The first time I remember hearing the word fortitude was in the first month after Ian had passed. Now don’t go thinking my vocabulary is that basic. I learned a few other words in Mr Guetlin’s English class and maybe this was one of them. But my rememberance of the word only goes as far back as 5 months ago. Google defines fortitude as;
Right after Ian’s suicide a meal train was set up for us so we carefully dressed a small garden table on the front porch of our pale yellow house. We swaddled the table with a cloth, potted hydrangeas, and a framed school picture of Ian was draped with the lei’s we wore at his funeral. There was a large blue and white cooler placed next to the table. I am so grateful for that cooler. At dinner time I could be found in the clothes from the day before. Pajamas. Sometimes I was in the same clothes for 3 days. Answering the door was the least of my concerns. I guess showering was too.
One of the Meal Train meals came with a glassybaby called Fortitude. If you know the PNW born company Glassybaby, then you know these little colorful well named glass candle holders are given and collected obsessively. 10% of the proceeds of the sale of this specific votive goes to the glassybaby white light fund focusing on healing people, animals and planet. I know and love everyone of my glassybabys. Fortitude, a soft shade of opaque baby blue, dances carelessly when lit with candlelight and it is my favorite. It shares space on our mantle with Angel, Little Boy Blue, Beach and Ocean.
Fortitude; Courage in Pain and Adversity. The google definition doesn’t feel right, does it? It doesn’t capture the depth of our loss. As it fails miserably describing the amount of strength, courage, grit and gumption we need to function at a bare minimum.
My beautiful friend Mariangela started a portrait project called Faces of Fortitude that Kat Bella and I were a part of this last weekend. The mission for Faces of Fortitude lays a foundation of healing through shared portraits of those personally affected by attempted or completed suicide, and provides a safe, stigma-free space for stories to be shared, voices to be heard and issues to be discussed.
I will tell you that she can capture with her camera what I can’t find words for. With the click of her lens she becomes the facilitator and moderator of love and connection of human stories affected by suicide. If you haven’t seen her project or met her yet. Please take some time to visit her pageFaces of Fortitude.
The portraits speak for themselves, there’s not a written word I can provide that will suffice.