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Disclosure: This is a fictional letter based on characters from my debut novel, We Go On.
It’s been nearly two years that we’ve had to live without you here. Every second that passes makes me cringe because, in a sense, those passing moments carry me further away from you. But we are starting to live again. We have a sense of normal that, for a while, I didn’t think we would ever have again. It’s not what normal used to be, but what normal is now.
It’s weird to even write that to you. I was so angry with Dad for wanting things to be normal because things were forever broken. But I’m not angry now. When I think of you, I remember so many good times. I can laugh when I think of some of your funny antics. I can cry when I’m aching over your absence. But I’m not so angry anymore.
Dad is doing good. He’s got another year of school left. He left the law firm after your birthday last year. He’s volunteering with a program for at-risk youth in between classes. He’s going to be an incredible counselor, I think you would be proud of him.
Tyler has spent the last year trying to save my friend’s daughter. Ella is hurting and out-of-control, but Tyler just keeps trying. I keep praying over him and trying to talk to him about all of it. I think he still feels very guilty about what happened and I don’t think he knows how to process that. He goes to counseling every week, and he did amazing in school last year. His grades were the best they’d ever been.
I’m sure you’re wondering about Dusty. She’s amazing, just in case you didn’t already know that. I don’t know if you knew I would need a massive amount of help finding my feet after you left us, or if it was a God thing. Dusty is the only reason I got out of bed in the early months after we lost you. Oh, don’t let me take too much credit, Colby. I resented it for a while, I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to go feed her. I didn’t want to leave the house. But I couldn’t let her do without just because of my anguish. I was scared of her, so scared of her. But now we ride nearly every day. My friend Tammy meets me at the barn so we can trail ride a lot. When Christy can sneak away, we go ride the trails, too. I still take lessons with her. I got a horse trailer and a truck about six months ago. I’ve taken Dusty to a few clinics. We went to Liberty Lake in Guthrie last weekend and I took her swimming after our ride. She loves to swim!
Has Memaw been around to find you yet? I’m sure she’s got a long list of folks to visit now that she’s in heaven, too. Keep an eye out for her and give her a big hug. I still regret how awful I was that first Thanksgiving without you. She took it all in stride. I guess she knew I wasn’t going to handle it well. She was right if she did.
I still see my counselor every week. I need the reminder that we are allowed to live our lives even though we have this giant hole in our hearts. I need to be reminded that if today the grief is too heavy, tomorrow it will be manageable. I need to be reminded that despite the pain and anger and guilt and shame and sorrow, despite how badly we want to stop the clock, return to the time we shared with you, or have a do-over with you, despite all of that, this is what we are living. How we are living. We go on from there, and we put one foot in front of the other.
I miss you, Colby. I’ll always miss you. Happy birthday my dear son.