Eight years ago I met Rebecca. She had just watched the movie, “The Soloist,” and at the time she was searching for answers for what was going on in her own life. She decided to reach out. In those days, I had a great deal of help in our effort to start The Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation, that story will have to be told in another blogpost. Through the foundation website and phone number, is how she made contact. Her message and number were passed on to me by a foundation employee, so I called.
I could immediately hear the tender sadness in her voice and that she was going through a struggle. I can remember exactly were I was for that first call. I had just gone to withdraw cash from a drive through ATM and drove down the street to a car wash. But when I heard Rebecca’s fragile voice I pulled into the parking lot to focus on what she was saying.
As I mentioned earlier, so many people were willing to help and I initially thought she was calling me for that reason, to offer help. In stead she offered a sacrifice, by sharing a little about her story, which was more help than I anticipated, but was good for me, and right then and there, in that moment she gave me something to carry with me from then on. Which started with, simply listening. She was so open and I could easily tell that was not her norm. I listened intently, yet I would be lying to say that I remembered every word, but I do without a doubt remember the tone of the conversation and the compassion I felt for her and from her. She had compassion and concern for my brother. She did not know him, but she could somewhat relate and had an understanding. Something else I needed at the time, understanding! And I believe that Rebecca felt energized after our talk, I certainly did. Rebecca’s tone had more energy, not much more, but more.
We have kept in touch every since that first call and I have met her Mom, Claire, through a phone call. NO we have not met face-to-face YET, but we have shared our truths and I believe we know each other pretty well. We have even enjoyed morning coffee together by way of texts message and photos! We do enjoy our morning Keurig coffee, in many flavors, as we do our “flavor” to advocate and share.
I have watched Rebecca grow so much with the support of Claire, family members and Valeo Behavioral Health Care (www.valeotopeka.org) MY FRIENDS, Rebecca and Claire an agency that could always use support. She has gone from staying in the background to a budding star Advocate for her community and the world. A while back I had the privilege of speaking with a group at Janseen Pharmaceuticals, in New Jersey. They had an interest in doing a documentary. They are a great company working to make life better for people who deal with mental health challenges. I mentioned to Janssen the names of some exceptional people who I had been in contact with and of course Rebecca was one. She did contribute by sharing her story in the documentary, which is a must see in its entirety. Rebecca has traveled to speak about the documentary and attended several screenings, She has blossomed into a beautiful flower, planting seeds in as many places as she can and now shows very little apprehension, if any at all. Rebecca is also and author who wrote her first published book when she was 18, entitled, “Heart to Heart, A Devotional Book for Teen Girls.” MY FRIENDS, Rebecca and Claire, thank you for inspiring me!
Here are my friend’s Rebecca and Claire, sharing just a little of their story:
Upcoming posts: Nathaniel and Will at NAMI National and The Artist Jerome Lawrence
Thank you, Jennifer, for this amazing story that you have written about how our lives have connected! Rebecca commented as we left the theater after having seen “The Soloist” that she felt her life would never be the same–that something wonderful was going to happen! You helped start her on the road to being an outspoken advocate and for that we truly thank you.
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Claire you have done much more for me, thank you! You both are so dear. Love you! Keep fighting the good fight of faith and let’s help all “Hear The Music!” and “STOPSTiGMA!”