BECAUSE I HAVE TO

Running gives me the space and the quiet that I need to feel and process. Even after all this time, I need to actively manage my pain, trauma, and grief. I am not trying to make sense of it or to be at peace with it - that's not the idea. But, I have to spend time in that darkness. If I don't give myself time and permission to grieve regularly, it will overwhelm me, washing over me like a tidal wave. My mental health and my ability to be a joyful, present friend, wife, and mom depend on finding time on the road.  

 Morning run on the anniversary of my mom's murder, 2016

Morning run on the anniversary of my mom's murder, 2016

IT IS MY PRIVILEGE

When my Mom was murdered, I had a job that gave me a month off with pay. I was fortunate to be able to navigate the state of Virginia's mental health services benefit, reimbursing me for up to $2500 of counseling, and to be able to pay for continuing support on my own, with support from employer-paid health insurance. When my mother's killer was brought to trial, I again was privileged to be in a job with benefits that allowed me to be there every day to bear witness and to be surrounded by a community that also had the time and resources to support my family. 

I can feel every day how important ongoing mental health support has been for me. I run now because I can- and hope to draw attention to my own story and experience - because I want to create more and better supports for other victims of gun violence and their families. While also working to prevent the violence in the first place.