An extremely difficult journey

Glazerite’s John Hewitt is currently preparing for a mammoth charity bike ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End with a team of cyclists. Reproduced here is an email he sent to the other riders and support crew explaining the motivation behind his actions.

As the days start counting down to the start of Kelly’s Heroes, and faster now it seems, I remember back to how the idea of this ride came about and the precious reasons why we’re doing it.

Losing someone you love is the worst time for anyone, losing your child is on a different level and never ending. That bundle of joy I helped bring in to this world, nurtured, guided and tried to protect, so cruelly snatched away at the start of such a promising life, means I failed as a Dad. I could have protected her and I should have saved her from all the bad things that took her from us.

I can’t even begin to describe the pain of losing her, of seeing her laying there in the hospital, the last kiss goodbye before they sealed her coffin or the last walk down the aisle that should have one day been a wedding but ended as a funeral.

The biggest motivation for doing this ride was pain; pain I felt and pain I wanted to put myself through. Kelly left this world thinking I didn’t love her but she could not have been further from the truth. I tried to get her to listen but she wouldn’t. I worshipped her just as I do Amy, and I would lay down my life for my girls like any father would but the job, the so-called friends at work, and clearly the illness had taken hold of her and she wasn’t listening to me or anyone else.

Could I have tried harder? Definitely. Would she have listened? We’ll never know. It’s unlikely but still I wanted to do this ride to punish and hurt myself as my way of showing my love for her.

As the months of training took hold, the dark winter days in the gym and the garage and the subsequent days out on the road as spring and then summer came, a new perspective took hold. Sure I still want to hurt and punish myself, I still want to show her how much I love her, miss her, but I can do all that sat at home in a chair or lying in bed in the middle of the night mentally torturing myself like I have done and no doubt will continue to do for the rest of my life, but what I’ve come to realise more recently is the sad fact that, for most of us, life goes on.

Not the most pleasant of phrases, but a stone cold fact of life that it does, and nothing I do to myself either physically or mentally is bringing her back to her family and friends.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the training as painful and tough as it’s been but the motivation has shifted, or should I say broadened. I still need to do this for Kelly to show her how much I love her but for me, and no doubt you guys too, this is very much about all those people struggling on a daily basis to even carry out basic functions like getting up and getting dressed. It’s about sending a message to people that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, there is help there for you.

A well-used phrase lately but again one that’s so true: it is okay and there are people desperate to help.

Everyone that knows me knows I’ve not been okay since Kelly passed away and I’ve never been afraid to tell people that or indeed show it. I’ve cried in the house, the car, the supermarket. I’ve cried giving talks to adults and kids and just lately I’ve cried training on the bike for mile after mile. I’ve cried because I care. I care about losing Kelly and the fact that no one has accepted responsibility. I care about Kelly’s family and her friends but I also care about other people I don’t even know. Other people yet to attempt suicide. People that don’t deserve to be going through what they’re experiencing right now and the families and friends concerned for them. I care about the next generations of kids, grand kids and great grand kids, and what things will be like for them now as this mental health time bomb explodes. They’re the ones that will ultimately be paying the price for our and previous generations lack of understanding, compassion or, worse still, complete ignorance on the subject.

At the end of the day, when we start on this incredible and extremely difficult journey, as well as honouring loved ones, we’re riding to help save lives. Lives that could be lost because people have lost all faith or hope, and lives that could be ruined by the ripple effect of losing a loved one to suicide. I don’t want other families to have to go through what we are.

I’m extremely proud and grateful to each and every one of you for joining me on this epic journey. It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster full of fun, pain, laughter and no doubt a lot of tears but what we experience will only be a fraction of what some people go through every single day, and remember two weeks after we start, any pain we have will soon be forgotten.

I’m sure I speak for you all when I say to date this has been life changing for so many reasons but now is the time to put our best foot forward and help save lives. We’ve got this.