On My Wedding

Dear Daniel,

I got engaged a while ago. The majority of the time, I am extremely happy and excited for the wedding. I push down the thoughts of you not being by my side and how you haven’t even met and will never know my fiance. It devastates me and I cry whenever I really think about it. I can picture you there, smiling and having a good time. I know you would’ve been happy for me. I am incredibly sad that you won’t be there and that you’re still gone. I miss and love you always.

On Marathon Training

Dear Daniel,

I ran my first marathon a couple months ago. Most would think completing the marathon is the accomplishment, but I’m more thrilled that I was able to even train for it. I found a post I made 3 years ago complaining about my health and how frustrating it was that I seemed to be sick every other week. Depression would knock me sideways and I was unable to work out consistently. My training wasn’t perfect, and I still had to fight through funks, but I stuck with it for 5 months. It’s nice to know I’m still making progress. I miss and love you.

On Anxiety

Dear Daniel,

Over the years I’ve become better at recognizing when I’ve slipped into depression. What I haven’t realized is I also slip into anxiety. It feels like a less intense version of a panic attack. I get overwhelmed by everything and I can’t think clearly. It seems like I’m going through less depressive phases, but more anxiety-filled phases and I don’t know why this is happening. But like panic attacks, the feelings eventually subside. And I think recognizing the anxiety is a start to fixing it. I miss talking to you and wish you were still here.

On Aging

Dear Daniel,

I’ve noticed I have quite a few strands of gray hair – more than I think someone my age should have. It doesn’t bother me too much, it just makes me think of those before-and-after pictures of presidents and how their job takes a toll on them. Your suicide has taken a toll on me. I miss you and wish you were still here.

On Judgement

Dear Daniel,

I’d like to pretend it doesn’t bother me when people judge me for not moving on as fast as they think I should. Everybody moves on at their own pace, and the people doing the judging don’t have a clue anyway. But it does bother me and it hurts. It wasn’t even said directly to me, but just knowing about it makes me angry. The world could use more of your empathy. I wish you were still here.

On December

Dear Daniel,

The holidays continue to be a struggle. During December I feel like the worst version of myself. I’ve known that I get easily stressed or depressed, but I noticed this year that I also become insecure. I become insecure about myself and my relationships. I start to feel like I’m not connecting with people, that my friendships aren’t strong, and feel myself withdraw and become less social. I start to question what I’m doing with my life and then pivot to thinking well, none of it really matters anyway. I know this will eventually pass. I love and miss you.

Year 5

Dear Daniel,

This was the first year your death started to feel a little distant. During meltdowns, the pain still feels very fresh, but I’m having less of those. This year I even found myself excited for the future (moving back to AZ, buying a house, a future wedding). I don’t know when the shift happened, but I’ve gone from just surviving to starting to live again. A happy realization, but even as I’m writing this, I’m shoving down the pain and sadness from missing you and wishing things were different. I’ll never stop missing you and wishing you were here. Love you always.

On The KonMari Method

Dear Daniel,

In my constant pursuit of happiness, this is another method I’ve found to be helpful. I read a book to help me become better at keeping my apartment clean. One of the main ideas is to surround your home with only things that spark joy – a philosophy that can be applied to life in general. It’s simple and it makes sense – the more good you surround yourself with, the happier you’ll be. And that’s my goal really. I don’t have any great ambitions like building an empire or changing the world. I just want to be happy as much as I can while I’m alive. Maybe that will change, but right now it feels like a huge endeavor in itself.

On Being Afraid

Dear Daniel,

After you died, I wasn’t worried about death. I wasn’t really worried about much at all. I was in a fog – living but not really there. I’ve come a long way with healing and although the pain can still feel very sharp and fresh, it comes less frequently. But as I’ve started getting my life back together and having more things to live for, I’ve started to become more afraid. Afraid that I’ll suddenly lose someone and my life will be ripped apart again. It could happen. Life isn’t fair and there are things beyond my control. And that’s one of the harder realities I’m still fighting to come to terms with.

On Running Music

Dear Daniel,

I created a playlist full of music that makes me happy as part of my running strategy. Inadvertently, I’ve found it’s a good way to start and end my work day (I listen to it as I walk to the office). I pick songs that trigger happy memories and emotions and as a result, I feel better and have a little more energy. I still avoid songs that remind me of you, but maybe one day they’ll make me happy again. Miss and love you, always.