Keeping Your Memory Alive

As I drove home from work last night I tried to remember where I was 6 years ago. Thanks to apps like TimeHop & Facebook’s On This Day, I have a slight memory of where I was and what I was doing. I couldn’t tell you much about my mindset on July 6, 2011 but I can tell you this:

I was recently 21, working a summer job at a radio station, which included working a summer event series called Nitefall on the River with this guy named Adam who, on this particular night, walked with me up to the steps of the state capitol and we talked about life, dreams & goals. From there, my mind is a little blank.

It didn’t need to soak up all of the events of the day or the week, the emotions I was feeling or anything else because I had no idea that, in hours, my entire life would be turned upside down.

Six years ago I was broken. My world had stopped spinning and I couldn’t focus on anything in front of me. I wrote last year about how I could still feel everything from that day six years ago; that’s still true today. And, thanks to technology, the messages I sent out six years ago still have the ability to transport me to my broken, 21 year old self who wasn’t sure she could make it through the day.

I reluctantly looked at my apps this morning and saw messages like this:

timeHop

Technology can be a beautiful and terrible thing.

I wasn’t sure if I should write this year. As many of you know, I recently got engaged. And, as the rest of you know, much of this blog is about the life lessons or heartbreak I’ve endured since my boyfriend killed himself six years ago. For many people, those are conflicting. Shouldn’t I have moved on by now? Should I no longer feel heartache for someone I truly loved? I’m sure you all have your opinions. Luckily, I have mine too.

Shortly after Luke died, I got a tattoo of his initials on my foot and, though his mom knew how much I loved him, she warned me that someday I’d move on and it might be tough to explain that to the new man in my life. But I didn’t care, and I don’t care, and I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship where my past is respected and understood.

These blog posts are therapeutic to me and are the best way I can keep Luke’s memory alive. Though years have passed and I’ve opened myself up to loving and being loved, it doesn’t mean that I can’t mourn a love I lost; a best friend who left this Earth long before I ever wanted him to.

I wrote earlier that six years ago I was broken. The year following that, I was just as broken, if not more. I’m not standing before you six years later telling you that I have it all together because I don’t. If we’re being honest, I had a breakdown on Monday night and another one last night. I’m not perfect, I hurt and mourn for people who are long gone and a big portion of me thinks that parts of me will always be broken but it’s that brokenness that reminds me of how much, and who, I’ve had to love in this life.

Luke

 

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Five Years

Five years. 1,825 nights. Days, months, and years that I stumbled through this world wondering what I was doing without you.

Have you ever lost something you loved? Maybe it was your comfort blanket when you were little, an important essay in college or maybe, you’re like me, and you’ve lost someone you’ve loved.

I typically hate using the word “lost” for someone dying, but for a long time, that’s how I felt about Luke. I felt like I had this amazing person and I was just wandering through this life trying to find him again. It took me three years to realize that wasn’t going to happen. And when that realization set it, in hurt like hell. If I’m being honest, it still does.

After my mom died, I would wake up each day and repeat this thought to myself before I even let myself sit upright, “Your mom is dead. She will never come back.” And for a long time after Luke died, I had to remind myself that he was gone as well. The realization of it setting in later in the day was enough to cripple me.

I don’t have to remind myself of either of these things anymore. I’m aware these two important people are no longer in my life but it never fails that on important days -anniversaries, birthdays, holidays – my mind will wander back to the days that I lost these two.

I was on my way to work today as my mind began to drift and I could feel the heat of the asphalt under my knees and it was like I was back in that parking lot five years ago as I heard the words from Cheryl that Luke was dead. I can remember my world spinning and feeling sick to my stomach. I remember grabbing the rail in the parking lot as I called my mom to tell her the news knowing that, without something to steady me, I would fall back to my knees again. I can remember the numbness that continued for weeks, months, and years after Luke died. After the numbness subsided, the pain set in, and I can still feel that today. But for the life of me, I cannot remember the last words I said to him.

