Happy 21st Birthday Rob

Happy Birthday Rob,
Today, you would have been 21 years old. It seems like it has been forever since I have seen you. I long to hear your voice and see you walk through the door. I still cannot believe that you are gone. So much has happened, and so much has changed since we saw each other last.
I am still desperately trying to get my feet back on the ground. Losing you has made it impossible to continue my life as I once knew it to be. It is taking time to accept and come to terms with…that who I used to be is now just a “used to be.”
I have always believed that if I do my best and never give up, things will somehow work out. I also mistakenly thought that as long as we were in the safety of our home, all would be good. Your death has taught me a hard and very painful lesson; sometimes, no matter how hard we try, bad things can happen.
I still remember that day…..
It was beautiful out! I got up, worked out, went for a run and showed a house. As far as I knew, you were upstairs, asleep in your bed. I remember making lunch and talking with Leah when Meaghan came over. The three of us talked for a while, and then Meaghan went upstairs to wake you up. That was the last moment of my “normal”. When I heard Meaghan scream, I knew. I ran upstairs. Meaghan and Leah were screaming and crying. I took one look at you, and I knew it was all over. All I could think was, Get me the hell out of here, I cannot see my baby dead! I couldn’t get out of the house fast enough and I never wanted to go back.
I still don’t know how your father went to you, pulled you off of your bed and gave you CPR. There was blood and vomit everywhere. He knew you were gone, but also knew he still had to try and save you. He knew that if he started CPR, the paramedics would have to continue it. Dad will never know how much I think about that; how it must have been for him. I can imagine that he struggles terribly with reliving that memory. I am forever grateful that he did everything he could to save you. He even stood over you and said a prayer for all of us. It was too much for me and Leah; we couldn’t watch them take your body away.

After that day, everything changed. Our family fell apart. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for people to come together and grieve for a shared traumatic event. We all went into self-survival mode and started living individual lives.

And now….
Things have gotten quiet. The reality of our new life has really started sinking in. There is a constant emptiness in me and a part of me is forever gone. There are periods when my life is dark, and it feels impossible to find my way out during these times. Not only did I lose you; I lost myself and that part is bitter sweet. I have changed so many things in my life, and I truly understand life and what matters most. I didn’t make a conscious decision to change, it just happened. Loss breaks us down, redefines us and creates something new.

We talk about you all the time. We laugh at all of the funny things you did and said, we get mad at you for leaving us, and we ache for you constantly. Meaghan is still such an important part of our family; she always will be. It always drove you nuts that we were so close with her, but I know you are happy about it now. Katie and Kylie are so awesome! I couldn’t ask for better nieces. They visit all of the time, and they always make sure that we are doing okay.
I am able to see the incredible gift that I have in your sister. She is amazingly strong, she is beautiful, and she is taking life on with passion. I am MORE than proud of her. She misses you so much Robert. You were her big brother, her protector and her best friend. In spite of all of her loss, she never gives up. I hope that you are able to watch over her and protect her.

Rising Above Addiction has already taken 32 people off of the streets and gotten them straight into detox. Your death gave birth to this foundation, and because of you, lives are being saved. People are
Jumping out of planes because of you! Your memory will continue to live on through this foundation, and we will continue to do outrageous things in your memory to help raise money.

So, in anticipation of your upcoming birthday….
There is no way not to be sad, and I have learned that it is okay to feel whatever emotions come. It doesn’t mean that I am not strong, and it doesn’t mean that I am not a survivor. I am incredibly strong, and I am most definitely a survivor. I have been through the worst, and I am surviving it. Sometimes I am okay, sometimes I laugh, and sometimes I even feel happiness.
So, Happy Birthday to “one” Beautiful Soul! I will honor you, I will cry for you and I will celebrate you. You will NEVER be forgotten, and you will forever be loved.

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