects of her mental health, but she is learning to overcome the challenges. And now as she continues her path of healing and recovery by sharing her story, she is making a difference where she is. I am proud of Kristen. I am deeply grateful for the people and resources God has wondrously and graciously provided to my daughter over the last year. She is doing hard things. She is doing good things.
Because God is UNSTOPPABLE! And that is the best team to be on.