First off let me start this post by saying Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! I’m thankful to have all of you reading my blog!

In addition to today being Thanksgiving, it is also my friend Todd’s 27th birthday. But in my eyes, Todd will forever be 17.

For those of you who don’t know, Todd used to be a good friend of my sister and I. He grew up in the same town as me. Unfortunately, Todd committed suicide 10 years ago, when he was just 17. His suicide came as a complete shock to me and everyone that knew him and it was the inspiration for my novel, Escape.

I think about Todd every single day. Not just on his  birthday or the anniversary of his suicide. I never stop missing him or wishing that things could have been different. It never gets easier to accept that he committed suicide,if anything, it gets harder.

I think about how his life would be now if he never made that one bad decision that cost him his life. He would be 27 today. I imagine he’d be married with at least one child, probably a son. He would have made a great husband and father. He was a very loyal, defensive kind of person. I think about what kind of job he would have had. He was both very intelligent and hard working. I know he would have been successful. For some reason I think he could have been a successful accountant for a fortune 500 country.

Or maybe he wouldn’t have been an accountant at all. He was a great soccer player back in his day. I don’t see why he couldn’t have pursued that further in college and possibly even gone pro. Hey, anything’s possible, right? Who’s to say he couldn’t have been the next David Beckham?

Being Todd’s birthday, I am a bit sad today. Sad that he cut his own life way too short. That I can only imagine and play the “what-if” game about his life. His life ended before it had a chance to begin. No one will ever get to see him be that loving husband or protective father. We’ll never watch him be a successful accountant or pro soccer player. He’ll always just be that 17 year old student at Pitman High School.

But with today being Thanksgiving, I’m also feeling thankful and blessed. I’m thankful and I feel blessed that I got to know Todd during his 17 short years of life. I only wish I had more time to get to know him even better. I have been blessed to see Todd’s smiling face and to have worked with him as a camp counselor for one summer. I’m thankful for the way he acted as a friend to my sister, a supporter, and a listener during times when she felt she had no one. Todd was one of the best friends she ever had.

I’m inspired by Todd. His story is very sad and never should have unfolded the way that it did. But now I see just how short life can be. I’m inspired to make the most of it and to never give up. I’m inspired to take action against suicide…to encourage others to talk about it. I believe that if Todd had talked about it, the way he was really feeling (which was completely hidden from everyone), he might still be here. I’m inspired to work to make sure this never happens to any of my other friends in the future. One friend dead from suicide is far more than enough.

Happy Birthday, Todd. I know you’re looking down on us from heaven today. I just hope you know how thankful and blessed we all are to have known you. You made such a strong impact in your 17 years of life and I can’t wait to see you again some day.