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Remembering My Loved One 4 Years After He Died by Suicide

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The last month of the year used to be a time of celebration for Steve and I. Steve’s birthday was in December, and of course there is also Christmas. Needless to say, Decembers are tough for me.

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us.
— Helen Keller

It has been almost four years since Steve took his own life and many of the people whose lives he touched or those that knew of him still remember him fondly. Steve was truly unforgettable and such a loss, not to just me, but to so many others. As one woman said after Steve passed, “I took my first triathlon swim lesson with him seven years ago. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Newcomers will never get a chance to experience his enthusiasm, passion, and support.”

Steve would have celebrated his 58th birthday in December, 2018. It is the fourth birthday since Steve passed that people have celebrated his life by doing something Steve might have done on his birthday: swim, bike, run, lift weights or yoga.

Typically, on or around his birthday, Steve would swim one lap for every year of his age plus one lap for good luck (59 laps this year). Regardless of how many yards or meters a lap consisted of, the overall distance would increase each year as Steve got older. However, Steve did not want his age to deter him and he continued this tradition annually, never setting a time limit for completing his birthday laps. It was all about the joy of being in the water for him.

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
— Thomas Campbell

I was so touched by the outpouring of support for my request to honor Steve’s memory.

Sad to say, I wish Steve could have seen or felt how much people loved him. He impacted so many lives in such positive ways; however, I wonder if Steve realized what great gifts he had to offer people. He would beat himself up, saying he was not a good person or he was not a good coach or a good athlete. You can fill in the blank.  Rather than lash out at others, Steve would always turn his mental anguish against himself.

A beautiful soul is never forgotten.
— Author Unknown

No one ever wants their late loved one to be forgotten. I am so thankful that so many people whose lives Steve touched still think about him almost four years after he is gone. People from around the world that knew or knew of Steve took time during the busy holiday season to provide me photos of their workouts that they dedicated to Steve. I am forever indebted to them for making my last Christmas a little brighter and helping to inspire conversation about mental health and suicide.

A version of this story first published on Slipped Away.

Originally published: July 3, 2018
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