It’s June…again.

Twelve years have passed since June 7, 2004. Twelve years. Is that possible…? How can it be? Sometimes, it feels like ONE HUNDRED and twelve years. And sometimes, it feels like a mere twelve seconds. I have been without you, Rebecca, for 12 changes of the seasons.

And I miss you. Many people miss you….You were beloved by more people than you ever, ever realized. It’s not unusual for me to receive notes, e-mails, and personal comments from people I don’t know at all but who knew, and lovingly remember, you. And it catches me off-guard each and every time. It’s easy for me to think that I alone carry the burden of grief over your loss…but how selfish of me. You made a lasting impression on everyone who had the good fortune to be in your orbit, Rebecca. You are unforgettable.

Since 2004, my journey has been about learning to live a meaningful life without you…without my daughter. In some ways, I’ve been successful. But in other ways, there’s still much growth to be achieved. Your brother and his beautiful family fill me with joy and pride. Your dad is doing the best he can to live life while filled with emotional and physical pain. He keeps on keeping on. Friends and extended family remain steadfast in their love and compassion, and it’s extraordinarily comforting to know we are surrounded with such extraordinarily good and caring loved ones.

The 11-year-old nonprofit foundation named for you is truly successful. Rebecca’s Dream continues to promote awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases…just as you hoped for during your brief life. Your dream, Rebecca…your dream is being fulfilled.

RD has an outstanding board of directors and an exceptional executive director; it has developed meaningful and compelling programming for middle schools, high schools, parents, and students. The RD website connects people with a brimming abundance of critical information and resources about bipolar disorder and depression. The same superb webmaster has lovingly crafted and cared for it these past 11 years. Our Dream Team is devoted and dedicated to your mission and vision to reduce the stigma of mental illness through education. You, dear Becky, planted this seed 12 years ago, and it has been diligently nurtured by an ever-growing group of empowered individuals.

Yes, stigma does still exist….and yes, lives are still lost to depression and bipolar disorder….yes, more education is still needed…and yes, compassionate understanding of mental illness is a dream still being developed. And yet…I have more hope today than I did 12 years ago that your seedling is becoming a mighty oak.

Rebecca Lynn Cutler, it was true in life and remains true in death that you are a force to be reckoned with…your spirit continues to bring much-needed strength, comfort, and encouragement to so many people. Your hopes, dreams, and wishes live on in your absence.

American poet W. S. Merwin wrote about absence….In just three simple lines, his powerful poem, “Separation,” truly speaks volumes:

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through the eye of the needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

I stitch my life with your color, Rebecca. And through your foundation, your beautiful, colorful thread is connecting so many people…with each other and with hope.

I love you now and forever,