Dear Casey,

I’m listening to the playlist I made for you two years ago (well, maybe it was a day or two after this day in 2007), and nothing has really changed since that day. We all miss you so much and are so, so sad that you are not here with us. You continue to be in our hearts today as much as ever, and that’s just not going to change.

The songs that I selected for you speak of love, beauty, happiness, guidance, and returning home. But underneath all of them is that sorrow, that desperate pursuit so many of us share for simplicity, love, understanding, and acceptance.

Since you left us, all of our lives have been changed. Through misty eyes we try to see life and love more clearly, We try to reach out to those in pain and let them know they are not alone. We even try to reach out to ourselves with a little comfort that, yes–this too shall pass.

The heavy weight of the void in our lives since your passing, though, seems like it will never ease. We miss you so very much.

Here’s what I want to tell you. There’s a lot of people carrying you in their hearts, and they are reaching out to a lot of people who are hurting. They are doing what they can to throw them a lifeline, hold their hand to let them know that they’re not alone, look them in the eyes and say “I love you” and “your life matters.”

These people that you’ve touched–so many of them that you never even knew–are throwing out bigger nets, too. It’s not just about reaching out to the ones we know. We’re holding events, painting posters, creating social networking sites–all in the hopes that some stranger who is struggling might come across a sign, a picture, a person and realize that he or she has somebody out there who is pulling for them, somebody who knows and understands what they are feeling, somebody who cares and wants them to be ok.

I am so sorry, Casey, that we couldn’t let you know that enough. I am so sorry that I had to wait for a tragedy like yours and Kara’s to say we need to do more. I am so sorry, Casey, that I reacted after you and Kara left us.

The last time I saw you was at Kara’s funeral. We hugged, and I asked if you were okay and you nodded yes, smiling. But those eyes told me something else, and I should have listened. I should have listened to all you were telling me in your silence.

The pain just doesn’t go away after one year or two, and I imagine that, in 20 years from now, I’m still going to be throwing out that net, thinking of you, and trying to listen to the silence of so many others.

Keep a good smile on all of us, Casey. You are so deeply in our hearts in all we do, and every time we’re able to reach out to somebody who needs a line of love, you are right there with us.

I miss you, we all love you, and forever you will be with us, Casey. ❤

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