I’m writing this as I stand at the intersection of turmoil and fate, in search of some meaning at the news of your passing.
It has been a profound week for me. For the past three years, I have built community with and poured my all into the non-profit Invisible Children, seeking to end the violence of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. Then, I recently transitioned to join another incredible community and team here at To Write Love On Her Arms.
Once again, I found myself setting out to travel coast-to-coast and start a new chapter. Along the way, I was met with familiar faces and old friends. It’s strange but fitting how, since I accepted the position at TWLOHA, many friends and even strangers have come forward with powerful stories of their struggles, fears, and triumphs. As my cross-country trip progressed, there were late night conversations filled with the anticipation of all we might achieve in this lifetime, as well as the insecurities and fears that try to consume us. I completed my journey with my heart full, grateful for the friendships I’ve built and for their honesty, vulnerability, integrity, and passion for life.
But in an unexpected twist, on my very first day on the job at TWLOHA, I received a phone call from my dad, the kind no one wants to get: “Nate passed away yesterday,” he told me.
To hear that the troubles of this life became too much for you to bear breaks me. Just last Christmas, your father was standing in my kitchen, and I asked, “How’s Nate?” He spoke of your search for a new chapter and the struggles that came with it, but I never once thought to take an extra step to actually ask how you were doing personally. For that, I’m forever sorry.
It is evident you had a significant impact on your friends and loved ones in this life. Your chuckle and kindness is unmatched, and you have shown me the beauty of life and the unbreakable bonds of loyal friendship. As I reflect on your passing, a few important thoughts come to mind, things I hope every person can know to be true:
1) Strength comes when you tear down your walls, not build them up.
2) Every person is fighting a battle.
3) We each deserve to be seen, loved, and valued.
4) Lead life with your heart five feet in front of you. Live to love others, pursue your dreams, and chase the opportunities that sing to you.
5) Live in the present. Don’t be frozen by the anxiety of future consequences. Simply embrace the victories and battles as they come.
I love you, brother. I’m inspired today to remind my friends to take a moment and tell the people they love just how much they mean to them, to reach out to someone who might need to hear that they matter.
I believe we will see each other again at another crossroads in the journey through this universe—and until that day comes, I’ll be marching onward. For now, I will honor your legacy and this time of hardship by letting it act as fuel to the fire, forging new ground to give those in need a beacon of hope.
Your Friend Always,