As I sat on the ridge of a cliff staring at Mount St. Helens I listened to the wind rush over the valley, the birds sing loudly, and the scampering of a chipmunk through the charred remains of what once was a mighty tree. A tear escape my eye as I watched her; she was majestic, powerful, dangerous, and alive. Despite her disastrous eruption in May 1980, she had created a vast land of beauty that cannot be described with words. Her beauty from disaster has attracted travelers from all over the world.
How absolutely symbolic is it that I traveled to a volcano the week of national suicide prevention; five years ago I embarked on a wretched road that almost proved catastrophic. The twists and turns on the road of his anger, and the potholes that left bruises when I wasn’t careful enough. I knew it was only a matter of time until he detonated. With my life in his hands he erupted, etching his mark of destruction on my body. Now, five years have passed and the remnants of his explosion are only internally bared on the scarce nights I’d rather forget. But I would not change a single moment for I have become the beautiful disaster I am. It is through the long nights of fear, pain, and hopelessness that I have become who I am today.
As national suicide prevention weeks comes to an end, I reflect on the journey I have traveled. I see the nights I cried begging the emptiness surrounding me to give me a reason to stay. I also hear the cries of a man who had seen the horrors of war and wanted to stop the pain, only to find the love of his life three months later. If there is one thing I can tell you, it’s this: IT. GETS. BETTER. It will not be a pretty journey, but just as the volcano gave way to form a beautiful vastness, life will also create something beautiful.