To a young man that I will always love

dancing with birds

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

31 thoughts on “To a young man that I will always love

  1. amybelle1 June 11, 2017 / 11:44 pm

    This made me cry. Beautiful writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 11, 2017 / 11:56 pm

      I’m so glad you thought it was beautiful. I tried my very best because my nephew was so worth it. He was a beautiful young man.

      Liked by 1 person

      • amybelle1 June 11, 2017 / 11:58 pm

        He sounds it, and he has an amazing Auntie too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. bipolarsojourner June 12, 2017 / 7:11 am

    i echo amybelle. no one person can usually change the state of mind someone who walked in your cousin’s shoe, but you sure the hell tried. i truly honor for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 12, 2017 / 11:19 am

      I know, but it is hard for me to accept that reaching out more to my nephew couldn’t have made SOME difference, but of course thinking about that will drive me crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner June 12, 2017 / 2:20 pm

        surely your pain is intense. it is never easy to lose a loved one. the way your cousin went only increases the pain and adds confusion.

        you tell a story of a auntie/nephew relationship that would be envied by all. the connection you had is unrivaled by many friendships or even marital relationships. with that connection gone, i can understand your pain.

        i may not have known you long, but all i have seen is a loving caring person —you. i’m sure you do that nearly universally and not just or me. you do for me. any spouse, friend, family member or nephew would only benefit from someone as wonderful as you.

        please go easy on yourself. i’ve heard the story many times,”we had the most wonderful conversation last was really nice. we laughed, we played. they seemed to be in a really good place. now, i’ll never talk to them again.”

        sometimes the good one does, that thumb on the scale, just doesn’t counter the shit in their world. truth be told, many times the weight of a hand or even a whole body still wouldn’t have made a difference.

        sure, you can play the “what if” game. that lays blame on you and you didn’t do it.

        take time to remember what you had, as you so eloquently have, miss them, mourn them, let your heart hurt. those are, believe it or not, productive things.

        believe me, i wish your cousin were still here. from the sounds of it, you guys had an awesome relationship. hold on to that, what was, not what could have been.

        note to you: i care about you and the last thing i want to do is add to your pain. if i am offering too many solutions or being to preachy, as i fear i might, do tell me to back the f*ck off. i don’t know your true pain.

        i do know how how too many suggestions can even be hurtful. being on the receiving end, been there, done that, didn’t get a t–shirt. i promise i will not take offense.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 12, 2017 / 5:40 pm

        Hi bipolarsojourner. I appreciate hearing your suggestions and observations. I value you and am so happy you and I have met through WordPress.

        My nephew and I did have a loving relationship, even if we could have seen each other even more. My sister and brother-in-law told me yesterday and today how much my nephew loved and cared about me. That makes me happy. Even if I could play a part in keeping him with us, I hope I played some role in making him feel loved while he was.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner June 12, 2017 / 7:21 pm

        he held you in high esteem. speaking about my own depressive struggles, when i am in crapland i hold very few people in esteem. that places you in an even more vaulted vaulted place in his heart.

        i would say it’s fair to say you can remove the i hope and make it a definitive statement: i played some role in making him feel loved while he was here. blessings to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 12, 2017 / 7:35 pm

        Thanks, bipolarsojourner. I do feel my nephew loved me. Both my brother-in-law and sister told me that today, as well. I told my nephew I loved him often. I do hope that gave him some level of happiness.


  3. pamelascanepa June 12, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    Oh, this breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing about your nephew. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

      • pamelascanepa June 12, 2017 / 1:24 pm

        Just call me Pamela! I met you through Jackie’s blog,

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 12, 2017 / 1:54 pm

        Thanks, Pamela. I’m glad we connected. Jackie is so nice and has such a great blog.

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 12, 2017 / 5:41 pm

      My nephew committed suicide this past Saturday, June 10, 2017. This post is based on a true story. My family is completely devastated. I wrote this post because I hope somewhere he heard me read it aloud in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner June 12, 2017 / 7:13 pm

        ya , i know, the read about your cousin in a tragedy in the family. I don’t see it in your feed anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 13, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Hi Bipolarsojourner. Sorry I’m getting back to you so late. I did not pull my post about losing my nephew from my feed. I’m not quite sure why it would seem to be. Do you think WordPress might have? I would doubt it. I will look into this.


  4. ladycee June 12, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    I am so sorry to read about the pain of your loss. I hope memories of the last day you shared together at Washington Rock will be of continual comfort to you.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mr. Mel June 13, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    A wonderfully written tribute. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joanna Maguire June 14, 2017 / 11:50 am

    So sorry to hear about your nephew. Sending you a big comforting hug across the miles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 27, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      I appreciate your kind words about my post you added to your feature list. I also appreciate how you drew peoples’ attention to mental illness as you did. Thank you


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