He used to be a couple of years older than me. I am now five years older than him because he decided to end his life. As the years pass, he will stay 39 and I will continue to grow older. I still sometimes blame myself. The “what if’s” and “If I had only’s…” never really cease. It’s not as often as it was during the first few years but I can still be overwhelmed with sadness and the regret of what I could have done and did not.

It’s been 6 ½ years, and I believe he’s become our guardian angel. It may be abhorrent to say this but what happened to him has become an unintended gift. His suicide shook me. It woke me up to the preciousness of what it is to be human. His death taught me to consistently have empathy in the forefront of my daily interactions. His lost life helped me realize the fragility of time on earth and how important it is to live it fully, intentionally, truthfully and to be grateful for what I have.

When he suddenly left us in the way he did, it hurled me into emotional obscurity. It was a long journey paved with absolute anguish, from which I sometimes did not want to emerge. I felt I deserved the torment. With time and help from friends, a dear therapist, support groups, and my responsibility to protect my young daughter, I learned to “be” again. As months turned into years, I began to want more than the mere ability to exist. His death ultimately lead me to dream impossibly big, and today, I dream for two: one for him and the other for me.


It could be considered cruel to say his suicide taught me I possessed the facilities to survive. I had no idea I had the strength to be able to overcome the most painful kind of grief I have ever known, to come out of a mammoth darkness, and to once again be able to laugh a hearty and loud laugh.

I wish I didn’t have to thank him, I wish he wasn’t our guardian angel, and I wish I didn’t have to discover aspects of myself this way. I wish he were still here. I wish I could have loved him the way he deserved. I wish I could have done a thousand things differently. I still have vivid dreams from time to time that he is alive. I wake up in tears and wish.

It is not reality so I thank him for giving me a beautiful second chance in life and for giving me the chance to love someone again. I am truly grateful to him for giving me our graceful daughter who has a lot of the qualities I once cherished in him. I am both a mother and a father to our daughter now. I hope both he and she forgive me for the messy parent I am to her. I hope our daughter feels no less because she has only one parent and lost her other to suicide. I hope she feels comfortable talking about her life story without shame.

Thank you, Tomo, for letting us be a part of your life. I hope you found peace and happiness wherever you are.