It’s been two years since you went missing from my life and I feel compelled to say something to mark the day...but I still find myself at a loss for words.
I finished residency in June – and even though you would have made some snide or off-beat comment about the moment – I think you would have been happy for me. I really think you would have gotten a kick out of the send-off my mentor gave me at my graduation dinner. After all, who doesn’t love the strumming of a ukulele? And I still think that you would really have loved Vermont. After all, you always loved ice cream and Phish – and Vermont is pretty well known for both of those things. Ben and Jerry’s even managed to combine them both into something pretty spectacular. We would have had a good time sightseeing there, you and I.
I sit around some days and think about all of the fun we might have had together over the course of the next 50 years, if things had only turned out differently. There were a lot of things we might have shared, a lot of memories we might have made. But now there are just a lot of things to miss. The worst part is that I didn’t even know how much I was looking forward to sharing these moments with you until the opportunity was yanked away. I always thought you’d eventually find a nice girl and settle down and I looked forward to dancing at your wedding. I was excited to gain a sister. I looked forward to being an aunt to the children you might have had. And as Chris and I casually contemplate the idea of children, it hurts tremendously to think that any children that we might have will never know you. You were really good with children and I know that you would have been a pretty great uncle. It makes me so very sad that they will miss out on knowing you, and if/when the time comes, I don’t even have a clue how to show them who you were, how to make them love the ghost of someone they’ll never meet.
Looking at what might have been generally makes me also look back to what has already been. Some of the good memories are starting to come back slowly, like streaks of sun shining through the clouds after a thunderstorm. I suspect that the memories will always be tinged with a lot of sadness and a lot of bittersweet but I’ll take those over the anger and the guilt and the grief any day of the week. Not that those feelings have disappeared, mind you, but at least they are not as all-consuming as they once were. Or maybe I’m just getting better at integrating those things into my life – maybe I’ve just learned to co-exist with that part of myself. Because the truth is that my life was rent into two phases by your death and I can never be the same person that I once was. Your death changed me in a very fundamental way. It’s been a hard process, trying to figure out who I am and where I fit in a world without you. I’m not there yet- but I think I’m getting it figured out. I’m starting to accept the aching pain that has taken the place of the stabbing grief, and I’m starting to live beyond it. It’s a lie when they say that time heals all wounds; not all wounds are meant to be healed. The other adage, however, is true: time marches on. And so must I.
That’s where things stand after two years. Things are still a work in progress. I am still a work in progress. I still miss you, and you still cross my mind every single day. Your absence still hurts, though I am no longer inclined to make the pain stop. I’m changing, I’m growing, I’m both more and less than I once was. We all are, those who loved you.