A letter to my cousin. I’ll miss you, Ryan.

Dear Ryan,

I’m sorry that circumstances in your life led you to feel like you had no other way out than death. Suicide Prevention Week recently came and went, and you know what I did? I ignored it.

I’ve never known someone who committed suicide. I had a friend who was murdered by her boyfriend a few years back and try to participate in the Walk Out On Domestic Violence fundraiser my town holds in her honor each year, but I’ve never known anyone–not even distantly–who has killed themselves. I struggled with suicidal thoughts when I was younger and going to the very school you just transferred to. But I managed to break free of all that and I pushed away anything that reminds me of those difficult times; including talking about suicide and trying to give hope to others who are presently struggling with the very same thoughts I once had. I now realize how horribly selfish that was of me and deeply regret it.

I wish I hadn’t ignored Suicide Prevention Week now. I wish I would have talked about my own struggles and maybe, just maybe, you would’ve seen it and never gone through with your plans. I’m sorry that in the short time you were at your new school you were bullied. I know how cruel kids can be. It was a leading factor in my own misery when I was still in high school there. I guess some things never change. I hope maybe now that school will keep a better eye out for bullying. Maybe now they finally realize how serious it can be.

Most of all, I regret not keeping in touch with you and knowing the teenage-you better. I knew you more when you were small. You’re a good ten years or so younger than me. I still remember you coming over to our grandmother’s house and I’d play hide-and-seek with you or build little spaceships out of building blocks for you. I also remember being jealous of how beautifully blonde your hair was. Mine was starting to turn a rather ugly dirty blonde color, but you still had hair that was almost perfectly white.

When I came down to visit my family last year, I was amazed at how tall you were. I still had this image of a little kid I used to play with stuck in my head, but when we hugged, you were a good foot or more taller than me. I was also impressed with how amazingly polite and helpful you were. I know you would come over to my parents’ house and help them out all the time.

You were a great person, Ryan. I don’t know all the reasons for why you shot yourself. I don’t even know the contents of the letter you left behind yet. But I do know that next year Suicide Prevention Week won’t come and go without me taking notice. I’ll be one of the loudest voices I can be.

And maybe, just maybe, someone will see this and decide not to take their life.

Your family misses you.

I miss you.

Love,

Your Cousin Rachel

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11 Comments

  1. So beautifully written, Rachel. 😀 Made me tear up a little. I too was bullied for a long time and I also had thoughts like that.

    As hard as it is, there wasn’t anything you could have done. I’ve unfortunately have had to deal with the tragedy of suicide in my life. I lost count of how many funerals I attended as a result. One thing I’ve learned though, is there will always be regrets and what ifs.

    Your cousin sounded like an awesome kid. It’s sad that he couldn’t see that.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦

    1. Thank you.

      He really was. He was very sweet and incredibly helpful. He kept our grandmother company quite a bit and was always volunteering to help my dad with outside chores.

  2. Honey, I’m so sorry for your loss and the extinguished light of a bright soul. My thoughts are with you and your family. It’s hard when someone is in that place and their mind is lieing to them, telling them this is the only way. It’s especially hard when distance keeps you from those you love. This is a lovely and loving letter to your cousin. I’m here if you need anything.

    1. Thank you, Jess.

      I really wish I could attend the wake and the funeral. Living several states away and being flat broke all the time doesn’t much help in these situations though. 😦

  3. No amount of hugs (or cookies) could make this any better. But I still offer that comfort because, it’s just that…comfort. I was afraid to read this because I’m dealing with my own life issues that revolve around this topic. I didn’t know if I could handle it. But I managed. I want to reiterate what Andrew said. Beuatifully written and so sad your cousin couldn’t see what a wonderful person he was and how many lives he touched. It’s a hard situation to be in and I wish you and your family all the best wishes and healing you need.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re having your own personal troubles regarding this issue, Jai. I offer hugs and cookies in return to help you get through it all.

      Thank you for the condolences.

  4. There’s not much I can really say except my heart goes out to you and your family. And it was very brave of you to pour this out on the intrawebz. It’s made me want to go hug my loved ones.

  5. one of the few things i know about suicide is that it comes from a place of deep pain – a pain that is sometimes too hard to even voice to those who care about us the most. i’m so sorry your loved one was bullied and ended his life because of all the pain that caused him. my heart aches for you and your family.

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