I hate September 20th. It's a day that taunts me for months and turns my stomach inside out. It's the day Bud & Wendy died. That day, 10 years ago, changed my life and the lives of so many others. I know September 20th is just a date on a calendar, but it's one my mind and heart have decided to circle, to focus on, to never move past with ease. It's a hard day. I fear sounding selfish in saying that. Bud & Wendy were survived by children, by older siblings, by closer-by-blood family members than I, and I can only imagine the weight this date carries for them, considering the crushing feeling it gives me every year.
They say it gets easier. My father lost his, my mother lost a sister tragically. They've told me you never move past it, you just move on. I've had to try to figure out how to move on more than than one should. Death & loss have been predominant themes in my life, and predominant factors in who I am. Those themes define why I work so hard, maintain so much focus, keep so many people at a distance.
But death and loss aren't just mine to bear. They linger around us all, haunt each and every one of us. We've all experienced death, or at least the loss of something we wish we hadn't lost. They are universal themes. So while today I mourn, I also take comfort in knowing many mourn with me.
But you know what? Screw mourning. This day has already taken way too much from me, from us. The Bud & Wendy I knew stood tall in the face of adversity. So while it's unrealistic to pretend I'm fine, it's not unrealistic to find joy from pain. Jon Foreman said it poignantly when he sang, "every lament is a love song..."
I loved Bud & Wendy. They built me up when I felt no one else could. They gave me reason to smile when all I felt was bitter and dark. I celebrate them for that. I joke about being a jerk these days, but I used to be a real one. Bud & Wendy are why I'm not. They put me on a path to releasing bitterness, to opening myself to a life I wouldn't despise any longer. I have more to say about that, but I've chosen to write a private letter for them.
Publicly, I'll add that the Coate the world knows now was heavily influenced by the love and care I felt from these two, long ago. My life is less because of their loss, but so much more because I knew them at all.
So today, I cry. I hurt. I hang my head. But I celebrate too. I celebrate my life being touched by theirs in a profound way. If you knew Bud & Wendy, share a story about them below. If you didn't, share a story about someone who you loved, then lost.