For Casey David Colledge (1991-2017)

Casey David Colledge, I just want you to know that I’m so grateful to your family today for helping me let go of my anger. I have a lot of memories from the first time we met and remember how hard it was to get you to tell me where you were. That morning was hectic and for our “walk-n-talk” you didn’t want RedBull (weirdo ) but you were really excited about a bag of Fireballs from 7-11.

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So, I’m parked here in front of the 7-11 down the road from your funeral. It was beautiful and you’ll be glad to know your family had amazing support there. Your uncle Brian told plenty of stories to get people to smile and laugh at your lovable antics. That was my favorite part.

Likewise, when I reminisce of our many encounters, my favorite memories are not of today or of that first day I was able to get you through the doors of New Roads to Jodi Bowls’s loving arms… it was the times you called me during your visits home from treatment. Your voice and optimism were contagious and today I was able to lean on your family to help me focus on those good times.

When we first met, you mentioned that my size was imposing, but I’ll tell you now that even if your mom Tina Carhart Colledge barely reaches my shoulders… she is SO much stronger than I am. There were many people in your life whose stature disguised gigantic strength.

After I got the news from your mom, the next call came to me from a guy who is on the brink. He’s about my age and also has daughters. Through my anger and grief on New Year’s Eve, I tried to find the motivation to throw myself back into work. Maybe it’s delusional or an attempt to refocus my sense of failure where I can still make a difference… I don’t know.

I just want you to know that I met him today. I was able to reach Tyler Dallas and get approval for a scholarship in your memory for the guy who will hopefully be a good family friend down the road. I have to extend a massive thank-you to Cold Creek Behavioral Health and both Sherman Robinson and Chaz who were so close to helping you back into treatment. The sister of this guy (who had been scrambling and desperate) sat with him in the car and shed happy tears today knowing that there’s hope.

You made that happen. I wish you’d been here to see the happy tears today. I wish I’d been able to do more for you this time around. You treated me like I was a much bigger deal than I thought of myself. I saw that in the faces of those who love you today. They wanted business cards and help for their own kids and for a moment I felt like some random dude who put on scrubs and walked into the hospital—now unsure of what to do with all the people who mistake him for a doctor.

That was just self-doubt screwing with my head. I know you could relate and knew the feeling well. It’s that nagging voice that keeps us punishing ourselves for our perceived sins and shrinking down to less than we’re capable of.

I’ll push harder today, not because work is a valid replacement for grief but because the alternative is unbearable.

My anthem today and the song that will always remind me of you is “Would You Love Me Any Less” by Charlie Simpson. It may be a little tame compared to what we were listening to last November, but it’s a rainy day and I’ve got it on repeat.

I’m going to hit “Share” on this and go to meet with another family who knew you and adore your mom. I’ll do my best to be half as strong as she is.

(But first I’ll walk into 7-11 and get myself a bag of Fireballs.)

Miss you. Love you, brother.

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