Four years ago today, my oldest boy, my middle child, Danny, took his life.

That’s a long time, on some scales. For me, it seems like an eternity…but I can remember him like he’s just around the corner, waiting to step out and try to surprise me. It wouldn’t be an ordinary surprise. He’d make a noise, his “T-Rex” noise. He believed it was much scarier than it was, but that was one of the interesting bits about my son. He believed what he wanted to believe, no matter what the evidence said to the contrary. I suppose most of us are like that, to one degree or another. Danny just believed more than others.

I miss him terribly. This day and his birthday, November 12, always makes me think of those who were in my life but are now gone. My best friend ever, Brad Pavey. My grandparents, all four of them. A couple of pets, a dog and a cat. (The cat died the same year as Danny, but later in the year. 2010 was bad.) Now, I have added my late mother to the list of people I can no longer spend time with.

That’s the thing, you know. Spending time. It’s been said many times that time is precious, and I believe it. When we spend it with loved ones, it is most pleasurable, and these are the moments we treasure most. No time I ever spend or have spent with any of my family is wasted, or if it is it’s wasted in the best way possible.

I am glad my eldest and youngest children are still around, and that I get to spend time with them occasionally. They are close enough that I could go visit them on a whim. It would be a six-hour round trip whim, but it’s within the realm of possibility.

I will add one thing, and then I will go on with my day: Tell your children you love them. Hug them and kiss them, if they’ll allow it. Don’t let anything come between you and them. Your children are the most precious gifts you can ever receive. When I was younger, my father would tell me I could go to him with anything, no matter how bad it seemed, and he would accept me and love for who I was. Make sure this is true with your own children, and that they know it. Never let any aspect of their lives darken how you see them.

I miss you, Danny. You taught me a lot about love, and it is a lesson I can never forget. Rest in peace, my son.