A week from today – June 7th – will be the 10th anniversary of my first date with Tony. We met online, but June 7th was our first in-person meeting. Our first dinner together. Our first kiss.
Some of you who know me know that Tony’s 43rd birthday was less than a month after he died. On that day, I, my sisters, my mother, my nieces and nephews, and friends and family and acquaintances and strangers on six continents went out into the world and tried to make it a kinder place. People did all sorts of things. Here in Seattle, we went to a Laundromat and left bags with a Tide pod and enough change for a load of laundry in each one. My nieces and younger nephew made cards, and we delivered them to a nursing home. We donated two screenwriting books that Tony liked to the local library. We brought cookies and coffee to the firehouse. We gave out Starbucks cards. We went into ladies’ dressing rooms and put up signs on the mirrors that said, “You are beautiful.” We donated cat toys and treats to a local animal shelter. I made a donation to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and my sister Laura made one to It Gets Better.
In San Diego and Boston and Great Britain and Germany and Ethiopia and Bahrain and Japan and China and so many other places, people celebrated Tony’s life by helping others. It made what could have been a truly terrible day one that, while sad, was full of too many blessings to count. It saved me.
Next Friday we’re going to do it again. I invite anybody who is reading to participate, whether you knew Tony or not, whether you’ve lost someone to suicide or not. I ask you to do it because kindness is contagious. Most of the time, Tony felt that the world was not a kind place; that people were not kind and that there was no kindness for him. He wasn’t right, of course; he was viewing everything through the skewed lens of depression and mental illness, and he couldn’t see the kindness and goodness that was all around him.
Right now, there are millions of people like Tony out there. People who have depression, people who are thinking about suicide. They’re not wearing signs on their foreheads, but they are out there. What can you do to help them see the world as it truly is? I saw, time and again, Tony’s reaction when he would see, really SEE, an act of kindness. It lit him up. He had a hard time holding on to that hope, but he felt it. To do this, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. You don’t need to spend any. It can be as simple as smiling more, holding the door for someone, letting a mom with little kids go in front of you in the checkout line. You could make time to have lunch with a friend, or buy lunch for someone who can’t afford it. If you’re inclined to make a donation, here is a list of links:
The idea behind this project is to remember Tony. I probably will not talk about his death with most people. After all, the idea behind this particular project is to brighten people’s days. Awareness is something I’m very concerned with, but that will happen in other ways.
Friday June 7th. Let’s make the world a kinder place.