Dear Hunter

Dear Hunter,

Today would have been your 28th birthday. I wish you could be here to celebrate with us. We are eating dirt dessert, releasing balloons with letters to you, wearing our Star Wars shirts, and watching Star Wars movies. You would have loved it. But you aren’t here. That is something that sounds so simple but took so long to comprehend. Death the end, finality, permanence. I thought with every part of me that I had to grieve you forever. That I had to pay a penance in suffering. I held onto this for so long. It damaged me, nearly killed me.

The pain of loosing you was to much to bear. I lost my brother and best friend, my partner in life. It threatened to take my life and I threatened to take my own. I was sure I would never be able to stand up under the pain. I was sure that everyday would be worse than the last, that the pain would intensify. Then, I realized I needed help. I got a team of therapists, doctors, and family to help me with my pain. I began to talk about you, to process the burden that I carried. The days were long and dark, years passed. I was sure it would never be over. Then, light began to creep in. I reluctantly admitted that I enjoyed it. Joy, that was something that I was afraid to feel. It felt like a betrayal. A betrayal of what I am not sure. It wasn’t a betrayal of my love for you, because I still did. It wasn’t a betrayal of my missing you, because I still did. I wasn’t a betrayal of you, because you are in Heaven. It was a betrayal, however. It was a betrayal of myself.

I wasn’t honoring you, I wasn’t pleasing you with my depression, grief, and suicide attempts. I was creating a monster, an uncontrollable mental illness monster, that wanted to take my life. You, you are at peace. You are walking with the Lord. You are happy. You are whole. Maybe I was trying to honor you wrongly. Maybe the best way to honor you, is to hold your memory with joy. To reflect on the great memories we had and pass them onto my kids.

So today, for the first time, I celebrate your birthday with happiness in my heart and a smile on my face. There is no more sadness. There is peace and celebration. There is freedom from illness and walking in restoration. There is a sense of hope and impending joy on the horizon. There is a chance at a new life, free from the pain of grief. I am not leaving you behind, I am taking you with me. A new day has come. I want to walk on today with your memories in my heart and your stories on my lips. I want to tell that world how amazing you were and how proud I still am of you. That is how I will carry you. That is how I will honor you. Not with pain and anguish but with love and joy. I carry you with me today and always. All of my love. Until we meet again.

Your Loving Sister,

Author: livingwater

I am a 32 year old stay-at-home mom. I began as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that lost my job after battling Post Part Depression, in the wake of loosing my brother. I am on a journey to healing and wholeness despite my illness and want to inspire others. Mine is a journey of love, faith, illness, and redemption. Join me.

6 thoughts on “Dear Hunter”

  1. Ashley, This is Shof. I golfed with Hunter not long before he pre-maturely passed. I’ve got a great picture I’d be happy to send you. He talked about you and your Dad as we walked the course, the two of us. I went to church with you and your family that Sunday morning. It was special because God made something special out of the normal. I saw Brian, you and your parents at their lowest point, and at that point, you all taught me something about trusting God. I talk with your parents just about weekly.They are truly special. My wife and I just had dinner with your Dad, his eyes glowed when he talked about Hunter and you. Bottom line, there are people who love you so much, who are pulling for you so much. I met with you for only a few days long ago and now I watch you live from afar. I pray strength, vision and wisdom for you. But most importantly, I know that Hunter is pulling for you, is praying for you, is intervening for you. Be strong for Hunter’s Air Force, for your family, for Judah Hunter, for the rest of your children, for your husband. We’re counting on you to make a difference in someone’s life.. Shof

  2. Hunter would be crying tears of joy from this letter. I’m sure he felt that there was nothing he could do after his death.
    You see, I feel people feel so much joy when they meet with their creator. They are happy to see people that passed before them, and they are also full of joy and no longer feel any physical or emotional pain.
    Death, like birth, takes an enormous amount of labor, but think of the joy thereafter.
    You have been through a very difficult process, but you will survive because God isn’t finished with you yet. He needs you here on earth for a reason, one you will discover some day. It will take awhile for you to gather strength, but it will come.
    I have been through a similar journey, and at times it still hurts, but with strength from God and a few other people, I’ve survived. My grandchildren have given me strength and I don’t want to leave this physical world without leaving them something special about me behind – my love.
    Years ago, I saw ‘Lion King’ and one song stood out. 🎶can you feel the love tonight🎵. It has stayed with me and those hard memories are not so hard anymore. I’m sure Hunter is singing that song for you now. 👫😘

    1. I love your thoughts and insights Bonnie. I am so glad that you share them with me. They are so helpful and encouraging.

  3. As a bereaved parent, I’ve witnessed the devastating effects the death of a sibling leaves on my remaining children. It is no easy thing for a sibling to grieve. They are often the “invisible” or “forgotten” grievers. Thank you for sharing, for communicating honestly the landscape of sibling loss. You are an incredible sister to your brother Hunter. I hope you write about him more. ((hugs))
    PS – I’m not sure if you’ve heard of The Compassionate Friends, but they provide wonderful support for bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings. (

  4. First, let me say that I can’t begin to comprehend the pain that you and your parents have experienced with the loss of Hunter. As I told your parents, I wish I had an easy button to take away the pain, but I don’t and only God will be able to heal that wound and fill the void. Your letter to Hunter is very insightful and encouraging and I believe that he would agree with you.

    After Moses died and Joshua was charged to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, I can imagine that he felt alone without Moses and maybe a little scared, but God promised Joshua that he would never leave him or forsake him. And God kept that promise! I believe God’s promise to Joshua also applies you (and to all of us). I agree with Bonnie that God has a plan for you and He will continue to lead and support you until His plan is accomplished.

    Ashley, I will continue to pray for you, that Satan’s lies and darkness are overcome by God’s blinding light.

    Jeff Goetz

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