It is almost 3 months since you fell into God’s arms. I miss you dearly. When I go to make my bed or wash dishes, I miss you the most. These little things have turned into big things as our bond was the most important thing to me in the 23 years I spent with you.
You have visited me a few times to make sure I know that you know that I understand, and oh do I. From our laughs on car rides to praying over your shaking hands on the second floor of the hospital, my love has never changed.
You were bruised and broken. Living a life with two spirits constantly in turmoil. How exhausting that must have been. Now I fully understand the toll that took on you.
I know Jesus snatched you to Heaven. At your lowest, He brought you to your highest. Now there you are in Heaven, restored. Taking care of babies and getting little fellas treats. Helping anyone and everyone as you dance with your mom and joke with your siblings. And embracing your mom and dad was a wonderful homecoming I am sure. The little pieces of you that were taken with each family death were given back, restored.
And to fall at the feet of our Heavenly Father, the one who saved you and strengthened you when all you could do was put one foot in front of the other, consumed with depression and suffocating with pain. I know there was a feast. I know there was a celebration. And I know the Artist whispered to His precious masterpiece, “Patrick, well done my child. With you, I am so very well pleased.”
The promise of Heaven and the restoration of the garden city soothes my heart. Sunday dinners, car rides, birthdays, we will laugh and eat and tell stories together again. It is promised.
This promise doesn’t take away the sting every time I hear the word suicide. It doesn’t erase the sadness that came when I didn’t hear from my favorite person on my birthday. Oh, how I miss you. And how I miss those little things that were big things to you and to me.
But on the other side of the sting, there have been Heavenly signs. A beautiful white blanket fell from the Heavens on my birthday, inches and inches of cold, crisp snow. I know you were smiling and consumed with excitement that it was snowing on a day you always made so special. And as we start our day together, I hear my students say, “This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.” They say it with joy at the top of their lungs like you did.
I sit writing to you in the new house Caleb and I built. We were closing on this cozy place when I received the call about you. It felt like everything froze. Time stopped. My heart stopped. And my mind automatically flashed your face with Memaw’s and then it fell to dust. The moment I turned to face Caleb, he knew my world changed forever. His tender heart could hardly take the news.
It felt like each day after was a step in the grieving process. I didn’t rush to Maryville because I felt in my soul connection to you that I needed to sit in the quiet and embrace my shock, sadness, and bargaining. I also knew with all my heart that you would want me to sling some boxes, unpack my mismatched dishes, and settle into this new place we now call home.
It was in these two days that God brought His presence close to me and showed me my next steps. Putting Diesel’s ashes in your casket was an idea that came to me the first morning I woke up at our new house. It came to me in a dream. You were walking Diesel and said to me, “Baylee, I know you love me and I know you understand.” You and D were bright and shining with joy without weight. No sickness or sadness.
Your soft hands felt the same as I reached over your still body, my heart and eyes wide open. You looked younger, peaceful. I kept whispering to you, “You know I love you and I understand.” And I do understand, probably as good as, if not better than, all who were closest to you. We had so many talks, and also shared many moments and plates of hot food with your friends who walked the same path you did. I get it.
Talking to you and praying over your body, I laughed. And I know you were laughing in Heaven because of how much I was “carrying on.” You always listened and kept up with my crazy. You loved me so well.
Your funeral was beautiful. Mom, Shanney, and Memaw put their heart into every single detail. There were so many people, most I knew and many I did not. This was a perfect sign of how many lives you have touched. The outpouring of your love and grace changed the lives and the trajectory of so many broken souls and families. And to think that you were my BopBop, what an honor.
You would have been so proud of those who stepped up to honor your life with words. Seann told stories and shared his favorite memories of you. He talked about your fear of heights, love for wedding cake, and ability to let out the loudest farts and walk away innocently. He had every person roaring with laughter, including the priests! Lyndsey shared her fight and her insight on this disease. The disease that took your very life. She has her own fight, but you know that. And what a gift it was to me and so many to hear her honesty and transparency. With each hard step she is charging her batteries. Batteries that will give her fuel and grit to light up the world.
Memaw has shown the most strength and grit of anyone. She has chosen to put one foot in front of the other and continue this life and legacy you built together. I know you are her guardian angel, watching over her and sending signs of loving kindness. And she is living her new normal one day at a time, wrapped in God’s peace.
With all of these words, I know it is true that I would not be who I am without you. You taught me what it means to serve unconditionally and to love everyone anyway, no matter what. I will miss eating Memaw’s snitzel beans with you, and teasing Memaw and Caleb together. I will miss driving around Maryville with you, honking at people and eating Dairy Queen.
I know Willie misses you too. I still say your name to him and he goes wild for his BopBop.
The gift of your car is something I still cry about with joy. Some of my favorite moments took place in there, crammed with my 3 favorite people, plus me, and a dog. It still smells like you and has all your necessities like a stack of fast food napkins in the glove box and a Swiffer duster (oh, how I love you!). You are my guardian angel, watching over me and traveling with me every step of the way.
Here I am talking fast and telling you all kinds of things, “carrying on” like usual. I am sure you are grinning your ridiculous, contagious grin. But I can’t thank you enough for all you were to me, my selfless BopBop. You are whole and full now. You are restored and righteous. September 18th was your day of rescue. The dark cloud of depression wasn’t your final destination. It was a stepping stone into what has been waiting for you all along, a seat at the table of forever in the presence of your Healer.
There will still be a void for all of us, one that could only be filled with your presence. But we will see the restored you and laugh and eat again when it is our time to travel to the Heavenly highs. But until then, my BopBop, I will love and serve just how you loved and served me.
I love you forever,
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.” Luke 15:4-5
“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6