The following remarks were delivered during the suicide prevention walk Saturday at Bend in the Road Beach.

Thirteen years ago I got the horrific news that my father was dead. I can still hear the sound of the emergency vehicle in the background as I was on the phone with my aunt while people were searching for him, and I remember the numbness and confusion that hit after hearing the words, “They found him. He’s gone.”

On that day I lost my father, my family lost a brother, a son, an uncle, and many lost a co-worker or a friend. This community as a whole suffered a great loss as well. But perhaps at this point for me one of the more painful things is my daughter lost her grandfather three years before she was even born. She was robbed of the opportunity to know him before she even had a chance. All the pictures and stories in the world can never come close. They would have absolutely adored each other.

When someone makes the decision to end their own life, they can’t see past the unbearable pain and often the unshakable belief that their life doesn’t matter and the world would be better off without them.

Many of you I know but most I do not but either way, I can guarantee you that your life matters to many people. Even to generations that are yet to be born, your life has significance.

I missed his call that afternoon. I was in a doctor’s appointment. He didn’t leave a message and didn’t answer when I tried to call back. I’ve spent many hours wondering what could have been different if I didn’t miss that call.

He wasn’t perfect and honestly I was upset with him shortly before it happened. I don’t know exactly what was going through his mind when he made his decision. He didn’t leave a note and people who saw him just before he died say he seemed in good spirits.

I imagine inside though he felt overwhelmed with guilt and shame and thought we would be better off without him.

I want to tell you what I would have said to him if I had one last chance, if I really knew how much he was struggling.

You are loved. Despite every quirk or personality trait that you think makes you unlovable, you are truly, unconditionally, immeasurably loved.

It does not matter what you have done, I promise you are not a burden. There are people that want you and need you and your absence would create an emptiness that can not ever be explained or remedied.

There is only one you that has ever been created or ever will be. You are unique and have a purpose to fulfill. Your life matters more than you know.

Whatever pain you are feeling will pass and there is hope. No matter how deep and seemingly inescapable your pain is, you do not face it alone.

I want to thank my sister for having the courage to step out and begin the process of creating this event. It has been phenomenal to watch it come to life.

I know she would agree that while we would rather have our Dad still with us, it’s beautiful to see something positive emerge from such a tragic situation and witness it impact this island and the community he loved so much.

I hope that none of us ever forget this morning as we look around when the light begins to shine on the faces of so many who got up before the break of dawn to gather together and send the message to this community that none of us navigate this life alone.

May the memory of the sun as it begins to peek over the horizon serve as a reminder that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Gina Williams

Oak Bluffs