Alex is an OSU student and LOSS volunteer. She lost her dad, Mark, to suicide in June 2017, one year ago today.

365 days. I made it.

365 days ago I would not have believed that I would be here. I wouldn’t have believed that I could make it, but here I am. A year ago I lost my best friend, and I feel like I lost a part of myself. I have started to rebuild, but it would be naïve to think I will ever be the same. Time is so warped to me now. I feel like I lost my dad a lifetime ago, and some days, I feel like it was just yesterday. I take steps—many forward, and a lot of steps back—but I slowly make progress.

In the last year I have learned what true pain is; pain so deep you can physically feel your stomach drop and heart break. I’ve learned how to survive the sting of betrayal, the deepest sadness, the strongest anger, and the greatest confusion. I’ve learned how to survive the lowest of lows, but I’ve also learned how to appreciate the highs and the feelings of true happiness. I used to think I would never feel happy again. It took me a long time, but happiness started to trickle back into my life. I learned that the baseline of life isn’t always happy, and in that way I feel like I’ve lost my innocence, but at the same time, I’ve gained so much wisdom (even if I didn’t ask for it).

I feel as if I live a completely different life now. So much has changed, and I find myself getting lost in the present more than in the past lately. It is part of my healing and continuing to live my life, but it scares me. A year ago I thought I wouldn’t make it through the day. I have lived through more pain than I ever imagined going through as a 21-year-old, but once again, I lived. It scares me that I have a future that I look forward to because only a year ago a future didn’t seem possible. I lived minute by minute and imagined my future would be just as painful as those days.

Now, I smile and I laugh and I love every single day. I get lost in the good, and sometimes, I feel guilty for that. I go from so high to so low, knowing that I am happy but feeling as if I don’t have a right to be. I feel guilty that I make future plans without my dad in them, but I have to remind myself that he will always be in the plans in some way.

Passing the one year is hard, and it sucks. There is no sugar coating that. The last few months I have been focusing on celebrating my dad’s life, and I don’t think a hard day should change that for me. He taught me to live life to the fullest, and that life is short. He taught me to eat the extra cake, drink the extra beer, and do what makes me happy. My dad put so much effort into making me happy that I don’t think he would want me to live my days feeling sad.

On June 5th I will think about his jokes about my crop tops and how not even a toddler would fit in them. I will think about all of the times I called him just to talk when I was bored or walking home alone. I will think about how he always took my side in an argument with someone, even if I was being completely irrational. I will think about all of the times he lifted me up when I was down. Most importantly, I will think about the unconditional love he always showed us.

I try to celebrate the life I lived before,