Maia woke up early in the morning, her back aching. Age was certainly catching up to her. In her early fifties, her children had all left the house several years ago.
At first, it had been strange, the empty quietness of just her and her husband. But eventually, she'd gotten used to the silence, and she enjoyed it.
She rolled over on the bed to see her lovely husband, Abu, still snoring like a chainsaw.
She realized she couldn't go back to sleep, so she moaned as she sat up in the bed, back popping. Maia slowly walked out of the bedroom and down the hall to the living area.
Realizing she hadn't brought in the mail yesterday, she walked outside in her bathrobe and slippers to bring it in.
The fresh air was nice on her face, and she breathed in deeply. The morning was beautiful, the air crisp, and the world quiet. Opening the mailbox she pulled out the cluster of mail.
As she walked back, she sorted through it. Mostly advertisements and bills, one letter caught her eye. It said it was from her son Tristan.
A broad smile crossed her face. She hadn't heard from Tristan in over a year. Shouting happily, she ran inside, whooping and hollering.
Abu came out of the bedroom, a sour look on his face from being woken up.
"What is it Maia?" he asked. "Why are you so excited?"
"We got a letter from Tristan!" Maia exclaimed. "Come on, let's read it. We haven't heard from him in so long."
"Fine," Abu grumbled. "I just hope he's got a valid excuse for ignoring us for more than a year."
The two of them sat down side by side on the couch as Maia opened the letter. They started to read it silently.
Hey Mom, Dad. It's me, Tristan. I am really sorry I didn't ever come to visit much. But this isn't why I'm writing to you.
I'm writing to explain to you part of why I made the decision to end my life, and what part you contributed.
Maia's chest suddenly felt pained. This wasn't a letter from her son catching them up on life. This was his suicide note. Tears started to gather in her eyes, but she continued reading.
I want you to understand what it was like growing up in our family. I felt unloved. We never said 'I love you' around the house.
And we constantly fought, even over petty things like who's job it was to do the dishes. Nobody ever seemed to apologize, nobody ever admitted when they were wrong.
And it only got worse at bigger family functions. Whenever we got together with the rest of the family, everybody just fought and fought. It wasn't even over current things.
Our family fought over grudges from decades ago.
Maia had never considered how much their family fought. She'd grown up in a household that fought their feelings out.
She'd always been under the impression that it was completely normal for a family to have their disagreements and not resolve them.
And because of that, she'd forced that environment on her own children. The letter continued.
But I don't want to be like that. I don't want to go to the grave with a grudge against you two. If nothing else, I want you to learn a lesson from my death.
I killed myself because I felt unappreciated, unwanted, and so I unlived. Now it's not all your fault, a few others contributed to these feelings.
My only hope is that my death will spark some change in you.
Who else could have contributed to Tristan's death? It couldn't have been his friends. They'd always been good to him, loyal. Unless there had been things she hadn't seen.
Unless maybe his friends hadn't been as kind as she'd thought. She continued reading the letter.
The lesson I want you to learn is this: Love More. I want you to love others like you never seemed to love me. Tell my siblings how much you love them.
Tell your friends, acquaintances, and the world that you love them. Who knows, maybe you will help stop someone else from going down the path I did. I hope you do.
The world could use a little more love. Until we meet again in the next life, Love - Tristan
The words stung Maia. It hurt her to think Tristan felt unloved in her home. She thought she'd provided him with plenty to show him she loved him.
But he'd felt so unloved that he'd killed himself. It hurt her to her very core.
She felt like her heart was bleeding out within her chest, ripped open by Tristan's death and the words he'd left behind.
Maia and Abu cried. They cried for the loss of their child. They cried for their regrets of not telling him how loved he was.
And they cried for everyone else they knew would be hurt by Tristan's death.
"What do we do now?" Maia said, sniffling.
"We do what Tristan asked," Abu said, his voice horse from crying. "We tell everyone we love them. We try to make the world a better place so nobody else feels unloved."
Maia nodded. "We can't let anyone else feel unappreciated, or unloved."
"Agreed," Abu said. "Now it is our job to bring more love into the world. Who knows, maybe we can prevent more people from being like Tristan. Unappreciated, unloved, and unlived."