When I was 20 and working at a grocery store, my Uncle John stopped by. It was my lunch break, so we sat outside on the curb and shared a slice of cake. We chatted aimlessly, and then he left. I never saw him again.
Two months later, he left home in the middle of the night and took his own life with a gun that none of us knew he had.
I adored him; we shared a love of technology, and he was teaching me to code. We both loved the outdoors and animals. We made pancakes at my grandparent’s house and played video games. He was my father’s older brother. I knew things hadn’t gone well for him at times, but I always admired how he pulled through. Until he didn’t.
I blamed myself for over a decade, thinking there was something I could have done or a way I could have helped. He never got to meet my children, who would have loved him. Every day I miss him. His photo is on my mantle, and I think of him constantly. I honor him by living my life as best I can and trying to advocate for mental health reforms.