There once was a boy who lived in the city. This wasn’t just any ordinary boy. This boy was living inside a man’s body and he sought after the love from passionate women and strong, lasting friendships people write stories about. He had a smile that would light up a room and the looks of a GQ model. He could make you laugh until your stomach hurt with his impersonations and comic-spirit.
What most people didn’t know about this boy was that he carried a darkness inside that robbed him of hope. This darkness kept him from really enjoying life and love. This darkness held him back from really being happy with what he had. He lived with a past full of abuse, drugs, sex, and violence. He carried this burden buried deep inside.
As time went on, this darkness stole his joy and the desire to live. This darkness consumed his mind because he felt there was no hope in this world for him to ever amount to anything, ever be loved again, and he knew he could never make up for the wrongs in his life.
The thoughts that stormed his mind were of how the world would be better off without him. The pain he felt and the burden he carried would be gone if he could just make it go away with one simple choice. His family didn’t need him around because he was a hindrance. His friends didn’t want to hear about his problems. His wife was tired of him hurting her and she would be better off without him and the pain he caused her. At least that’s what he thought.
One morning he woke up with a peace. Today was the day when everyone could move on with their lives and he wouldn’t hold them back any longer. The anger was too much for him to carry anymore. There was nothing he could do to go back in the past to change anything. There was nothing he could do. Except one thing.
He walked up the stairs, into the closet, and stood next the dresser to write his last letter. He shared a few words that gave a hint of the pain he was feeling but also words to release those people in his life he thought he would be setting free. He took a deep breath and tightened the belt around his neck.
He’s gone now and we are left with the pain. The void of his laugh, his smile, and his love. We can’t hold him close or share the day with him. He is not here. If only we had paid a little more attention to him and asked a few more questions. If only we had been there for him more and held his hand and told him how much we loved him. If only he knew how much he was loved and adored. What if we had given him one more tight hug and never let go?
The trouble with being a survivor is the “what-if’s” and “if-only’s” never end. Twenty-four years later and we still ask, “What if I had just told him how much he meant to me?” Would it have made a difference? Being a survivor means that we have to live the rest of our lives with a hole in our hearts and think about the days that we could be spending together with those who chose to leave us.
There are people hurting around you. There are people who are carrying a heavy burden. Let’s do more loving and listening to help those who feel hopeless and alone. What can we do or say to give them hope for better days and let them know “this too shall pass”?