Did I tell him I loved him? Did I remind him how much he meant to me? I want to believe I did, knowing that it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

Technology reminded me that 5 years and 1 day ago I posted the lyrics to Sunrays and Saturdays on my Facebook page. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had aimed that message at Luke, back then, that’s what I did. And it’s a very fitting song.

“Open the window/ Let the sunset in/If only for the last time/Let me see you smile again.”

I’m all too guilty of saying the wrong things at the wrong times, or just saying hurtful things in general, it’s something that I’m working on. But, if you’re reading this, please heed this advice and always tell the people you care most about that you love them. You never know when, or if, you’ll get another chance to do so.

BL

 

Cory Monteith’s Death

I woke up with a heavy heart on Sunday morning. As I was going to silence the alarm on my phone I read an update from USA Today that “Glee” star, Cory Monteith, had died the previous day in his Vancouver hotel.

I’m not all that interested in celebrity news, I watch the occasional Entertainment Tonight episode, a few reality shows, and browse the headlines of gossip magazines while in line at the grocery store, but many times when I hear news like this I’m not that affected. This time was different.

I remember hearing back in March that the actor had voluntarily admitted himself into rehab. Given the history of people I care about, I was interested in this news. My own boyfriend had been through a bit of the same thing, so I thought it was a great step for Monteith to take and was even better that his girlfriend, co-star Lea Michele, was standing by his side as well.

So when I heard the news that he died, my mind immediately went to his girlfriend. Granted, I didn’t know the cause behind his death, but being as he had admitted to being a previous addict and his rehab history, I had my speculations.

The news of his death hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know these actors, nor what may go on behind the scenes in their own lives, but I do know what it’s like to love someone who is struggling and I know the heartache that follows losing someone you love so much.

It’s times like these that I wish we could talk openly about mental health, addiction, depression, and substance abuse in our society today. We tend to look down on people involved in any of these, we criticize them for the mistakes they make, comment on their trip(s) to rehab, and then just sit back and hear the news of their death. This isn’t something that we as a society should just accept.

Whether it’s a celebrity, co-worker, or your best friend, we need to open our eyes to the struggles that people we see every day are enduring. We can’t wait until it’s too late to speak up or ask someone if they’re okay.

Hope and Renewal In Uncertain Times

In lieu of many things going on in my life, and in the lives of many others who may be struggling, I decided to share this article.

After the mass murders and shootings that have occurred in recent times, as well as losing loved ones due to long-term illnesses or suicide, I found this piece to be a glimpse of hope for those of us unable to currently see it.

This has helped me, and I hope, it can help you as well.

It is no accident that families who experience the sudden, violent loss of a loved one make a powerful commitment to fight the waste of life. Once one has touched the dark side of the moon, the power and vibrancy of life takes on a new meaning — it is not just having a life, it is being truly alive.- Ditta M. Oliker

Time Passes, Even When We Don’t Want It To

Two months ago today, I was sitting on my college campus between classes writing a blog post. I remember the day clearly: the rain was falling outside and I could hear the sound of it gently hitting the windowpane behind me, and I was content (mainly because I enjoy a rainy day every once in awhile). I was a little over a month away from graduating from the university and life felt great.

It’s amazing how quickly that feeling can go away.

Nineteen days after that blog post, my mom suffered from a seizure. We thought it was just a byproduct of her stage IV melanoma and weekly chemo sessions. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t that simple, and six days after she was admitted to the hospital, she died, peacefully on a sunny wintry morning after celebrating my oldest sister’s birthday, and I was lucky enough to hold her hand and read to her in her last moments. In a matter of days, my life was turned upside down.

The past month has been a rollercoaster of emotions trying to deal with the changes ranging from life without my mom to my transition into the world after college. With all that was going on, I didn’t feel I was at a place to be writing. I didn’t think I had anything to say.

I could barely help myself how could I possibly help someone else right now?” I thought.

