A lot has happened in the 5 years since I held your hand and told you it was okay to let go.
I lied. It was not okay. I wasn’t ready, and it was never going to be okay for any moment to be our last. Grief is weird. It’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s extremely inconsistent, unpredictable and at best awkward. So in between my smiles at your picture, my tears at moments you missed, my partial smirks and giggles as I remember your stories, my ugly cry where I can’t breathe because there’s too much drippy snot, and eventually I clean up enough for a sip of a Cosmopolitan to honor you… I think it will always be this way, and that’s okay.
So five years. What I would tell you about those days, if I could sit on the arm of your chair again, holding your hand, and resting my head against yours and you ask me “so what’s going on with my girl? Tell me.”
- I dyed my hair and tried to be strawberry blonde like Mom. Wow, terrible idea. (I look forward to having your white hair someday.)
- I read the entire bible cover to cover. It took me two years and I learned more about God than I could have imagined. (Give Jesus a hug for me.)
- I went to Vegas for work (yes again) for two weeks. I presented from a stage and it was fun and rewarding and uplifting. But the nights were hard. I sat in the garden at the Bellagio one night and cried alone. (I wish I could have sat with you.)
- The hikes! We’ve spent so many weekends in the woods, walking and talking and praying and observing. We’ve had deer awkwardly stalk us, saw eagles and squirrels and so so many varieties of mushrooms. (No, we didn’t eat them.)
- We tried to buy a condo. When it fell through we were so disappointed, but God was looking out for us.
- I wrote more poetry. I wish I could read it to you.
- Mom and I went to Greece! We walked up and down more stairs than any human being in history, ate an abundance of grilled octopus, learned I can’t convert Liters well, felt beautiful, discovered that we love Mastiha, that we hate Raki, and of course drank cosmos in your honor everywhere we went. (Every sunset was a gift from you, we were sure.)
- Almost forgot, we got to fly fancy first class on the way back home from Greece! The seats lay down flat like a bed! We were like a bunch of kids. You would have laughed at us, we laughed at ourselves.
- Dad likes going to our church for Christmas Eve service! We’ve done it years in a row, and it makes my heart happy.
- At work I got to design a stuffed animal two years in a row that helps raise money for kids in our community. His name is Wink. You would have loved him and showed your friends, just like you showed off everything I did as a kid. (P.S. I never forgot that. I loved it.)
- I got to spend time with Grandma drinking German wine, singing together and laughing, before God decided it was time for her to join you.
- Some close friendships faded. I don’t know if I did something wrong. I’m sure I did and I’m unaware. Or maybe both our habits changed at the same time in different directions. I wish I had asked you if that ever happened to you and how you handled it. (It still hurts.)
- Mom and I have baked more Christmas cookies than you could possibly imagine! Every year has been a new record and we’re pretty sure we made 3,500 last year. So much butter and sugar to give!
- And oh the business! So many things to say… Josh moved out of the basement and got a real office! And I left my job to join him! We hired employees, expanded into a new office space and have new clients. It’s an adventure. Some days it’s hard and scary and intimidating and I want to call you and have you tell me it will be okay. Other days are amazing and beautiful and fun and inspiring and I want to call you to celebrate with me. But now every day is with my sweetheart as you call him, and I know you’d love that.
There is so much more. Major moments. Micro moments. Happy, sad and in between. And I’m guessing you already know. You know that you blessed my life and that I miss you.
I want to go back to something I mentioned earlier. The rough night in Vegas. I felt so out of place, in a space that seemed so far from God. And in that moment I wanted to go home, but the first home I thought of was sitting in your chair with you. In the middle of my tears, a friend texted me. She had no idea where I was or what I was going through, she just felt God nudging her to reach out and encourage me. I no longer felt alone.
I don’t believe the bible teaches that we turn into angels when we die. But I know that because you believed in Jesus, you are with God; you’re in his presence forever. And He’s all knowing. He knows my heart, and he knows yours. And I’d like to think that when I pray, you might be listening in. And that you were listening that night. Maybe you nudged God. I don’t know. But do I know these last 5 years you’ve been here.
I know I’m never letting go. I’m bringing you along on this journey with me. The memories, the laughter, the love, and occasionally the ugly snotty tears, washed down with a Cosmo in your honor. And that’s okay.