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,
Ashley