Always Twenty

February 3, 2017

Dear Griffen,

It’s your birthday! I miss you every day but even more on special occasions such as this. If you were here, we would be going to eat Japanese and celebrating you.

I know that you never left and you know everything I am about to tell you. I’m not sure why but think this writing is one that doesn’t belong in my journal. Hopefully, someone out there will read this, and it will help them in some small way.

Life has been hard since you left. There have been some wonderful times, but there has also been a whole lot of circumstances which have been excruciatingly painful. I know we are supposed to see the joy in all things, and I swore when you left that is how I would live — that I would find the good in everything. For so long, my thought was as long as nobody died I would see the rest as small stuff. I aced that for a while and then life wore me down, but you already know that, too.

I’ve come to know that there are things even more painful than death. Watching people suffer who are still alive is one of them. You know me, I want to fill everyone I encounter with love and happiness. I want to open my heart and give them the joy that I feel inside. You also know the secret — it isn’t my joy — but the joy of the One who made us in the first place.

You showed me that in an instant the people we love could be ripped from our lives — that we must appreciate others while we have them. I learned from you that friends can be the difference between life and death and there is an enormous difference between saying you are a friend and being one. You learned that in the most painful way imaginable and that part still haunts me even to this very day.

It was incredibly hard to forgive those who called you their friend, but by the Grace of God, I was finally able to do it. Forgiveness has come to mean freedom to me. I’m not sure I could have learned that if you hadn\’t made me. Thank you!

You taught me that all of us are broken but not all of us know it. And each of us glues our broken pieces back together differently. I use my pen. Some mend their shattered hearts and souls with a pill, a bottle, the internet or anything to keep them from feeling their pain.

I think our pain and brokenness can change the world, Griffen. We just have to get others to see that beneath the darkness, there is always light. Yes, I’ve had some days where I wasn’t sure I would make it. I felt all alone at times, but somehow something inside me wouldn’t let me give up. I know that was you and God. Those whispers and nudges sustained me.

I will always miss you. Your beautiful smile. Those amazing hugs. Your piercing blue eyes. I will remember the days we held hands and laughed at the silliest of things but more than anything I will remember how you loved me. I’m so grateful that through you I’ve come to know that people don’t die, they just transform into something more.

You had told me before you went off to college that you wanted to change the world. I want you to know that you have done that and then some.

Griffen, you would have turned thirty today, but you will always be twenty to me.

Happy Birthday, My Darling Little Brother! I love you Griffen Lollis — All the Way to Heaven and Back!

Your Big Sister,


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