It has been one year, one month and one week since Josh left us all. I say "all" because the loss is felt well beyond just his immediate or extended family. His friends still think about him, miss him and continue to remember our beloved son.
Two such friends came over this week. They had been talking about visiting for quite a while, but just could not do it. Not sure how they would feel being in his home, seeing the pictures, and facing the fact that he is gone. Death is strange that way - the knowledge can rest in the mind, to be put away when too painful or when one wants to pretend it didn't happen. That Josh just went away someplace and will return - with the infamous smirk. The distance to the heart is mere inches, but can seem like miles when reality is hard to accept.
I can understand completely. But I want to say to his friends - if and when you would like to talk, our door is always open.
We had a good visit. The tissue box was near. Although sad, I wanted to hear about their memories: how they found out about Josh's death, what was their first reaction, what do they think now, what other experiences do they have with suicide, what they remember most about him, etc. Our conversation was similar to what I've had with other friends: frank, personal, deep and real. They encouraged me not to feel guilty but I cannot accept absolution - at least not yet. The compassion, sympathy and love expressed by his friends is amazing and so appreciated.
We talked about Josh's Facebook page. They said that people were continuing to post, even as recently as this month. They learned that I had received a copy of the posts right after his death and on his birthday but had not seen anything else. Sure enough, a couple of days later, one of these friends sent me a couple of emails with the rest of the posts. I've read all of them and can see now that his friends have posted when they heard of his death, after coming to see us, at each month's anniversary, during the football season, on his birthday, on the one-year anniversary and at random times - whenever they thought of him. Even friends who are now in college. If people continue to post on his wall, I will receive updates from his friend. What a kind, thoughtful thing to do.
To see the multitude of posts on his wall, even a year later is surprising to me, but in retrospect, it shouldn't be. Not when I know that another of his friends wrote a half page article for the school newspaper called "Remembering Josh: One year after the death of a beloved classmate, students continue to honor him in many ways."
Or when I hear of a lacrosse teammate who is wearing his number, 33, during this spring season. I hope Josh sees all of this and that he feels the continued outpouring of love - just as we do.
Rest in peace, my dear son. Much loved, much missed and still remembered by family and friends. We all wish you could have found another way out.