Grief & Loss

Here Comes Another Birthday, My Friend

Here Comes Another Birthday, My Friend

Here comes another birthday, my friend. This one snuck up on me this year. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m somewhat ok with it too. 

This last year since I wrote to you has brought on a lot of changes, and all are pretty amazing. I was just reading the previous two letters I had written to you on your birthday since I had lost you and shed a tear. Walking down memory lane is never the easiest thing in the world, especially when it comes to confronting painful memories. 

Walking Down Memory Lane

I will never forget that night. Although it is less painful to think about now. I still wish I could trade your life for another. I’ve said it before, that I would gladly empty a full magazine into more than one person and take their life if it meant I could have yours back. Give whatever god may be out there two lives in exchange for yours. Two for the price of one! How can you go wrong? I know it doesn’t work that way, but I sincerely wish it did. Wishful thinking is often very comforting. 

What I do appreciate is that I’ve healed enough to tell my story and help others. A friend and I were having a chat one afternoon about suicide and I was able to help her understand her own thoughts and emotions centered around it. It was a very bright conversation in that I was able to use my experience to help someone else understand theirs. I couldn’t have done that before I lost you. Being able to give a voice to my experience and open discussions about mental health has become very important to me. 

Old Habits

I still find myself unconsciously fiddling with my paracord bracelet, mimicking you doing it. Four years later, I still catch myself doing it. Speaking of my paracord bracelet, I’ve been making rifle slings constantly for about two weeks now, as I’ve had a fairly large number of orders. I fell in love with paracord as a medium to make things and am glad to be sharing that with others. It is an amazing way to honor you every time I make one. I’ve had people suggest some other ideas as well, like a belt, lanyard, and even a dog leash. I’ll be giving those a try very soon. 

My Career

My writing career is taking off, right along with my product line. I’m working on a series of kids books that I think will be amazing. Just needing to find an illustrator, as I have a publisher. The books still need work, but I am loving that project and very excited to watch it come to life. I’ve learned to be fearless since your death. If it isn’t slightly terrifying, it isn’t worth doing. But I learned that life is far too short to spend it waiting for the right time to do something, because it will never be the right time. 

Life Without You

I look at my life since you’ve been gone, and there have been a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes the downs are me self-sabotaging myself because I expect the worst. But I’m working on trusting the people in my life a lot more. That isn’t always easy, especially for me. It is a constant battle and hopefully I am making progress. 

This year hasn’t been anywhere near normal or traditional, by any stretch of the imagination. But it has made me appreciate the people in my life even more than I did before. There are times I look at someone and wonder what you would think of them. Is that weird that I ask myself if you would like my friends? 

I had my tattoo sleeve worked on recently. It is now officially complete. Shortly after that I met one of your high school friends. He was telling me how you had talked him out of a tattoo when you were much younger, and he never got one after that. But after you died, he got one done to honor you as well. Obviously I wasn’t the only person you impacted in life, and I love that. Did you know or realize the impact you had on others? I wonder if any of us realize things like that. Or if it is just some unspoken thing that we don’t even realize until someone dies. 

Happy Birthday, My Friend

This birthday is no different than any other. I still miss you and think about you daily. The time I had with you is something I will always be grateful for. I wish I had longer, but life is far too short for all of us. You taught me so much both in life and in death. 

I hope I’ve honored those lessons from you and made you proud. It makes me cry because I miss hearing you say you were proud of me. That is my hope when I get up every day, that I am putting those lessons to work in my daily life and striving to be the best version of myself. 

Happy birthday, my dear friend. I hope that even in another life, you’re still celebrating this day. I know I am, despite missing you. My grief will never go away, but neither does my gratitude to you.

7 Comments

  • Nkem

    This was so sweet, beautiful, and deep. Yes, it was sad, but I recognized the beauty in your journey of life as you remember and honor your friend. Wishing your heart the best.

  • Luna S

    It sounds like you had a deep love and connection, I am sorry they are gone. This post was bitter sweet to read, thank you for sharing such a personal moment.

  • Stella

    This is a wonderful, emotional tribute to your friend. I could feel and identify with this emotion. Trading lives. Deep love and connection. I loved reading about the changes in your life and so excited to see that your kids books are coming up, too. I am looking forward reading more about that.

  • Kat

    A wonderful and meaningful tribute to a dear friend. He must have been truly special – as evidenced by the fact that another friend also got a tattoo in his memory. I love how you are honoring him by succeeding in your own life. That is the best way.

  • Britt K

    This is a beautiful letter to your friend, a testament to the fact that you have been able to take a heartbreaking experience and turn it into an opportunity to help others. That is a beautiful testament to your love, a great way to honour the memory. I am sure that your friend would be (is, depending on your beliefs) happy to see the way that you have continued on and the difference that you are making in the lives of others in need.

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