On Friday, July 10, 2015, we celebrated the launch of Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World in Vancouver. If you’ve read the book, you will know that it’s the true story of my brother, Jim Young, and me. You will know that, in part, it’s the true story of a brother and a sister. And you will, I hope, have experienced much of the story with me. You will have felt me at times leave him behind in the narrative, and you will know the tremendous ache in my heart looking back. You will know the tragedy of loss that thundered through our lives so many years ago.
And so on Friday, July 10, if you weren’t able to be there with us all, I want to share a tiny moment of the night with you…
On Friday, July 10, we also celebrated the launch of The Jim Young Foundation – a brand new foundation that exists to make the world a safer place for people who struggle with mental health issues. My brother, Jim Young, was a truly remarkable wildlife artist who took his own life at 26 years of age. For years now my husband and I have been the keepers of his private collection of art in our home, but it’s only now (through the very generous work of Gary Giacamelli who spent countless hours digitalizing Jim’s work) that we have been able to share his work with the world through an online gallery you can find on my website under the Jim Young Fund and on FineArt America.
The world can now buy prints and images of Jim’s work online at Fine Art America. All of the proceeds go to The Jim Young Foundation to help others who struggle with mental health. I urge you to visit and enjoy viewing his work. The world needs to understand the incredible losses that occur every single day; more than two thousand people on the planet take their own lives every day. My brother’s work is a glimpse at what the world loses when a life ends this way.
And so here’s the moment I want you to know about — once you’ve read the book you’ll understand. On Friday, July 10, in some way that I cannot explain, I felt myself stand next to my brother on stage that night. I felt the world applaud his talent, cheer for his success, and understand his struggle as they had not understood before. I felt my brother smile and blush. And in some strange way that night, I felt I was able to return to that moment in the field of fireflies so many years ago, but this time it was me with a jar of light. I felt myself loosen the lid to let the fireflies fill up the empty glass in his hands.
“You can have mine,” I felt myself whisper. And we walked together, the two of us, into that magical night with a lantern to share, as if there was no such thing as darkness.