5 years. 1,827 days. 43,848 hours. 2,630,880 minutes. 157,852,800 seconds. That’s how long it’s been since you’ve been gone. Some days, it feels like a lifetime some days. Other days, it feels like it was just yesterday.
I remember the phone call. I remember the way the room smelled and the color of the sheets on the pull-out couch. I remember, oddly, not being surprised when my mother told me you took your life. I remember the agonizing painful cries of my loved ones mourning an unnecessary death.
I remember it all.
There are so many things I wish I could say to change it all, but we can’t change the past. We can only try to make a difference in the present, hope for the best, and pray our hearts aren’t broken again. I have so many words that I wish I could type on this page, but they’re jumbling around too fast and confused. I wish I had words to say to comfort others feeling the same pain I feel, but again, I don’t know what to do.
I wish, I wish, I wish.
So instead, I fight against suicide. I fight against the mental illnesses that take 42,773 American lives each year. I fight for those who are too burdened or too tired to fight themselves. I fight for myself, because sometimes I even ask myself if this world is worth it anymore.
I fight for you because your memory deserves more than a suicide sticker. Your memory deserves to be unburdened of all the unanswered questions. Your memory deserves to continue living through love, not anger. Your memory deserves to fly free and know that we miss you.
We miss you.
I am the walk coordinator for the University of Georgia’s Second Annual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, which raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and awareness for suicide prevention. This year I am raising money and awareness in your honor. I miss you immensely, and I hope your story can save a life.
I would do anything to have you back, but thanks to you, I can make a difference. I like to think that you didn’t take your life for yourself but to make me a better person. You have. You’ve taught me to love with no boundaries.
You’ve taught me that life is too short to go to bed angry or to live too safely or with too much fear. You’ve given me a passion so strong that my body shakes when I speak about it. You’ve changed my life, for the better. I would give anything to say goodbye or to change your mind, but thanks to you, I can change the mind of millions of people.
Fly high Jaay Bird. We’ll never forget you.