It’s been a year. 365 days since you died.
We mark the annuals in interesting ways. News Year Day. Birthdays. Now Sept 22nd.
So much has changed.
I see the little things, like the new lamp on my desk that’s lighting up my office tonight as I write, the same Facebook cover picture you’ve had for the last year, your truck parked in front of your dad’s house. I see the big things, such as a new war on the horizon, not going to visit Aldersons since Grandpa died in February, your grave.
Tonight, as I’ve done many nights in the last year, I’m listening to a song on repeat. One I heard first a few weeks after you died. Normally I have no patience for endless repetition but maybe that’s something else that’s changed a little.
“And I’ll let my stories be whispered
When I’m gone…
When I’m gone
When I’m gone
When I’m gone
Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin’
You’ll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing’s ever really
As it seems…”
I could listen to that for hours, thinking of your life, the stories you experienced in 26 years.
But in the past year there were none. We all continued to live, grow and experience our lives, missing you.
I know I’ve changed. For the past few months I’ve been working with a personal trainer. He works with kids in high school football and I can’t help but think you’d be friends if you’d met. Maybe for the first time ever I’m enjoying time at the gym, even laughing (not at other people either!).
I still find myself driving east, away from the “bright lights” of Woodland and into the country where the stars are brightest, remembering that time we sat on Grandma’s front yard until 10pm waiting for a meteor shower that was happening at 2am. You pointing to the North Star and telling me that it was Jamie’s star, where your oldest sister was looking over you.
At the house even more of those baseboards you helped me haul home (what 4 years ago now?) are getting installed. Just 3 more closets and the whole house will be done. When we demoed the bathroom this summer I couldn’t help but think you would have enjoyed that. I can’t decide if you would have liked hearing about my backyard projects having inherited your dad’s green thumb or wanted to relax on the porch swing with a drink, like our grandparents did.
Losing Grandpa felt like the sharp sting of a slap, it hurt, it still hurts but nothing like a year ago (that was more of a punch upside the head, to the gut and then a kick in the face). Grandpa had experienced so much in life – remember the stripper pole he got for help getting out of bed? He loved when the nurses joked about that. I think you would have been a funny, dirty old man if given the chance.
My business has changed a lot this last year. I think you would have liked hearing about clients all over the world, the book I’m writing, or made fun of my videos. I talk more about leaving a legacy now, seeing how fragile life can be.
A few weeks ago I was able to help some guys who are working to get fire academy grads hired. I wish I’d known them a few years ago after you graduated from the academy. Helping them with strategies to reach fire cadets like you was so sweet and I think I met them at the most perfect time.
How do you cover a year in life? How could I even express all the things I’ve felt or seen or experienced? It’s impossible.
A German guy made me laugh and cry a few days after our birthday. He meowed like a cat and it reminded me of you.
The Giants won the World Series again last year, but this season has been so pathetic we try not to talk about it.
Your dad is doing better after his stroke, I know he wishes you were here every day.
Jaidyn is growing up so fast, she’s so smart and sweet. Thankfully she’s no longer biting her cousins.
Your nephew Jake has your initials and looks so much like you did as a baby. Chubby cheeks and all. Dylan turns 3 tomorrow, a day that’s both a celebration for him and mourning for you.
It’s hard to think of the kids not knowing you as they grow up. We won’t let them forget Uncle Justin.
“Well I knew
What I didn’t want to know
And I saw
Where I didn’t want to go
So I took the path less traveled on
And I’ll let my stories be whispered
When I’m gone…”
Selfishly I wish that I didn’t have to know what it was like to lose you. That your daughter and family and friends all were spared that experience. I wish you were here to continue living your story.
But your stories will be whispered, shared, shouted, meowed, and passed on.
Year after year.
Even when it seems like just yesterday you were here.
As it seems.