You were supposed to get married this Saturday. I was texting Elias, and he reminded me that this Saturday was the big day. Or it was supposed to be.
When you first told me you were finally engaged, I remember sitting back and day-dreaming about what this day would look like. I know you had different plans for the actual event, but this is the way I remember imagining it:
Your yard would be immaculate, full of flowers and trees, benches you made with your own hands adorning the edges of the yard. It would have been the perfect sunny day, cool and warm all at once, with shade for your guests. The rows of chairs would be filled with your loved ones: your sons, your stepdaughters, your mom, your coworkers, your best friends. I would have been sitting there on the front row in a suit with a flower on my lapel, and brimming with pride and joy for you. I’m sure I would have been crying, much like I’m crying now.
I envisioned strings, playing beautiful music and welcoming you and Elias as you walked down the aisle hand in hand, both incredible fit and trim and sharp in your suits, all your hard work at the gym having paid off. I know how you would have looked at each other, in the eyes, hand in hand, as you recited your vows, and pledged love to each other for the rest of your lives. I remember how you looked at each other.
It’s hard having you gone, my friend. Your presence just loomed so largely in my life, and so consistently, that I don’t know if I would have been able to predict it would be like without you.
Elias and I text sometimes. We remember you. We think about what you would have wanted for us, in our own ways, after you were gone. We’ve met up a few times to talk and share, but most of the conversation comes back to how we miss you. He’s healing. He’s hurting a lot, but healing. Staying busy with work and friends, planning his future as best he can. And I think all of us who miss you are much the same, in lesser degrees.
I just sit back sometimes and think about how abrupt it was that you left us. You had unfinished wood working projects, new accounts coming in at work, yard work and wedding plans and a bachelor party and a honeymoon all coming up. All the hikes you went on, all the ground you walked upon. And all those miles we traveled together, all of our road trips and long conversations. You know that section on Facebook, where it shows you all of your memories on the same calendar date over the past several years? You come up on my feed nearly every day. So many memories, Kurt! Moab and Denver and Mexico and Vegas and San Diego. Coffee catch-ups and house parties and nightclubs and lunches and hikes. It’s almost ridiculous to realize that you were not only my best friend, you were my primary support system. If someone asked me to list a next of kin or an emergency contact, I would have given your name, and you would have shown up when they called.
I miss you, my friend, but that’s easy to tell. I’m doing well enough, staying social and busy and engaged. I’ve traveled a bit lately, to Seattle and to Island Park; you and I would have texted constantly during both of those trips, and I found myself wanting to tell you things and you would have made me laugh.
Despite all that, I’ve been a little more withdrawn lately. I find myself expecting less of people, staying quiet for longer periods of time. I’ve spent more time solo, and more time quiet when I’m around others. And that’s okay, at least for now. I think it’s a pretty healthy way to process grief overall. But I know you, too. If you were here, you’d show up and you’d be worried about me.
I keep getting little snapshots of you throughout my days. The birthday party you threw me, where you made everyone there go around in a circle and tell their favorite stories about me. The going away party you had for me when I moved to Seattle and how you always gave me a place to stay when I came back to visit. How you always, always answered me and showed up anytime I needed you, like the time you helped me assemble bunk beds for my kids and the time you picked me up when my car broke down. These memories and a thousand thousand more.
God damn it, I miss you, my friend.
This Saturday, I’ll with my sons, but I know it’s going to be a tough one. It was supposed to be your day. Elias is going to ascend a mountain in your honor that day. I’m not sure how I’ll honor you yet, but I want you to know that you’ll be on my mind. I’m working on a book right now. (You were always telling me to write a book). When I finish it, if I finish it, you will very likely be the one I dedicate it to.
I’ve told you this a lot of times already, but I just want you to know that you changed my life. I still hear your voice of reason, your laugh, your sage advice.
I help people grieve for a living, so I know it’s a process. I’m getting there. The people who mean the most take the longest to get over. And you’re gonna take a long time.
I love you, my friend. And I miss you.