Kelsey Hoeper,  Elyssa's Mission Volunteer

Kelsey Hoeper,
Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer

Kelsey Hoeper is an Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer. Kelsey shares her journey of discovering how reflecting on the “thousands of things” around her helps her to feel more connected and grounded.

The morning was dreary. And I was alone. I wrapped myself in a large scarf to cover the parts of my face that I thought could disclose anything; hiding myself inside a large sweater. Unfeeling and numb? Yes. But I also felt everything.

My college roommates all had plans that Saturday. Camille was with her sorority sisters at a charity event. Mickey was at a movie with her boyfriend. And Emmi was partying with her friends from her study group. I loved them all, but I needed to be away.

I boarded a train to the next town over with only a vague idea of where I was going. I would get a coffee. No cream and no sugar. Maybe go shopping. Neither thing happened. Instead I wandered. After what only seemed like a few steps, I sat on a bench for a long time watching the express trains fly past me. And I wondered what it would feel like to leave this world at the hands of a metal train. Quick contact. And it would be over. The thought terrified me, and it comforted me. Then, the comfort terrified me more. My body did not leave that bench until I decided to stand on the edge. There was no one else on the platform. I saw a train in the distance. The horn echoed quietly and shuttered through the buildings around me. The eye of the headlights spotted me. I did not move, stepping back only when an older woman appeared nearby and eyed me curiously. I thanked this woman in my head. I thanked her a thousand times.

This was not the first time. Two weeks before I poured a handful of pills into my open mouth. Let them soften inside my cheeks before I spit everything out. Some time later, I poured Advil onto the face of my desk. I gazed over them, felt them; but I left them there. Emmi came into the room and fell silent. She asked me about the pills. And I thanked her, silently, a thousand times over.

How many times I thanked someone and something: countless. Mom, dad, best friend, coach. I thanked the bed I slept in; it held me in my discomfort. I thanked the trees outside my window. They whistled at me in the springtime to come outside and breathe the air. These were the moments of clarity, and they arrived like that train I wanted to put directly in my way—right in front of me and through me. See, they arrived by distance—but then speeding up to meet me. I realized that time alone couldn’t offer what I so greatly desired. Time helped, of course. It always does. But I was looking for someone to reach through to me. An easy visual, yes. But I pushed people away. I was skeptical. I felt like I couldn’t escape the gnawing, yet oddly quiet being that used to guide me. There were days when I asked myself, “Who am I? I used to be an adventurous, carefree child. I played pretend. I painted. I had two parents who love me. There were people in my life that cared—and still care for me. How? When?” Nothing has changed, I told myself. Nothing has changed. And yet, everything was different. A thousand changes. Beautiful changes. Small changes and big changes. How gorgeous. How amazing.

When you are feeling alone, count the thousands of things around you. They will hold you and they will ground you. When you are punctured with sadness, count the thousands of reasons why you are the most important person you know. And align yourself with the stars.