Hey Sweetie,

I know you can’t read this, but you knew me pretty well, and you knew that I have done plenty of things in my life that didn’t make a lot of sense, so you would just humor me anyway.

In just a couple of hours, I will go to bed. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up, I’ll pour me a cup of coffee, and I’ll curl up with it somewhere and I’ll think about the day ahead of me.

I’ll think about my parents traveling, and I’ll say a prayer for them. I’ll think about the church service I will lead, and I’ll pray about that. And somewhere in those moments of quiet, I will think of you. I think of you a lot, but tomorrow is gonna suck, because it’s not a day that I want to remember. It’s a day that I wish had never happened.

4 years ago, though you couldn’t possibly know it, you left this life, and in doing so, left this big empty space inside the hearts of a lot of people. A space that can never be filled again. Because it was just for you, and you are no longer physically here to claim it.

I used to feel bad that I seemed to harbor this feeling of loss. Like there was something wrong with me for still feeling it this deeply.

But that’s who I am. I feel everything deeply. And at 34 years old, I’m finally done apologizing for it. It’s who I am. 

The older I get, I’m learning that time does not heal all wounds. No, there seems to be some kind of protective mechanism in our brains that tries its best to repress the memories that hurt us, but it’s not always successful. And even if it succeeds for a while, when those memories do surface, they still ache. 

I wish I could tell you all the ways your life and death have changed me. Reflecting on the kind of person you were automatically makes me want to be better. Your humor and kind, understanding nature got me through an adolescence where we experienced many of the same things from the same people. We went through some tough experiences together. We shared a bond because we were close in age, naturally gravitated toward each other. But we “got” each other. Even when we didn’t agree, we understood. We were the babies of our families, our older siblings gave us hell and we had each other to lean on when they did. We had an ally in one another. 

As we got older, and you moved away, the visits became very limited. But that bond was always there. Every time I saw you, it was as strong as it ever was – unbroken, unblemished by the changes either of us had undergone, or by the factor of time. 

When I got the call that you had been killed……Jesus…..that’s hard for me to type, or even say out loud. Other people “get killed”. Other people leave this world in tragic ways. Not people I love. The shock and disbelief were all I could feel. But as each year passes and I don’t get to see you or talk to you, or I go to church with your Mom and Kirk and see your name there, on a wall, with a date on it…..I just become filled with a profound sadness at the realization that you are no longer here. It wasn’t a bad dream. 

I had never experienced this kind of grief before you died. And sometimes I still cannot reconcile this love I have for you with the fact that you are no longer here to receive it. Your family, your friends – we just weren’t finished loving you. 

But we never would be. And that bond that we shared, we still share it. You were a part of me, and always will be. We shared the same blood. The same last name. And I won’t ever forget you. I won’t ever stop missing you. I won’t ever stop loving you.

That empty space in my heart is, and always will be, just for you. My cousin. My brother. My friend. 

Rest in peace, my sweet Eric. Tomorrow I will pray, as I do so often, that light perpetual will shine upon you. 

Until we meet again.