I didn’t think I’d make it a year. But here I am, heartbroken, gutted, but alive.
The details of your face have not dulled in my mind. I am still an expert in every crease and mole and curve. The tenor of your voice and the tinkle of your laugh still ring clear as bells in my memory. I cringe at the thought that one day they might be harder to recall because I have relied so heavily on them the last 365.
I remember sitting by your bedside and holding your hand and muttering prayers to every deity I’ve ever heard of. I still have not made my peace with my God for taking you from me. I’m trying.
I remember being 14 and learning how to peel and devein shrimp and how to perfectly crack a crab leg at the beach. To this day my fingers move deftly across shellfish when I cook, the muscle memory of being young and under your tutelage still with me.
I remember staring at the black and gold urn that held the physical remains of your life and thinking how much you’d like it, and hoping you knew there is no one else in this world or the next I would second line to that damn Saints’ song for.
I remember long weekends at your house, standing in your kitchen, accidentally napping in that comfortable, ugly chair. I remember the way your face looked the year I came home from college and you realized I was old enough to join you in a glass of wine.
I remember running into the hospital room where you laid, stolen from me, a wail mangled in my throat and someone catching me before my trembling legs gave out under me and I hit the floor.
I remember the smile you had for me when I graduated and the way you’d go out of your way to hold me close and tell me, “I’m so proud of you, my baby.”
I remember everything.
We’re okay. We’re not good. But we’re okay. And we’re trying. And we’ll be better. Though I can’t imagine a day when the ache of losing you doesn’t take my breath away.
I’m sitting in an airport bar, pausing for a second before winging off to my next adventure and I want to tell you I’m okay. That I’m making it. That I am building my happy. That I’m doing good things and being a good human, and that I promise to keep trying. That every day since this day last year I have thought about laying down and quitting, but I get up because I know that you’d want me to. I will be a champion for you.
I have a glass of shiraz and I say a prayer of gratitude to a God I am still angry with that he gave me you in the first place. The sweetness of the wine helps wash away the bitter.
I made it a year, my Dede. I am here.