Taken from the palm of my hand.

To The Person I Lost Too Soon

How would you feel if someone you had held in the palm of your hand was suddenly taken from you?


I still remember the day that I found out you were gone. I remember what I had done the day leading up to finding out that you were gone. I remember what I was wearing, what I was thinking the entire day. I remember every detail of the days prior and following the news. I remember it so well that it feels like I live a nightmare every day.

I was thirteen. You were twelve. I had just come home from watching the madrigal dinners at the local University with my middle school chorus group. I had just showered and thrown on a blue Hollister hoodie before sitting down at the family computer. I was trying to be sneaky and check my facebook before I went to bed without having my dad find out. I remember scrolling through Facebook and mindlessly reading what my friends were up to. It was a simple facebook browse until I saw your picture. It was a picture of you edited on Picnic. In fancy purple writing splashed across your face, it said, "RIP Austin, gone but not forgotten."

I remember thinking that it was a joke. I thought that maybe one of your friends had edited a dumb picture and was joking around. I clicked on your profile to further "investigate." It wasn't until I saw numerous posts, photos, and videos on your facebook wall that the sheer panic set in. My chest felt like it was going to collapse. I remember not being able to breathe. It felt like I had just been punched in the throat. I stared at the computer screen in shock. I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. I stared into your now lifeless eyes through the Toshiba laptop and collapsed into a puddle of tears, shock, and sorrow. If I could go back and watch myself at that very moment, I know that it would painful to watch. The silent painful sobs consumed me and my back shook as I gasped for air clutching my chest. The words repeating in my head. Dead. Died. Dead. Killed. Young Iowa boy KILLED. He's dead. He died. Funeral. Dead. Died. Followed by the sounds of tires screeching and glass breaking made it that much harder to breathe.

Thinking back to the November night when I read that my best friend. My first childhood LOVE. Who I thought was my childhood soul mate was dead. He died. It took me a few days, months even to process that Austin Lane Vais was dead. That my Austin, my best friend, my Austy was gone. And he wasn't going to come back. For months I tried to process this. I couldn't comprehend that someone as young as him would die as tragically as he did. I had so many questions, I still have so many questions. Questions that will go forever unanswered. I remember my first true feeling of grief after I had gotten past the shock was anger. I was so angry with everyone. I was angry that he decided to drive to go check his damn hunting traps when he did. I was angry he drove alone. I was angry that I didn't know any details. I was angry that nobody would tell me anything. I was so angry that this God that I had always been told to believe in had taken him away from me. I was filled with this anger until recently.

When you lose someone you love at such a young age, it changes you. Maybe not immediately, but it changes you. It changes how you see the world around you. How you treat those close to you. It even changed how I looked at God and how I looked at death. I was so lost. For the longest time, I had a million questions for Austin's family. For God. For whoever found you. Thinking about who found you still makes me break down into silent sobs. It's been six years since you've been gone. Six years and I haven't been able to move on. What is it exactly that I can't move on from, I don't know. Maybe it's because you were the first person I loved besides myself and you left. You left me. You left your family. It's selfish, I know. But loving you with everything I had and having you leave in the way that you did haunts me. I can't let go of the love I have for you. I can't let go of the memories we have. I can't let go. I can't move on because I can't let go. I get scared with every person I start to love. If I get too close to someone again, are they going to die too? I know you didn't choose this. If it were up to you, you wouldn't have decided to die so young. If you had a say you'd still be here. I can't blame you, but I want to. You make it impossible to move on. To love again. What if the next person I open up to dies? You did. I know it's not right to "blame" you. I know it's not right to be angry anymore. I know that but I can't help it.

Losing you when I did taught me so much that I didn't discover until recently. Losing you taught me to cherish every person I encounter. To tell them you love them when you feel it. Because you never know what's going to happen. Losing you taught me that life happens. And no matter what you do, you can't prepare yourself for everything that life has to offer. Sometimes things happen when you least expect it and that's just apart of life. Another thing I learned from losing you is that life is short. Life is so god damn short. Your life can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye, so cherish this life. Cherish every day that you are given. Cherish the people you surround yourself with. Be appreciative to be alive and live your life to YOUR standards. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. If I could have you back for just one day, I'd say everything that I never got to say. I'd swallow my pride and confess my love for you. I'd put everything else aside and listen to your dreams. I'd soak in the sound of your laughter. If I could just have you back for one more day. I'd say everything I couldn't before.

If you were here, I'd tell you that you looked breathtaking in light blue. That it complimented your brown eyes in such a way that I found myself becoming lost in them the longer I stared at you. I would tell you that your laugh is dorky, but it is so full of life. I would encourage you to never stop laughing. I would tell you how important you are. How loved you are. And that yes, I did listen all the times you talked about trapping and hunting. I would also tell you that you're an idiot because of your unhealthy addiction to energy drinks. I'd tell you that your family is amazing. That your dad is watching me. That your dad has my back and we talk frequently. I would tell you not to worry because we will heal. It may take a lifetime, but we will heal. I would tell you that your dad is the strongest man I know. I would brag about all the conversations he and I had. I would tell you that we got along better than you and I and then we'd laugh.

I wish you'd give me just one more day. One more hour. That's all I want and that's all I need to have the closure I need. I know that closure won't come easy. I can't bring you back for an hour. I know that this isn't how it works and that one day I'll have all the answers I never knew I needed.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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In Real Life, 'Plus Size' Means A Size 16 And Up, Not Just Women Who Are Size 8's With Big Breasts

The media needs to understand this, and give recognition to actual plus-size women.


Recently, a British reality dating TV show called "Love Island" introduced that a plus-sized model would be in the season five lineup of contestants. This decision was made after the show was called out for not having enough diversity in its contestants. However, the internet was quick to point out that this "plus-size model" is not an accurate representation of the plus-size community.

@abidickson01 on twitter.com

Anna Vakili, plus-size model and "Love Island "Season 5 Contestant Yahoo UK News

It is so frustrating that the media picks and chooses women that are the "ideal" version of plus sized. In the fashion world, plus-size starts at size 8. EIGHT. In real life, plus-size women are women who are size 16 and up. Plunkett Research, a marketing research company, estimated in 2018 that 68% of women in America wear a size 16 to 18. This is a vast difference to what we are being told by the media. Just because a woman is curvy and has big breasts, does NOT mean that they are plus size. Marketing teams for television shows, magazines, and other forms of media need to realize that the industry's idea of plus size is not proportionate to reality.

I am all for inclusion, but I also recognize that in order for inclusion to actually happen, it needs to be accurate.

"Love Island" is not the only culprit of being unrealistic in woman's sizes, and I don't fully blame them for this choice. I think this is a perfect example of the unrealistic expectations that our society puts on women. When the media tells the world that expectations are vastly different from reality, it causes women to internalize that message and compare themselves to these unrealistic standards.

By bringing the truth to the public, it allows women to know that they should not compare themselves and feel bad about themselves. Everyone is beautiful. Picking and choosing the "ideal" woman or the "ideal" plus-size woman is completely deceitful. We as a society need to do better.

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