Remembering a Birthday.

 At the end of the summer of 2004, I lost a best friend. At that point in my life I would have said I had several best friends, and he was one of them – the crazy, hilarious one.

It had been a summer of endless sunshine. Our days were crammed with bonfires, road trips, and movie nights. I was 17. We were careless and carefree and I never felt more independent or alive. Perched on the edge of childhood and adulthood, I thought I had everything figured out. When I look back to that time, all I see is a row smiling faces – dear faces of dear friends – and undimmed sunlight. The coming darkness of August 7th approached silently - without a breath of warning and without time for goodbyes.

Just as July gave way to August, at the teetering point between summer’s end and autumn’s beginning, it happened. I was home alone. A phone call came, and with it, the sudden knowledge of his death. In an instant, he slipped away into a misty eternity where I could not reach him. I still cannot touch the intense pain that overtook me in those moments as I cried alone, and I shudder to remember the tears and the darkness of that night.

His death was an accident and a tragedy, and I could find no answers to my grief washed questioning. Up until that point, my life had never been touched by true, indescribable sorrow. His passing changed me. It woke me up to the hard edges of pain. It was also a burning reminder to cherish each happy moment, for I had learned that happiness is just one small fall away from grief.  Everything I had so confidently thought I had figured out curved and twisted into a big question mark of pain and wondering. The world became an unsafe place, where nothing is certain and you can’t count on anyone or anything still being there tomorrow – except God. 

I thought I would never recover, but gradually I learned that, while the pain of losing him would lessen, a new, subtle pain of “forgetting” him would continuously haunt me. I had to move on, and with each step away from my life at 17, I felt guilty for not lingering in that same place forever, frozen in time at his grave. The numbers etched in his granite tombstone are fixed, while the numbers of my days still continue. Sometimes I feel certain his heart would break if he could see my footprints at the cemetery long washed away. It’s been years.

But gradually I have learned that, while my heart has shifted, truly, I could never forget the boyish friend I had during that time in my life. It feels different, but the love is still there in that place. I may have forgotten the little parts, but I’ll never forget the most important ones. I have clear memories of long car rides, talking about dreams and life and God. And I have the echo of a thousand smiles resounding in my heart, leftover from endless laughter shared and silly jokes.

Today would have been his 25th birthday. 
Today I remember a good, good friend.

Happy Birthday, Josh.


  1. So I am wearing an old pair of contacts, and they are always dried out and stuck to my eyes... and the I read this...


  2. Nicely said, Bea!

  3. I love you so much sweety. There is nothing more painful...

    You have the kindest heart I have ever known. And I know that you loved Josh really well!

  4. You phrased this so eloquently.

    These dates come and go without anyone around me understanding the significance. It's not that they don't remember, it's just they never knew...and that's a true tragedy.

    I WILL always remeber how loud he could laugh, and how honest he was. Josh was, and continues to be one of God's most powerful instruments in my life.

    Thank you for remembering this day with me.