Last weekend, we were on a roadtrip.
A mini vacation to celebrate Matt's birthday, our anniversary and to attend a family wedding.
We arrived a day early to enjoy the city. Little Rock gifted us with perfect weather for exploring, we took full advantage.
While this trip was full of happy and fun times with family, and I brought home many trinkets and treasures from our explorations...there was something more profound that would define this trip and stick with my heart...
We love exploring new cities. And Little Rock was no exception.
One site we enjoyed* (enjoyed being used loosley as it provoked my anxiety) was the pedestrian bridge .
Located just behind the River Market area, it is a unique attraction.
Matt loved the walkable bridge.
And while I love photographing bridges... the lines ...this one made me extra nervous as we walked across its pavement.
My knees felt week and my heart raced. Anxiety gripped me and my imagination ran wild.
I dont like heights, a common fear for people. But what I am unsure of is wether or not people have the same reaction I do? That is... as my hands sweat and the color drains from my face my mind is busy imagining a great fall.
I can not stand near the edge without a tragic scene writing itself before my eyes... perhaps it is the writer in me... always imagining. Regardless, it is terrifying and why I much prefer to enjoy a heights from a safe distance.
(Even recollecting our bridge exploration increases my heart rate)
The next morning, while Matt hiked with his Dad, I spent time with my stepmother-inlaw and my sister in law.
We were in the River Market area browsing the artist booths and tourist shops. I was recounting our adventures from the day before when a rush of sirens & Fire trucks entered the scene.
There was confusion and nervous energy.
It was suddenly clear that a person, was trying to jump off the bridge.
The same bridge that made my knees tremble the day before... the bridge just before my eyes.
About to jump.
Having never witnessed this sort of traumatic experience, I was stunned. I stood in silent shock watching the scene unfold, while repeating in my head "that is a real person"
My heart broke.
It was too real, too tragic.
As I stood there, in the distance surrounded by shoppers and shop keepers at the open market, some completely oblivious to the unfolding narritive, I overheard this conversation:
"what's going on over there?"
"someone's trying to jump off the bridge ... tryin' to commit suicide"
"just trying to get attention, if you ask me"
They continued nonchalantly talking about other similar situations.
I had to wak away.
Their words rung in my ears.
I am so heartbroken. How sad, that we live in a culture where even one person feels the need to go to such extreemes to be seen, to be heard, to get attention.
Is it not a reason to have our hearts break open for each other.
Why do we assume, bystanders, that this is somehow just a crazy stunt for "attention?"
or worse... that someone going to such dramatic extremes to end their life is something to be nonchalantly disscussed in conversation mere yards away?!?
As if wanting to be seen, heard, valued, and loved is some sort of awful trait.
Dont we all crave that? Dont we all seek connection and attention from one another?
Are we not filled with compassion? Can't we see that this is clearly a fellow human who is in need. Someone who is hurting so profoundly that they would go to such extremes?
How can we shift our thoughts and knee jerk reactions to something more loving?
Instead, can we say things like:
"I hope those rescue workers are able to convey love and hope"
"here is a defining moment in another humans story... Let us pray/send love to them and take a concious account of those in our lives that we need to show our love to"
"dont jump, we see you, we hurt for you, we hear your cry! You are enough & YOU MATTER! So please please dont jump, come down from the heights, be welcome and seen among us. You are loved"
I do not know what happened.
It bothers me, not knowing. But it also challenges me.
And my hope, dear reader, is that it challenges you too.
For us, the rest of this particular story will remain unfinished.
We can speculate, and hope but we do not know how the bridge scene ended that day.
Here is what I DO know:
I do not want to be a bystander who passes judgment.
I want to be a person who validates, a person that see's you.
A person that relentlessly and authenticly radiates love. A person who says "dont jump"
I want to inspire others to stand with me, to rise up and raise our voices. To shout and cry and hug and plead one another. "Don't Jump"
I want my heart to beat wildly with compassion and love... not anxiety, not fear.
We are a world full of hurting ones.
We all need to be reminded of our value and our worth.
Let us instill in our hearts bridges. Bridges that cross divides and carry one another over the rivers of pain.
We see you. We love you! You matter! You belong.
I love using words to connect with my fellow humans.