I remember the first time we met, Joe. Brunch at Wiley’s on a Sunday afternoon. Spencer and I both agreed to going out for one drink, saying, “I don’t really feel like being out all day” to each other thinking that we would hold each other accountable, knowing we probably wouldn’t.

Upon arriving, I felt uncomfortable. This group that I didn’t know. Sitting awkwardly at the end of the table. Then you smiled at me, those pearly whites, shining at me warmly, and you started talking to me as if we were old friends. Jamye came over and sat next to me and suddenly I felt a sense of belonging at this table of strangers.

Jamye and I went outside to smoke and when we came inside you laughed with Spencer about how badly we smelled. Jamye and I didn’t care. We shrugged it off and ordered another pitcher.

When the group decided to go to Tommy Jacks, I crawled into your backseat, without hesitation, and turned on Battlefield by Jordin Sparks. The three J’s screaming along in our very own carpool karaoke is a vivid memory I’ll cling to.

Those three minutes were all it took for me to realize that you were a light in this dark world. It didn’t matter whether I wanted to participate in Sunday Funday or not. It didn’t matter that all three of us fight demons, alone, every day. It didn’t matter that we’d drank way too much to be driving. All that mattered was the light I felt in your presence. The three of us belting a pop ballad with the windows rolled down.

This little light. That’s how I will remember you. This is how I will describe you when people ask. This little light — that’s what I will tell Jamye gives me strength to carry on and that’s what I hope we will find out of the darkness that you have left in our lives since you passed. Keep shining, you magnificent little light.

Communicator. Educator. Empath. Survivor. Writer.