I’ve been to many funerals in my life; too many to count. I will be attending one today for a faculty member where I work. It will be a celebration of her life, remembering her accomplishments and love, and trying to take away the power that cancer had over her. Many of the funerals I’ve attended have been celebrations. I’ve known some incredible people who have lived incredibly fulfilling lives.
But a few of my funeral experiences have been brutal. I watched my best friend mourn the loss of her sister. I experienced devastation as my mom lost her brother. But the one that was most crippling for me was when we lost Jay.
Jay was Justin’s cousin, and was very close in age to me. I loved him. He went to the UMN while I did, and I would often run into him, and listen to him gripe about his studies. He was so smart. We were honored to have him as an usher in our wedding, and I made him dance with me during the reception. His smile made me smile. Three years ago today during my pregnancy with Lincoln, Jay took his own life.
I have faced depression in my life, but I will not pretend to understand how Jay felt to make that decision. What I do know is that his death changed me.
I don’t think about Jay every day, but I think about him often. Many, many people think about him daily. I am so blessed to have known him, and I wish he had stayed with us longer.
If you are so deep in your sadness that you feel like the world would be better without you in it, know that it will not. Jay made a mark on my life long before his ended, and today especially, I miss him.
Today my kids will be hugged tighter and my husband kissed longer. I will say hi to every student I walk by and smile at more people. I will thank God for holding me up when I couldn’t do it myself. I will celebrate Jay’s life.