Derek was one of my best friends. He helped me grow into the person I am today. He was one of the only family members to write me while I served my mission. He always told me how proud he was of me. He went to every single BYU football game and always let me sit next to him. He made me laugh harder than anyone else. He shared his Life Savers with me. He came to watch me play at a softball tournament when not another soul was there. He was the only person in my family who I have felt comfortable hugging. Every time I say “ky” in my head, it comes out in Derek’s voice. He knew my favorite band. He always asked about my random crushes. He danced around in his boxers to the Beach Boys when I was a kid and burned that image into my brain. He gave me eight pet chickens for my birthday. He was the only person out of all my aunts and uncles whose phone number was actually saved in my phone. He gave me two of my best friends, Whitney and Jordan. He reminded me about how great my parents are. He would constantly tell me how much he loved my dad. He was the first person I told I was getting married.
Derek was one of my best friends. But, he didn’t come to my wedding. He never even met my husband. Jordan, doesn’t even know who he is. For the first time since I was a kid, he didn’t show up to the BYU game. When we went to California with him, he didn’t say more than two words to me. Instead of him being the only one I ever felt comfortable hugging, I have an actual photo of me leaning away from him. It’s the last photo I have with Derek.
Derek was one of my best friends. In 2018 Derek passed away. I got to say goodbye to him in the hospital and asked him to still sit next to meet at every byu game. He said “I promise”. I hold onto that promise daily.
Derek is still one of my best friends. My heart still doesn’t understand how he died. I think a lot of people consider it to be an accident and I wish so badly that I could believe that too. I don’t. But, whether it was suicide or a mistake, the truth is that drugs and alcohol killed my uncle.
Happy Birthday, D. 💙