Life is beautiful. And fragile. And so fleeting.
On this date last year, a beautiful spring day like this one, my nephew Aaron’s struggle with depression–a struggle his family wasn’t aware of–led him to end his life. He was eighteen.
I’m sure everyone in his family and many of his friends could write entire books about how their last year has been shaped by the loss of Aaron. Daily struggles. Tears we felt would never end. Laughter brought by funny Aaron stories. Fragments of information that showed his compassion and sensitivity–acts he never shared because humility was part of his nature. The people who became for us, as Mr. Rogers would say, “the helpers,” and sustained us as we grieved. The people who drifted from our lives, perhaps because suicide is too raw, too real, too close. The unexpected gifts of dreams and signs and moments that make us feel Aaron’s still with us even if we can’t see him or hug him.
In other towns and cities, family members and friends who knew Aaron celebrated his life in their own ways. Some attached letters to balloons and released them. We didn’t write letters here, but Tim helped me pick out balloons.
We released seven of them from the rose garden at Hermann Park: from Tom and me, from Tim, from Aaron’s father David and Geri, from his Aunt Debby, from his brother Daniel and nephews Dave and Steven, from his Cochrane and Johnson cousins, and from other friends and family members–including the dogs–who met and cared for Aaron.
He is so deeply loved and will always be missed.