There are some things in life that happen that are out of our control. We don’t wish them upon us. We punish ourselves for not taking action to change the outcome. We can’t seem to  come to terms with the reality that we are faced with.

Memory Garden is a place where one walks to seek solace from inner turmoil. A place where they can harbor these thoughts, exhale them out, and inhale the potential for acceptance.

The azaleas were blooming, magnolias budding, birds chirping, and butterflies fluttering in the Garden where I met Judy on a beautiful spring day on the west side of Gainesville. Judy was sitting on the bench outside the garden and embraced my hand with a warm smile.

Judy was connected with me through Cheryl Kaplan, the mother of a very talented audio mixer and artist, Eli Kaplan, whom I had worked with on a project in Fall. Judy took on the role of coordinator of the garden with the Friends of the Crisis Center and others as a place people to come to seek refuge. Over twelve years ago, Judy’s son died by suicide. She is one of many who are left victims of loved ones who endured so much pain that they took it upon themselves to leave this world.

Judy introduced me to the garden. It takes the visitor on a journey through four different areas, each with their own unique significance in a walk of coming to terms with their feelings one may not be able to put their finger on. I returned a week later to film the garden and record the narration which Judy and the Friends of the Crisis Center wrote.

Marshall, the former Director of the Crisis Center, narrated the intro and main body of the video with his calm, thoughtful, moving voice. Greg, the artist of the third area of the garden, narrated the second portion, and Judy herself narrated the final words. She was nervous about the sound of her own voice being recorded as she had never done so before. I assured her that her voice was great and that she herself narrating the final would be a very organic way to end the video. She was quite surprised and pleased with the way her voice sounded once recorded.

Having been a Crisis Center volunteer in college, this project reconnected me with my love of psychology and helping others. To our knowledge, this is the largest garden dedicated to this cause in the world.

It is the hope of Judy and Friends of the Crisis Center that other victims of suicide around the nation and world will see this video and be inspired to create a garden like this in their community: a place where one can attempt to find peace amidst a torrent of emotion, where one can seek answers to the unanswerable in the quest for inner peace.

-Sami