Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 9, 2012

HAWMC Day Seven: How Do You Thank Someone That Saved Your Life?

Thank You

Today’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge: write about whatever you want. So I decided to write about a topic I’ve been neglecting for awhile, but that I have been reminded of recently. It starts with the question: How do you thank someone that saved your life?

You see on Friday, October 3rd, 2008, I nearly died because of a mental illness I didn’t know I had. I suffered from a postpartum psychotic episode and was extremely lucky that four complete strangers stopped to help me by calling 911. I’ve always wondered, why did THEY decide to stop? What made these four people out of hundreds get involved when they saw a naked woman running on the side of a busy highway during rush hour? But most importantly I wonder, how would I say thank you to these people if I ever found them again?

Once I went public and spoke about my experience at Ignite DC last year, I received so much positive feedback that I started thinking more about finding the people that stopped to help me that day. I didn’t know their names, where they were from, or anything about them really. In order to document the journey of trying to find the people who stopped to help me and say THANK YOU, I created a Facebook page. I try to share new updates in my search in hopes that others will share my story and that it will somehow lead me to my four Good Samaritans. I did get some initial traction when an acquaintance connected me with a reporter for the Washington Post, Tom Jackman, who ended up writing an article about my experience for his blog, “The State of NoVa”. I also was able to obtain the audio files of the 911 calls that were made that day to try and help me. Of course, I ended up in tears listening to them. I was just so thankful that so many people, complete strangers, took the time to care about another person who was in trouble. On one of the calls, I learned that one of the men who stopped was named, “James” and that he and his sister were from Richmond, VA. I even got a cell phone #, but by the time Tom Jackman tried the number to reach James, it was no longer working and just rang repeatedly with no answer. What seemed like such a good lead, turned into another dead end.

When I thought I might actually be able talk to two of the people who stopped to help me, I got nervous. I wondered if they would remember me (although I think most people would remember stopping for a naked woman running on the side of the road). I wondered if they would want to talk to me and potentially meet me or if that would make them uncomfortable. But most of all, I wondered if I would find the right words to express how extremely grateful I was that they stopped at the exact moment they did. I was running on a bridge and was extremely delusional at the time. A few minutes longer…and well….I don’t like to go there very often. I think when the time comes, I will be able to share with them the impact their quick thinking and action has had on me and my family. Just the opportunity to share the simple words, “THANK YOU” with them would mean the world to me.

To learn more about the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, visit the WEGO Health Blog.

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