We were both just 28 years young when you died. Do you remember how I used to tease you by telling you that you were in your prime and that it would all be downhill from here? Somewhere, in an article most likely lacking any kind of empirical research or actual quantifiable data, one of us had read that men “peak” at 28, while women don’t until their mid thirties or so. As per our usual banter, I’d remind you of this constantly. I’d playfully call you an old man even though you were only a whopping 5 days older than me. Leave it to you to go out at the top of your game – I really shouldn’t even be surprised. Of course I say this jokingly, and yet, I know that somewhere you are smirking to yourself every time you catch me plucking a newly discovered gray hair or making funny faces in the mirror to assess the progression of my crow’s feet.
WE were at the top of our game.
So many years of hard work and dedication to get to where we were, and so much to experience ahead. We had the careers we wanted, our dream home, and our baby boy on the way. Everyone knew you’d soon be a lieutenant, and that you’d continue climbing the ranks in years to come. Everything was seemingly falling into place and life was following our perfectly orchestrated little plan.
Until the unthinkable happened.
I am now living a completely tangent life. When I really stop and think about it, I still almost can’t believe it. So often I ask myself what you would say about the countless changes I’ve undergone since your physical departure. Sometimes I wonder if you’d even still recognize me at all. But then I am reminded that you always knew my heart, and that hasn’t changed a bit. Whenever there is a whisper of doubt, a voice from deep within my spirit tells me how proud you are of me.
Here’s what I believe you already know: I’m happy. I have my struggles and my bad days, life keeps on swinging, but I’m happy. I really, truly am. I miss you always and your name continues to roll off my tongue like butter, often still in the present tense. You are spoken of daily and your son knows very well who his Daddy in Heaven is, although he’s been blessed with a Daddy on Earth who loves him the way you would have. I know that you take comfort and can rest easier knowing that I found a man who loves and cherishes me the way he does.
I imagine you, wherever you are, forever in your prime.