The bond we all share is amazing. I met a wonderful woman at the Airport who lived 10 minutes from me, yet we had never met before. We had so much in common and talked the whole way there. She lost her daughter to ED several years ago, but yet she shows up twice a year and lobbies. Her energy and advocacy is amazing. I now consider her my friend.
Meeting everyone at the March was overwhelming and amazing all at once. Many I recognized right away, some I had to be reminded who they were. We all hugged, shared stories and bonded. There was dancing, speeches, advocacy and of course we had fun and truly connected. To hear Patrick Kennedy speak about all the struggles we have had with such elegancy and truth was shocking. It was like he was telling our story, but we all know; it is all of our stories. We all have a story, so many similarities but yet so different and at different places in the journey. I grieved for the lost angels and vowed to fight harder so no one else needs to experience this. The reception after the March was another great time to connect. To be sitting in a hotel lounge, sharing food, drinks and conversation with so many people and everyone GETS IT. No matter what was said, there was no judgment, just general concern and compassion. No one minces words and steps around anything that needs to be done, to get a loved one to the next step.
Lobby day was another great experience. I was put in a group with other Wisconsinites. None of us had met before, yet we all connected and worked together throughout the day. Two in our group had lost their loved ones, two were recovered, and two of us had children in various stages of recovery. Every staffer we met with was courtesy, engaging, and generally seemed to care and wanted to hear our stories. To be walking around the halls of Congress and House of Representatives and all the beautiful architecture and history amongst us was breathtaking. Every staffer said the same thing, "Our representatives want to hear from us, ask them to support the Anna Westin Act, tell them your story." I do plan to follow up with each one of them to remind them we need their support so all can have access to treatment with quality professionals. Will I go back? Absolutely, change is needed and we can make a difference. No more green shirts.