I still remember what I was wearing the day you died.
I was 14; a freshman in high school and I was about to get into my first relationship.
I was eager for the outfit I had planned; a pink tank top and my favourite blue jeans, with my hair perfectly straight and my bangs pinned back.
My morning classes of grade 9 dragged on, impatiently waiting for lunch hour.
Suddenly, it didn’t matter when I returned home.
My mother was home, which was strange. She worked till 3:30 on Friday’s and today she said she was having a bad day. I knew then something was wrong but what I wasn’t expecting was my heart broken father telling me that evening that you killed yourself.
Long gone was the innocent 14 year old who worried about her outfit this morning.
I sat with silent tears on my cheeks as my mom held me while my dad quietly explained that you struggled all your life with mental health, and tried to find help weeks earlier but couldn’t.
You were in a better place I thought to myself; your soul was at peace.
I never felt that way before. That numb, awful aching feeling in my throat clawing its way out into a heart broken sob as I realised the man who taught me to rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher; the man who fell for my fake high five jokes, the one who I was excited to see every Friday had died. You held a place in my families heart that would never be replaced.
I always wondered why you were gone in the morning by 6am, when I would wander downstairs; expecting to see you passed out on the couch, but only folded blankets lay there. I had always assumed you worked early, because what else would explain you being gone every morning.
I didn’t understand then, but I understand now. Even when you were your happiest, you still weren’t happy.
Five years later, there is still a place in my heart for you. A place that holds memories of you in my house, putting up with me and my two siblings. Entertaining us until mom and dad put us to bed. I wish so badly I could go to the exact moment I saw you last.
There are moments where I think I can feel your presence with my dad, I know somewhere in him is a piece of you. There’s a piece of you in everyone who knew you. Whether it be your contagious smile and laughter, your humour, your love for friends.
As time passes I can feel my grief slowly lift. Sometimes I feel silly being upset over something that happened a long time ago. But other times it feels fresh; a raw open wound that heals but I can’t help but pick at.
There are nights where I struggle so hard to comprehend that someone like you was so miserable; and that the only way you thought you could escape was death. I often wonder if your soul found peace; if in your final moments you thought, finally.
There were nights where I would silently cry, grieving you. Where my nose burned, my cheeks were so wet it felt like I had dumped my head in water; where my throat was so raw not even water soothed it.
If you knew those who loved you would hurt this much, would you still have left us? Or would the thought of my family never fully healing from your loss stop you from the impending death you planned?
My chest physically aches for my father who lost his best friend. My chest aches for my brother who was 12 at the time, and couldn’t fully understand what death was, but knew you were gone. It aches for my sister who had to watch her younger siblings grieve and she couldn’t help us. It aches for my mother who watched her husband fall apart and watched her kids grieve the man who brought so much life into everyone else’s.
Five years later, my throat still burns from holding back sobs, my fingers still shake from wiping away my tears; my heart still breaks.
I wish time travel existed. I wish I could just go back to the moment you decided you wanted to end it. And I wish I could plead with you that my family needs you, that your friends need you.
That every June you are supposed to go on a golfing trip with your buddies; every summer you are supposed to help my dad open the cabin; every fall you are supposed to come for a drink the evening my dad returns home. That when I started university you were supposed to tell me everything I needed to know about getting a business degree.
I haven’t thought about you in a while. And I’m sorry. I’m learning to move on. But every once in a while I can hear the ghost of your laughter at my kitchen table. I can see your toothbrush beside the sink, I can hear you quietly talking to my dad in the midnight hours, and I can see your shadow behind my dad as he reaches for a bud lite in the garage. I like to believe that whenever I think of you, you appear with me. Whenever we can feel you it’s because you’re with us; making sure we are doing everything you wanted us to do.
They say time heals wounds. Time stitches up those gaping holes that you have left behind. The gaping hole of you. I don’t know what’s worse; knowing that you couldn’t get help or knowing that maybe I could have helped you. Whoever said grief slowly goes away, must’ve never experienced a loss such as ours.
To my reader, you are loved. You are worthy. You are amazing. The earth needs you; your family and friends need you. This planet is better with you here.
Please do not ever think that suicide is the answer to your problems. Help is available.
If you’re in the US and need to speak to someone about suicide, click here to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you’re in the UK and need to speak to someone, click here to read more and contact the Samaritans.