Oh, I miss you. I miss you with ever fiber, every breath. You know this, of course. You are the one who is there when, even now two years on, I wake up looking for you in the dark. Sometimes I still hear the cadence of your breath. I remember.
I love you. I still hold you inside of me, carry your heart, remember your touch. You know this, too. You are the one who taught me to believe that maybe there is such a thing as unconditional love, you are the one who told me once that you couldn't wait to see my face when I realized that could be true. You did. I remember.
And I am okay. It is an ongoing shock to me that here and now, without you in my life as a physical constant, I am upright. I laugh and smile and yes still cry. I love and am loved. You know this as well as you know my love and my sorrow. There is no okay without you and yet I find, there is. It is a different kind of okay. You are the one who asked me to promise that I would be okay. I did, but I was lying even as I pretended I was not. It turns out you were right about this one, too. I remember.
If memory is truly immortality then you will live forever. I take some comfort in that most days, though some days it tastes like nothing but ash. I remember you as do your kids, family, friends. You touched so many people. You would walk into a room and the light would coalesce around you. Now you are the light.
The easiest way for me to think of my current life is that I'm living in a science fiction story, or maybe an episode of The Twilight Zone, one of those written by Rod Serling, of course. Those were the best, the twistiest, the most human. I have slipped into a parallel universe or maybe the theoreticians were right and every moment the universe breaks into a multitude of possibilities. I stumbled into a different universe than the one I wanted to be in. I can't even say this parallel universe is worse than the one where you never got cancer. It is a greyer place much of the time, and a sadder one, but the world is still here. It is perhaps more tender than the one I lived in before. There is still beauty. There is love. The world may taste of salt now, the faint crust on my cheek and under my eye, but the world still has taste.
None of that is to say I don't miss you, don't hate what happened, don't long for you to be back. And yet... here I am.
I am so different now, though on the surface I may look mostly the same. I know my hair is much greyer. I don't laugh as quickly nor for as long. I am more forgiving more easily. My quiet side, always present though often unbelieved, is a bigger part of me. I need a great deal of time alone. I am softer. I am not discontented. Many days I am even happy, but I always feel the lack of you.
Now, here, two years out, I still miss you ferociously. I cried in my new love's arms last night and I'm sure I will do so again. He is a good man, I think you would like him. I hope you do. His presence in my life doesn't change the fact that I miss you and want you back. Sometimes that's a hard contradiction to hold, but it's there. I miss you in every breath, every time I laugh, every time I experience something that we would have shared with a sideways glance. I miss your shining face.
Now, here, two years out, I love you passionately. That will never go away, nor should it. The love we built, the way I love you, the way you love(d) me informs everything in my life. It shapes how I love now.
Now, here, two years out I find myself okay. And most days I think of you predominantly with enormous love and unmeasurable gratitude. Yes, I am different. Yes, I will never get over your death nor would I want to. Yes, this alternate universe is not where I would have chosen to be. But you taught me so much. Even in death. Even in those last moments, two years ago right now.
I remember the light streaming into the hospital room the moment after your heart stopped beating. You were in the light then. You are now. You always will be.
I love you, Kevin. More than anything else, more than the pain in this moment, more than missing you, the love remains. Thank you.
(c)2016 Laura S. Packer