Normally, I would blog this letter to you on the anniversary of your death, d-day as I call it, April 3. But, as you know, I was in Aruba then and didn’t want to touch a computer with a 10 foot pole. More importantly, I was busy soaking up the sunshine and participating in one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I cried, I could literally feel my heart breaking over and over, but I didn’t want too much idle time because I wanted to do something special to remember you. I wanted to do something you would do. Do something to make you proud. I know you would be upset if I sat around and cried all day. So I didn’t. I wanted to but I didn’t, and I am glad I made the choice to celebrate your life. But I was busy celebrating and didn’t get the chance to “pen” this letter.
I am not sure I know how to describe this last year. It has been so incredibly painful and confusing. It has been full of loss. Obviously, the loss of you looms the largest. There are secondary effects to you no longer being on this earth. I’ve loss a huge part of myself. You were so important and such a part of the woman I have become. I knew you for nearly half my life and you have helped shape me and challenge me. You made me laugh; you made me cry; pushed me beyond my limits, and encouraged some of my (some of our) wildest dreams. You loved me. Now you are not here. And, I am different. I will never be the person I was when you were a daily, tangible presence in my life. I know God is continuing to mold me into the woman He wants me to become, but I am still learning what your absence means in all of that. The only thing I know for sure is that nothing will ever be the same and I will forever feel your loss.
Friendships have been interesting. I have lost a few. I’ll probably never know if that is because of what has happened to me or just the natural course of life. The few that I’ve lost pale in comparison to those that I have gained. Our friends have been absolutely incredible in taking care of me. Our bond was strong before you left us and we continue to look out for, encourage, and love one another. I’ve also gained a few of your law school friends, which has been neat. They all try to tell me not to go to law school, but I have to give it a shot for myself. My small group, “The Faithful Four”, as I affectionately refer to them have been incredible, too. When we all get to heaven I want to make sure they meet you. You’ve heard a lot about them, and they a lot about you, but we’ll make the face to face contact in the clouds one day. My other friends have been stellar, too. Nobody’s known how to handle such a tragedy, but they’ve done a good job of comforting me and helping me “get my sparkle back”. Speaking of friendships, did you make a new friend in Matthew Warren (the son of Pastor Rick Warren) this week? Everyone jokes that you met everyone in heaven within 3 days of being there. I can’t wait for you to introduce me to your new friends!
With the good, comes the bad. Grieving your death has been so painful. I thought I would join you in heaven many times this year. My heart didn’t feel like it could handle it, but it did. I am still here.
Your death has also brought a lot of self growth. I’ve learned more about myself and who and what are important in my life. I also hope to start down the path to law school. Remember when you and I talked about my going to law school? It didn’t seem like the best idea at the time because of other plans, but now, I’m giving it a shot. I’ve also learned who I can count on and how to say no. In addition, I haven’t been able to take care of others because I’ve been in too much pain myself. Consequently, I have also learned a little bit about what it means to take care of myself. I’ve got a lot of work to do in this area, but one step at a time.
One year ago today was your celebration of life service. Until that day, the fact that you were gone seemed like a figment of my imagination. At times, it still does. On one hand, it probably always will. My mind will never be able to make sense of the fact that you took your own life. I saw the remarkable (in a negative way) transformation you went through before you took your last breath, but I don’t want to remember the hard times we went through that led you to that point. I want to remember you for you. There were close to 500 people “at” (present and online) your service and it was a Wednesday morning at 11am. If it was on a Saturday, I bet the Consol Energy Center would have had to be rented!! You touched so many lives, Dude. You had no idea. One of the things I love is that “random” people contact me to offer their condolences and share stories about you. I love this. I love that somehow they knew we were so close and I love listening to the ways you enriched their lives. We used to joke that between the two of us we knew all of UR. Well, guess what?! Now, I am meeting “the other half” that I didn’t know. You lived such a blessed and influential life in such a short period of time on this earth. I am sad. So sad. But, you have given me so much to celebrate, too.
Ever since you’ve died, I have been longing to know what your new life with Christ is like. Can you see me down here? Does it hurt you when I cry like it used to when you were with me? Do you and God discuss things that are going on down here like prayers that I pray? Is it like an Easter Celebration Service every day, all day in heaven? Do you still have talents in heaven? If Whitney Houston is there with you, does she perform on “Cloud 9” every once in awhile? Bad joke, I know. There are things that happen down here to me and to our friends that truly have no explanation. Is that you letting us know you are OK? Sometimes it feels like I can feel your presence with me. Is it all in my head? I know you are healthy, you are happy and you are free from pain. You must really be enjoying hanging out with God every day. You enjoyed spending time with God, reading His word, and talking to Him here on earth. Now, you’ve taken it to the next level. I’d love to know what it is like, but I just have to wait and see.
You know my hopes. You know my fears. You know my dreams. This year has been the most difficult year of my life. I never expected to be where I am and to feel the way I feel. I never expected to have to live without you. But here I am. Please, if you can, stay close. I miss you more than I can describe and love you to heaven and back.
Ti amo, JB