a letter to the void

Hey there. I haven't a clue where you are right now, or what you are doing, but I have hope most days that you are out there somewhere. Some days I swear that I can even feel you near. Sometimes I picture you sitting next to me in the front seat of my car while I drive, your long legs extended in front of you, your jeans and your skater shoes, even the way you would prop your elbow on the center console while we drove, and I talk with you about life now that you are gone. But I always have to stop talking to you because it makes me cry so hard that I can't speak anymore.

I am letting time slip away from me in the same way that you scoop sand into your hand and it trickles through your fingertips. Last Summer was amazing, the best Summer of my life so far. This Summer I am heartbroken and trying to figure out how to glue the pieces back together. It feels as though I am a completely different human being who has been thrown harshly back into life and expected to navigate open waters without a compass. I have never been here before, I don't know what I am doing.

I don't think I am doing it well, this navigation.

I have never had depression, but I can feel it creeping into my life like a dark storm cloud that blows in quietly, overcoming the sunshine with stealth, and only once you look up to see it do you even realize it is there at all. Everyday has become a fight for me. I fight for motivation, I fight for optimism, I fight for hope. The things that came so easily to me my entire life are now the things that I have to fight the hardest for. I don't understand it, but then, I don't understand a lot of things.

Sometimes I think all that I can do is to fight. I think that going to bed exhausted and depleted, then waking up in the morning and getting out of bed at the risk of going through it all over again, that is maybe some huge form of sacrifice and courage and bravery. Although it never feels like bravery. It feels like shame and defeat.

It doesn't feel brave at all.

At the end of the day, and maybe even at the end of all this, I do feel some gratitude. This sadness that looms over me gives me a gift. I feel empathy and love stronger than I have ever felt before. I feel that I truly understand how life is hard for us all, how everyone is fighting some terrible battle, how important it is to be kind.

When I visit your grave I feel empty. It isn't a place you walked and talked when you were here, and I think that is why I can't connect with it. I feel you strongest when I visit our home town. I ride my bike there one morning a week, all the way out to our old stomping grounds. I ride past our high school, our old paper routes, our favorite sledding hills, the park where we played as kids. I ride past our childhood home, where we moved when I was eight and you were three, where your room was directly above mine and we would talk with each other through the heater vents at night. That town is filled with memories of our childhood floating in the air like ghosts, and it's the only thing that makes me feel like you are there, those memories. It is my favorite place to be right now.

There was a boy at panda express who dished my food and took my money today. He reminded me of you. He was younger, probably just out of high school. I watched him while he pushed the buttons on the register and I wondered about him, about his life and if he was sad and if he needed something more. I wondered about his family and where he was from. I wished I could ask him all of these questions but my eyes welled up with tears, so I hurried to pay and left quickly.

It is exhausting pretending like I am okay all of the time. And then I think, is that how you felt? At the end of every day were you just exhausted from pretending like you were fine in front of us all? I'm so sorry. I wish I had known you were pretending. Regret is one of the most terrible feelings I have ever dealt with in my entire life. Everyone tells me, there is nothing you could have done! Only, that never helps, because I know I could have done more. I know it, and I hate it, and I have to live with it forever.

The family is doing okay. We get together often and use each other to lean on. The kids are all growing so fast, they are so much bigger now than they were even last year, when you last saw them. Jace talks about you occasionally. He asks me if he can be James when he grows up. He tells us that you are watching us from Heaven.

We are just trying to pick up the pieces, and the truth is, there will always be such a huge piece missing in all of our lives. I am sorry that you aren't here with us. I love you, and I miss you, every day.

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