The Gifts He Left Behind

As our family approaches Rob’s 56th birthday, we are reminded of him and how we used to celebrate. Most of time we celebrated at Boyne Mountain where the kids enjoyed skiing; truly his happiest place to be with his family. 

It’s hard to believe we’ve celebrated 15 of his birthdays without him; the kids have had more years without him than with him, and our hearts are still broken.

Today, I’m able to recognize what he left behind, and the gifts we've received in light of our loss. Because of him we are less judging, we understand unconditional love, we talk and share, and we have brought understanding to something so misunderstood through i understand. We also have friends whose hearts we’ve touched, but they have touched ours much more. These are all beautiful gifts that often go unrecognized. 

For anyone that knew Rob, they knew he did not lack passion, his passions ran deep for skiing, food, wine, and the love of his family. He displayed passion enthusiastically and with authenticity, a characteristic I admired yet personally lacked. 

Today, the greatest gift Rob left behind is his passion. I now have a deep-rooted passion; one that fights to make a difference, one that hopes others don’t experience the type of loss we have, and one that encourages and educates others to say, “i understand”. 

This gift does not go unnoticed, for I feel it each and every day. Sadly, I had to lose Rob to obtain it, but it allows me to know he’s been with me every step of the way and once recognized, it’s the best gift he could possibly give and the best one I could possibly receive. Look for the gifts your loved one left behind, they may not be what you would expect, yet they may just turn out to be the best gift you’ve ever received, the ones that can’t be seen but touch your heart in profound ways. 

Happy Birthday Rob! Love Never Dies.


by Vonnie Woodrick

About the Author
Vonnie Woodrick created i understand in 2014 in loving memory of her husband Rob who lost his battle with depression in 2003. Vonnie routinely provides speaking engagements to private organizations and community groups throughout the year in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and encourage education about mental health. Learn more about i understand's "Love Heals" Lecture Series.

1 comment

  • Vonnie, your blog message is incredibly touching. Thank you for sharing. I would love to connect with you more about your outreach to the community, and my role at Spectrum Health as a Clinical Program Specialist for Suicide Prevention. Please contact me at your convenience.

    Jody Sprague

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