This weekend, I heard some heartbreaking news. My friends' 17-year-old son took his own life after a series of cruel and malicious hazing incidents surrounding his football team. In Dakota's memory, and the memory of my two other friends who have taken their own lives, I am writing what I wish they could have known before they made that decision.
I wish someone had told me this, when I was young. I'll tell you now, so you can learn what all "grown-ups" know: Who you are in High School is so little of who you are in life. Everything about that microcosm of life is an illusion. Don't buy into it! Anyone who is cruel and heartless to you now is of no value in your future. Imagine, for a moment, that this is as good as it gets for their life. In fact, they will probably soon be back to living with their parents!
The people you will remember are those that were kind to you when times were tough. Those who make you laugh. Invest your time in those people--surround yourselves with them. Block out the noise made by people with no other outlet for their heartache than to inflict pain on other people. Someday, they'll be serving you hamburgers through a little glass window.
I wish I could tell you that your worst day when you are 17 pales in comparison to the joy and delight the rest of your life holds. As awful as it seems on a really bad day, you are just beginning to see the fabulous gifts you hold--and what amazing things the future holds for you.
I wish you knew that even when you have made really horrible choices, your life has infinite value. You are unique, wonderfully made, and impossible to duplicate. You are forgiven, chosen by God's grace, and held as a precious gem in His hands.
Your life, your presence, makes your parents marvel at their incredible good fortune to have had a hand in your making. From your first moments on earth, they could never have imagined what an incredible gift your life has been in shaping their life. Your grandparents cannot describe how proud they are of you--and of the legacy you help them leave behind.
Your friends cannot imagine a day without your laughter and smile.
Even in the hardest times, the core of you is stronger than anything you are facing. Your life, your spirit, and your future are wondrous and incredible in ways that cannot even be spoken.
There is a life ahead for you filled with joy and love beyond your ability to understand right now.
You need only wake up tomorrow and see beyond these tears to the possibility of a future beyond all your dreams.
I wish I knew you needed this letter before you left. Every day, in a thousand ways, you are achingly missed.