We stopped by your tombstone this evening. Thirteen years now, we've been gathering on the worn grass above your buried body. You lived with us for thirteen years, and now you've been absent from us for thirteen years. Next year you will reach the age where you will have been dead longer than you were alive.
Sorry for the melancholy letter; I am sad - I miss you, your big smile, your silly antics, your loud jokes, your ambling walk, your butch-wax lathered hair, your amiable attitude, your budding faith. August 23 is always a different day; I want to remember your life, but that means also remembering you are dead.
The gatherings get more fun as the years go by, your neices and nephews add a lot of noise and silliness to the event. Though they never knew you, we tell them stories, show them pictures; we constantly tell Emma that she has inherited your booming voice! Tonight Emma, Levi and Isaac were playing on your tombstone, happily oblivious to the pain of death.
As I watched them frolic, holding Eli close to my chest, I felt a deep strain in my soul. There was this angry surge, this stubborn resistance to reality, to the fact of your absence. Though it lasted only for a few seconds, it was a powerful moment; I don't want you dead, I want you here. It's one of the few things I want more than anything, and it is completely impossible to resolve.
You know all of this; I suppose having been dead for thirteen years, you've had plenty of time to reflect on what you are missing out on as well. Your 27th birthday is coming up...hard to imagine you all grown up, responsible, with a family. I like to imagine it though, it makes me smile.
We think of you often, we miss you always, and we seek to honor your life by laughing, by singing silly ditties; by enduring hardships with quiet resolve, by relying on God's providence when what we want is unattainable.
Here are some pics of the day together. We got together at my house first for pizza, fruit, cupcakes and icecream. We also gave Eli his first haircut, Tara reluctantly cut off the long hair hanging over his collar. No more mullet!
Just before leaving, Emma, in her boistrous enthusiasm, grabbed Eva in a bear hug and started waddling down the hallway. She lost her balance and Eva's forehead fell into some metal part of Grandpa's old desk he made for us when we were wee little tykes. It left a nasty gash; after the bleeding stopped Eva began to get sick. Jerm and Maria had to take her to the ER where she got stitches. Emma felt so bad about it, but we're glad Eva will be alright. The rest of us set off to Huntington to visit your tombstone and tell stories. What good stories you lived...