As a tot, you had a thick round crown of beautiful brown hair, with a smile that charmed, and eyes that set my mind at ease.
You were always a quiet little boy, but when our family lost your grandmother I saw deep sadness in those eyes. They spoke of deep regret and loss. I cried with you and we hugged each other tightly, with your head softly upon my breast. That was the first major connection I made with you, my sweet nephew. Do you recall what I whispered in your ear? I told you that on earth your grandmother lives on in you, me, your mother, uncle, and even your brother.
I regret that there were years I lived far from you in your childhood, but that doesn’t mean you were far from my mind. But I now know you would have appreciated your aunt during those times. Maybe needed her. I wish I could go back and give you more of that time.
I did move back home and met your uncle. You told me you remembered our trip abroad to see me married. I still have the photos of you on that day, little squirt, especially the one where you removed your tie with a mischievous smile.
It wasn’t long before they discovered your afflictions. It wasn’t long before they discovered mine, too. We struggled, but did so separately. If only we could have reconnected back then, and told each other we understood. Perhaps it would have given us comfort.
As I suffered my last hospitalizations, you suffered your first. We were both depressed for understandable and curious reasons. I grew resigned and then you grew furious. I made my jail at home, you served your time down the road with your grandfather.
Though your time apart from certain loved ones gave you regret, it did reignite our connection a bit. I saw you often in your late teens. Though you were still young in many ways, you had lived hard for several years, as did I, my dear nephew. We compared notes on long walks. You became both like a friend and even a borrowed son.
It hurt me deeply to see you still depressed as I grew stable. I tried to reassure you that the pain would end soon. And later down the line it seemed to for a spell. You returned happily to your original home, and we both did fairly well.
During your reprieve, you found your passion. Through the lens of a camera the local wildlife came alive. It was as if they were your friends and proudly posed for each picture. I saw you as a master photographer, and told you so. With each click a masterpiece was born.
Depression is a sly nasty bastard. Why does it come back when things are otherwise just fine? That frustrates, discourages, and makes us feel helpless. Will life be a never ending series of depressions with just brief reprieves? I bet you asked that question many times. Though you were a big, tall and strong young man by then, the prospect still seemed hopeless. That’s enough to weaken anyone.
There were so many beautiful things in the future calling your name. Did your illness make you deaf to them? Maybe you had hope that even more peace and opportunities dwelled on the other side.
That last time I saw you you clearly counted me among the nature that you loved, but thinking about it now I believe you were saying farewell. We took our last walk to Washington’s rock. I, instead of you, snapped the last photo. It was of you standing tall among the trees with the river flowing in the background. On our return we heard the birds singing. When we reached our destination, we again exchanged sweet hugs. I told you I love you, and you said the same to me. Only one more time would I hear your voice, and then there was silence.
My dear beloved nephew, I will see you again, though I and many others are devastated not to have you now. You’ll be in heaven holding my mother’s (your grandmother’s) hand. I will then grab both yours and hers, with others’ that we loved, and form a circle. The birds will be singing among us. We’ll all do a happy dance.
My sweet nephew traveled to heaven on June 10, 2017.
For mental health support or suicide hotline number, please visit https://birdflight.blog/support-for-mental-illness/