At the reception with all those fancy shmancy people (corporate donors, upper management), regional directors along with counsellors, colleagues and volunteers, I was feeling pretty calm. I was allowed a guest, so I had invited a long time, former colleague and friend, Kelly, who I had not seen in years! I was pleased to have her “witness” this moment with me. It was also great to have my best friend and colleague, Maria, receive this honour with me too! There could not be a more perfect evening than this!…until…
It was especially wonderful getting to talk to a volunteer who also was recipient for this honorable award. How she touched my heart! Her daughter had been bullied A LOT and she had taken her life! I felt an imaginary boxing glove sock it to me right in the solar plexus and then tears started filling my eyes. I remember the series of suicides in that area of the country 2+ years ago. It had impacted me the most in my entire career working on this youth line. What struck me were the stories shared in the media and how I had recognized one youth as a teen to whom I had spoken…I felt so guilty and powerless.
Now here I was facing this amazing woman, grief-stricken mother, and volunteer who goes to schools to talk about bullying and spread the word to get help and not take your life. I told her I remember speaking to a girl at that time and how sad I had felt. She just smiled and tried to comfort ME! She kept thanking me for doing the wonderful work that we do on this youth line.
This wonderful woman…this amazing soul, mother, angel of grace deserved this medal more than she can ever know! She has shared her story month after month…she has spread the word that our youth line is an option and she has saved so many youths from taking their lives…so much more than she will ever know. How fitting that SHE received such an honour…The Great Spirit has created some amazing angels of mercy …Pam, this amazing woman and her daughter, Jenna who continues to be a part of that important message…Don’t ever give up…there is help.
And so when I received this medal, I opened the box and looked at the medal and tears welled up again. I noticed how it resembled my step-father’s medal he received from the army for having fought in World War II. And I…an ordinary person like me who did nothing extraordinary was holding this medal in my hand now! How my step-father and Mom would have been proud of me today!
My thoughts went back to Pam and her extraordinary courage for sharing her story with youths day after day despite the pain it must bring to her. How I feel honoured and thankful to have met this woman. For over 2 years I have carried this guilt and fear whenever I get a similar call nowadays. I had not realized how much I had been moved by this tragedy.
If it had not been for my having this opportunity to go up to Toronto, thank you Kathy, to receive this medal…thank you Kids Help Phone, I would never had met this outstanding person, Pam…I accept this Diamond Jubilee medal in honour of your Jenna. Thank you!
© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, June 6, 2013