“The” Photo

I have been looking for this photo since I received the news exactly one year ago…

It was a Tuesday morning and I had come back to work from the holidays. I sent an email to my floor at work explaining that you were missing and was hoping they would share this “missing” post via social media to help reach awareness. We had no idea where you were. But you’d show up, right? Everything would be fine, right?

The next thing I know, I am getting a call from my mom. I run into the nearest conference room.

“They found him!” I thought.

Yes, I was right- they had found him. But not in the way anyone wants to find a person.

You took your life and were found in near-freezing weather. The minute my mom called and gave me the news, I fell to the floor. I couldn’t breathe. My chest felt somewhere between nauseous and on the verge of crying (even though I already was). I could barely see; the tunnel vision started. My heart was racing, and the tears wouldn’t stop coming.

Instantly, I began going through all my photos. Every single one I could find. Pictures from holidays, birthdays, reunions, you as a child, and even photos from when I saw you just less than 10 days ago. But there was one photo burned in my brain. I remembered it so very clearly.

You see, one year Gavin received the tightest running pants and the brightest tennis shoes for Christmas. The minute he opened them, we insisted he changed into them. It didn’t take much convincing and soon enough, out came Gavin. Looking just over the top, ridiculous, and ready to run the hills for days. Because that is who he was. Gavin was determined. He was strong and fast and hard working and most of all- he didn’t care what other people thought. He was – and still is – Gavin Mother Fucking Bush.

I searched my computer, phone, hard drives, even asked family members. When I asked everyone, they thought they knew what I was talking about, but don’t recall this photo I insisted upon. But I was sure of it.

I was sure because every year, that picture would show up on my Timehop and I would have the biggest grin. I would remember that day and how much joy he brought to other peoples lives. His light-hearted energy and the fact that he never took himself too seriously- outside of work that is.

Speaking of work, I remember one year he came to plow our massive hill on Virginia Street during a horrific snow storm. He came in for a minute to warm up, eat some soup, and talk a bit. That night, it snowed again. The next morning Gavin was outside our driveway, working away. He came back in, and we talked about the jobs he had been doing since yesterday.

“How do you have the time to do all of this?!” I asked.

“Well, I haven’t slept yet,” he said, so matter of factly.

He had legitimately worked through the night. Rain or shine, snow or (insert some other weather-related noun), he was always working.

Anyway, back to this photograph. I continued to search and search for months until I finally gave up. Every few months, I’d give another try… no luck. That was until I woke up on Christmas Day this year and there it was: the picture. The picture I have been searching for throughout the last year. It isn’t even that great of a picture, honestly. It’s not very clear or well centered. But it brings me joy. It brings me back to this moment. The moment where I am surrounded by family and sitting around everyone, carelessly laughing and loving because we were together and life was good.

Life won’t ever quite be the same now that you’re gone, Gavin. From December 30 until today will always be a little heavier on my soul. But especially today. The day I received the call.

Today and Christmas 2012 will both have a special place in my heart, but for very different reasons. I will continue to look for you in all the things around me: the color gold, anything Polo, a fresh cut lawn, some good rap music, and hugs. Strong, kind, and genuine, hugs.

You gave the best hugs.

If only I could have just one more.

For those suffering from feelings of hopelessness, being burdensome, not loved or feeling like you will never be missed – I promise you this is not true. These feelings and thoughts are your self-critic and disease taking over brain. And this disease won’t stop until it takes literally everything out of you.

But if you are reading this right now, you are not alone. 

Seeing as I have been there, I know you are thinking… “No, but you don’t understand, I am different, this is different.” But it’s not and you’re not; your disease is not you. Even your critic may have convinced you otherwise. I promise that if you keep holding on, things will get better. You will see the light. It may feel like an eternity, but it will happen. You will get there and those who truly love you will fight with you every step of the way.

For those of you have lost someone – whether it be suicide or any other way – you are so strong. Stronger than you probably ever knew you could be. Especially you, Stacey and Josh. It hurts enough losing my dear cousin, but the fact that you have gotten up and made it through each day this last year is truly admirable. You still went to church; you still celebrated holidays. These may seem small to some, but when this is someone who you gave life too, I can imagine it’s damn near impossible. But, like I said, you and many others are so incredibly strong.

It may not feel like it on the days you can’t get out of bed or catch your breath because these feelings of grief (which never have a specific time or place that they decide to strike) will consume you. Life will never be the same. But you will learn how to find beauty in the smallest of things. To take a step back and listen to the world around you. For just the slightest chance that you might hear or feel your person. Your Gavin.

Last off, remember there is strength in numbers. My family and friends have completely amazed me. I legitimately do not know what I would do without them. We have leaned on each other every single day. Whether it be for a long cry on the phone or a simple photo to brighten each others day; I have learned that my family is resilient and my friends are a true blessing in my life. Until you experience the pain (which I do not wish upon anyone), you just cannot understand. If you are one of these people and do not understand, I promise there is one way you can help. Just be there. To listen, to love, to tell them – not that everything is going to be ok (because it’s not) – but that you are never leaving their side and will be them every step going forward.

I miss you, and I love you, Gavin Wesley Bush.

You are missed by many and loved beyond words.


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