**Trigger warning: this letter is related to suicide **
Every time I eat an avocado, I think of you. Our last phone conversation -- you telling me about the new avocado tree planted in your yard and about how much you loved living in Costa Rica. I can’t look at a hedgehog without remembering that last email from you -- a silly meme of a hedgehog just meant to make me smile.
In September of 2011, I received the worst call of my life. It was a call from my aunt that you had died by suicide in Costa Rica, where you lived. I was 25 years old, still figuring out life myself. I don’t remember much except the otherworldly wave of pain that encompassed my entire being.
I hit the floor, dropped to my knees, and I cried so hard that day. Tears of loss, of anger, of sadness. Out of nowhere, you were gone. Poof. Just vanished from my life. Over the following five years, I flew back and forth from Costa Rica at least 10 times figuring it all out. Consoling your other daughter who only speaks Spanish, selling the home I knew meant so very much to you, and finalizing your unexpected departure from our lives. I went through all the stages of grief and then some. I still have a hard time watching a daughter interact with their dad in a loving way without feeling the breath get knocked out of me.
I asked the question a million times in vain, “Why did you do it?” There were many days I crawled into bed, heavy with the guilt and shame of wondering that maybe if I had done this or that or said this or that...maybe then, you would have stayed. I wondered if you losing your father to suicide when you were just a baby played a role at all. I always witnessed how much that hurt you.
I came out of that experience of your death a stronger, more mature human who now knows the value of our time here on this planet and the time we have with our loved ones. Like you, I’ve had my fair share of mental health struggles, sometimes to the point of questioning if I want to be alive anymore. It’s not your fault. I don’t blame you.
I’ve come to realize that part of the human experience is feeling the lowest of lows at times, but that we also have the ability to overcome them if we connect with other humans and spend our time doing things that bring us joy and fulfillment and give back. You’ll never know this, but you changed everything about my life when you decided not to Stay;
I own part of an organization called Only Human that you would love the crap out of and together with our group and so many humans, we’re providing support for humans and encouraging them to Stay; Damn, how I wish you could see it.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, I miss you every single day and it never gets easier. I’m grateful for the time we had together and all of the life lessons you taught me when you were here with me. So many memories that carry me through and remind me to keep your legacy alive in any way that I can.
I will never again hear the sound of your voice Or the way you used to say “Te Amo (I love you), Stinky” at the end of every call.
My son won’t get to hear your contagious, booming laughter or the sound of you cranking your classic rock jams up to 11.
I wish I would have the opportunity to tell you to Stay; and that life sounds better with you in it. But you’re always with us and I’ll never forget you. I will love you forever.
Stinky (your little girl)