Today is his 16th birthday. Or it would’ve been, except for this:

A year ago he took his own life.

Josh. A good, sweet boy. Soccer star. Friend to everyone. And lover of Jesus. Like trying to work a puzzle with missing pieces, his mom Cyndi is left behind with empty arms and endless questions. Why? WHY? Only that morning he’d asked for extra snuggle time, talked about seeing a movie with friends. What happened between 8 am and 3 pm to cause despair to steal his innocence and breath?

I rarely cry in public, but at Josh’s funeral I lost it. Heartbroken, I fumed with questions …

How could You let this happen, God?

Why didn’t You intervene, bring someone home just a few minutes earlier?

Hasn’t she dealt with enough heartache already? Where ARE you?

His soccer uniform, school pictures, and old photo albums sat silent on the table. The reality of life’s fragility sucked the air out of my lungs. And God’s silence on the matter too much.

Cyndi has rehearsed the events of that day and those leading up to it over and over again, trying to make the pieces fit, trying to connect with her son’s heart and thoughts on his last day of life. But it remains a mystery. Her grief runs deep, and not a day goes by she doesn’t wish for one more morning with a little extra snuggle time.

In the face of so many unanswered questions, however, Cyndi is anything but bitter. In the past year since Josh’s death, several other local parents have found themselves facing the loss of a child. And guess who’s been front and center leading the way? Holding hands, whispering words of God’s love, and allowing those who struggle to crawl broken and bleeding through the mire of suicide.

Cyndi, my friend, this post is for you. First, to acknowledge the rare and precious life of your little boy. Josh was–IS–a gift. And his life continues to leave its mark.

And second, THANK YOU for being one incredible woman. For daring to live in the face of death. For living so far beyond yourself every single day, hanging on to a loving God with two hands even when you don’t understand, and making sure every other mom with empty arms knows she’s not alone.

You are my hero. And I love you.

(If you or someone you know is dealing with the reality of suicide, please contact me. Both Cyndi and I are here to help.)

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