When I think of you I still picture a young man; it’s how I’ve preserved you in my head. I picture the smile that stretched across your face, the sound of your laugh, the feeling of your hand in mine. I picture you as you were.
Twenty-eight. That’s how old you would have been today and, as hard as I try, I can’t seem to wrap my head around that fact.
Who would you have been? Where would you be? Would you have looked the same? Sounded the same? Would you still be drawing or onto another lifestyle?
We had created this little routine for your birthday; I would have made some comment to you about being so old today (“Almost 30?!”) and you would have laughed and made fun of me for being young. It was small and sarcastic but it was ours and I loved it. I’ve been replaying your last birthday we spent together over and over in my head. When I walked through the door, you picked me up and wouldn’t let me go right away. We laughed, we grilled, we binge-watched SVU, and we spent as much time together as we could. That’s the last birthday memory I’ll ever have of you.
Birthdays are my favorite. Mostly because I know how important they are. I’ve had enough people in my life die for me to learn how precious this life is and to celebrate each year that passes. But today, I’m not in the celebrating mood. Your birthday is a reminder of what I’ve lost. And that each year that passes, I grow another year older than you.
Today, I can’t stop picturing your smile. It’s not often that I remember you that way so I’ll take it as a sign and I’ll celebrate and remember you today.
Happy birthday, Luke.
Throughout my life, I have lost many people close to me. I lost my first friend when I was twelve and the losses just seemed to keep coming after that. In high school I lost two of my best friends. Through these experiences, I learned what it was like to go through traumatic events by myself; I found ways to grieve and move through the situations, each one taking a longer process than the one before. The difference between losing someone in a skiing accident or a car accident as opposed to suicide is this: one was an accident, the other was a choice.
My best friend, who was also my boyfriend of the time committed suicide two months ago today. I never knew that one day could feel like a lifetime until he was gone. Losing him to suicide was not something I was willing to comprehend at first; I didn’t want to believe it actually happened. Losing my friends in high school was a shock and came about so suddenly, but I had never felt the pain of losing someone who meant everything to me. When someone so close to you commits suicide you are left alone. You’re left with unanswered questions, conversations you wish you could have one more time, or even just the overwhelming pain of missing that person. Although suicide may seem to answer that one person’s questions or solve their problems, it leaves loved ones hurting and trying to find answers.
So here I am, two months to the day. Some days it feels like it’s been years since he’s been gone, and other days I still check my phone waiting for him to call. Each day is a battle that we all have to overcome. If he taught me anything, it’s that I am always stronger than I believe. Everyone is stronger than they believe…you just have to be willing to fight.
World Suicide Prevention Day is coming up on September 10th. I never really believed that I would be an advocate for such a cause, but if I can even help out one person then this has been worth it.
Open up your eyes, look around you, listen to the people who are suffering; offer help.