Last Saturday marked a year since I’ve seen you. A year since I felt you hug me. I didn’t cry, not until now at least. I didn’t feel like I deserved to. You left behind a wife and a bundle of children, and I was just a teenage girl from down the street who found solace in your home so many years ago. Who am I to be so utterly affected? It felt selfish I guess… But that doesn’t stop the tears from coming. I think about it and I’m so happy that you got to see me grow up. I’m so happy that you got to see the beginnings of my own little family. And I’m so grateful I got to see you that last time….But something was different. It didn’t feel natural like it usually did. It felt…like there was a million worlds between us but our arms reached towards each other out of habit.
I will never forget it. I will never stop thinking about how I should have known…how I should have hugged you tighter, held on a little longer, asked “how are you?” with more intent than just something to fill the space between us before shuttling the kids off to the next house for another piece of candy.
But never, not in a million years would I have thought it could be you. Never.
It’s been a year of questioning everything I thought I knew. A year of desperately trying to hold onto a testimony through the devastation and testing of my faith. It’s been a whole year and I never knew that would be the last time. I never knew that I’d never see that dang toothpick hanging out of your mouth. A year since I would look down the street and see the oh so familiar button up shirt and perfectly groomed hair that warmed my heart because of everything that you meant to me.
You and your family…you held me together. Your home was a place where my pieces didn’t feel like they were falling apart for a little while. Your home was a place where I was safe. I never did, nor would I ever have been able to say thank you enough for shining a light for me so I could find my way out of the hole I had fallen into.
When I reached the funeral home, my feet failed me and I couldn’t do anything but sit…and wait….I couldn’t go in. I needed to go in. I finally mustered up whatever it is you muster up to walk into something like that, and waited in a very long line to give my condolences to a family I hadn’t seen in years. I waited in a line full of people who loved and adored you, just to finally have your wife hold me while both of our hands remained on the top of your casket as if there was some way you could reach out and hold us, just one last time. When I should have been lifting her up, she was strong enough to comfort me, to tell me the words that will forever be imprinted in my being. “He loved you like a daughter.”
The loss of you, has affected me so entirely, so permanently. And what they say is true, I mean, life goes on for the rest of us. It does. And time does make it seem a little easier to push the anguish away and try to only remember the happy goofy times and watching your ridiculous dance moves while you waved your hand above your head and yelped “WOO!” while we all just sat around and laughed.
You and your family’s faces were the first I’d search for if I was visiting my mom. The example that you were to me, who I portrayed you to be in my memories of memories, well, you were the hero. And not one word that anyone says about you or the mistakes you made during your time here on earth will ever, ever change how much I loved you and how much I absolutely looked up to you.
A whole year. I miss you now and I will forever, until I get to see you again and maybe konk you on the head at least ONCE for leaving us all too soon….but not because I haven’t forgiven you, only because it’s just hurt so much…