But tonight I realized writing is what I have to do. Maybe I don’t have much insight or information to offer, but if I can share the daily struggles of life after the death of a loved one, maybe I could inspire even one person to share their story. Losing someone close to you changes your whole existence. It changes your thoughts about your future, the person you are, and throws a curve ball into something as simple as your daily routine. With all these changes, it’s no wonder people easily fall into a depression after significant loss and change. I find myself fighting that every single day. But that’s what we have to do. We have to fight. Whether it is for ourselves, our friends, or any of our loved ones; it is in these moments that we need to be reaching out for help, or to simply be willing to open up.

Depression comes on quickly. At first it may seem like a lazy day or you can blame it on the gloomy weather. And eventually, you find that days and weeks have passed and the feelings haven’t subsided, but the sooner you reach out to others, the easier it can be to cope with.

Making yourself vulnerable is difficult, believe me, I’ve been trying to think of something, anything to say since my mom died. But eventually, you just have to put it out there, and hopefully, you’ll be surprised at the response and support you’re greeted with.

My plea for you tonight, is to not give up. Not on yourself or your loved ones, help them away from the darkness depression can bring on. It’s amazing the impact a few simple words can make.

World Suicide Prevention Day

“The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined,” according to statistics released by the IASP.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day. For the past ten years, the International Association for Suicide Prevention along with many other organizations, have dedicated their time and work to educating others on this topic, in hopes of saving lives and preventing the numbers from rising.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year; over the span of a year, that amounts to one death every 40 seconds. It is also one of the leading causes of death among young people. Suicide is estimated to be under-reported for many reasons, one of them including the stigma surrounding the topic in societies across the world.

Suicide is preventable. In many cases, those who take their own lives have never sought out medical help or shared their feelings with family or friends. Many people who commit suicide have attempted before.

The effects that suicide has on family and friends of the loved one are immeasurable and can have detrimental effects on those left behind. Today, I ask you to reach out to someone. Tell them how much they mean to you, be willing to open up your eyes and listen to what people around you are telling you.

Tonight, at 8 pm, I ask you to light a candle near a window in your home, apartment, or bedroom. This candle signifies your support of suicide prevention. It also honors surivors of suicide and is a way to remember those who have lost their lives to suicide.

Today is simply one day out of the year to show your support. Speak up. Open up. Save a life.

Putting the World on Hold

One year. 365 days. I never knew it was possible for time to stand still but speed by at the same time. I’ll never forget the day that my boyfriend explained to me what déjà vu was. We lived in San Diego at the time and we were headed to the movies. I was telling him that I was having déjà vu and felt as though I’d been there before, he just looked at me and laughed and told me “déjà vu is just one half of your brain catching up with the other.” That was three years ago and to this day I’m not sure if that’s true or not, I just know that right now I wish both sides of my brain were at the same place. It’s as though part of me is stuck in the same place I was a year ago…it’s hard to accept the fact that someone has died, but this time it is even harder for me. When I was in high school two of my friends were killed in car accidents and I thought that was the worst kind of pain and heartbreak I could ever experience. Until I lost Luke. I not only had to mourn the death of my boyfriend but I had to mourn the loss of my best friend, our relationship, and the future we had planned.

I’m a writer by nature and that is the only way I know how to get through good or bad experiences. I write…it’s just what I do. I was reading through the many pages I wrote at this time last year about what I was going through. At one point I was trying to write everything about him that I could remember. I was terrified I was going to forget what his smile looked like or how his voice sounded or the way his touch felt when we were holding hands. It’s a year later and I know those are things I’ll never forget. I did come across this, though, in the many things I wrote after his death.

“I always told you how you were such an inspiration for my writing and you would reply with ‘well, I’m just glad I can be helpful in some sort of way to you’. You’ll never know how much of an inspiration you were to me. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens…everything helped me.”

One year ago today I lost one of the most important people in my life and I struggle every single day. But I share my story and his story in hopes that I can make a difference in just one person’s life. I’ve shared my story, will you?