“Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born . . . you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.”
— e. e. cummings
It was June 7, 2004. You died on June 7, 2004. It feels like yesterday . . . like today . . . and like all the tomorrows to come. Your laughter, your smile, your wit, your wisdom, your intelligence, your sixth sense, your hugs, your kisses, your beautiful person . . . died on June 7, 2004. Eleven years ago. Eleven years of remembering you and missing you and wishing you were still here on this earth.
Rebecca Lynn Cutler. Becky. My daughter. Once I was able to internalize the shock of your loss, I needed to find a way to keep your glorious spirit alive. The dream. Your dream. I needed to find a way to actualize it. To make it real . . . make it count . . . to make your life count. To continue your work of helping others understand the diseases of depression and bipolar disorder. To continue to teach and promote awareness and compassionate understanding of those in need. To continue where you left off.
Ten years ago, the Rebecca Lynn Cutler Legacy of Life Foundation was born—your dream, Rebecca. It became—and remains—a reality. This November 7, 2015, at the 10th Annual Rebecca’s Dream Benefit, we will acknowledge a decade of celebrating your passion, Rebecca, to help individuals, their families, their friends, their peers, and their colleagues to understand what it feels like to live with depression and bipolar disorder. We will acknowledge that bootstraps do not—cannot—“pull someone up” and out of the pain of mental illness. We will acknowledge that humiliating name-calling only adds to the shame and disgrace already endured by people with this diagnosis. You felt shame. You felt humiliation. You felt “less than” others. You, Rebecca Lynn, wanted and needed to make a difference in the lives of so many people, because you understood the pain–both physical and emotional—of living with mental illness.
Your family and friends have diligently carried forward your dream. What have we been able to accomplish in your name? Look at the Rebecca’s Dream’s website—your website—to begin the journey. It’s known as one of the “go to” sites for mental health awareness, knowledge, and compassionate understanding of the illnesses of depression and bipolar disorder. People all over the world search your website for support, hope, and enlightenment. All over the world, Becky!!!
During our five-year partnership with DBSA, we made a positive impact in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of families and individuals . . . like L. K. who wrote us in 2013: “You helped me with a DBSA scholarship four years ago for a conference and classes, and I am still grateful for your generosity.” Then, in 2010, your family and friends became our own 501(c)3 foundation. The Phoenix was now flying solo. Yes, we were scared. But also determined to continue your mission. And we’ve succeeded beyond our dreams . . .beyond your own dreams, Becky.
During the past five years, RD has partnered with and funded nearly $100,000 in grants to like-minded mental health organizations that also promote awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases. RD developed the ”Teens and Transitions” program for parents of children entering high school. Due to its great success, the third annual program is on the drawing board along with other school-age transition programs. Your mom has been a speaker for mental health awareness in suburban and Chicago schools, at mental health forums, and with your dad on WGN radio and TV. Your dear friend at WGN, Steve Cochran, continues to speak about you and has invited us to speak about RD every year for the past 10 years. Your dream, Rebecca, has been discussed in many Chicago and local newspapers. And then there’s the play (yes, a play!), Tell Me What You Remember, that we co-produced with Erasing the Distance; it tells the story of a family’s journey with mental health. It was a smash hit, Becky!! It garnered rave reviews in the Chicago Around Town and Chicago Stage Standard newspapers. (The first play we co-produced with Erasing the Distance was Good Enough, and it also continues to be informative, touching, and filled with hope.) And your foundation, Becky, has so much more to offer and continues to plan for the immediate now and the near future.
Hope, dear Rebecca. Hope is what you needed so badly. Hope is what you imbued in others. Hope is what saves lives. HOPE.
Just a few days ago, on June 2—a few days before the 11th anniversary of your death—there was a full moon. And this moon, according to the Power Path School of Shamanism in Santa Fe, is filled with hope:
“This moon is energized, inspiring, and supports creative action and breakthrough in ideas, problem-solving and new ways of approaching something. Watch impatience and beware of frustration around not being able to do everything at the same time. Allow yourself to be inspired and lifted by what is showing up most powerfully. There is plenty of time. Do one thing at a time and take that action with enthusiasm.”
I promise you, Becky, that I will watch my tendencies toward frustration and impatience (both are plentiful in my nature, as you well know) and not try doing everything at the same time. I will remember your inspiring energy and support of others as you helped them break through into their own problem-solving and new ways of approaching their lives. I promise, Becky, to take one thing at a time . . . with enthusiasm.
And I promise to remain hopeful that your dream—to end the stigma of mental illness—will become reality. Even though I want to END THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS NOW, I will remain hopeful and patient.
Your dream will live on and flourish. You show up most powerfully to inspire and lift us all up to become more of who we are. You may not be here, but you are everywhere. You are the dreamer of dreams. You are my beloved child, Rebecca Lynn Cutler.