Billy, it’s been nearly 15 years since you died. It’s hard to believe. It doesn’t seem right. The world keeps on spinning. I don’t know what I expected.
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve done, the people I’ve met, the mistakes I’ve made, and the joy I’ve felt.
I fell in love soon after you died. I met a girl. She had suffered her own loss and knew how to help me with mine, with you. She knew how to listen and she still does. It wasn’t long after that I knew I wanted to be with her, and it turns out she wanted to be with me too. We’re still together 14 years later.
At the beginning of our relationship, I would tell her about you and how I wished the two of you could have known each other. I imagined you coming over for dinner or all of us going to the movies or hiking in Colorado. This continues with every major life event — me imagining what it would have been like if you were here. Our son, Conan, was born 3 years ago. Our daughters Isabel and Deirdre are 13 and 11 now. All three are absolutely amazing.
Something odd happens in quiet moments and often catches me off guard. When I’m watching my kids I see you in them. How odd is that? They’ve never met you.
It reminds me of the dreams I had after you were gone. In the dreams, I’d be doing some normal, mundane thing and you would show up. I didn’t get it, and it made me mad that you were there because you weren’t supposed to be. You left, you were gone. Why did you think you could show up in the middle of what I was doing? I was mad, of course, because I knew you hadn’t come back and I knew it wouldn’t last.
Another strange thing happens when these visions occur. In those moments when I get goosebumps or get an idea or feel rapture I feel you with me. While looking at the mountains, during meditation, when making love, or witnessing the birth of my children. These are moments when I know you’re there.
No, I don’t mean that you hang around like a disembodied ghost or angel or that I am possessed by your spirit. You see, when I met you I began to take on pieces of your personality. The more time we spent together the more of your consciousness became part of my own. I see this during every interaction I have with someone that knew you. Those of us who spent time with you are better for it and we carry that piece of you with us. Now I understand why I see you in my children.
Nothing ever ends, it only changes and change is the only constant. From a myopic view, I will soon enough become like you. My ideas, my personality, my strengths, and my flaws are already multiplying and taking new life in other people. When I am dead my body will become something brilliant and new and that time draws near sooner than we think.
Do I miss your face? The presence of the concentrated you? Yes, and I always will. But I think my brain likes to play tricks on me and make-believe that things can stay the same. My entire body is made up of completely new cells and particles since you were here; they’re only continuing the pattern that is me. Though the material pattern that was you has dissipated, the pattern of consciousness that is you is very alive.
In those moments when I recognize you in my kids, it reminds me that I’m not alone and never will be. This is impossible. I guess this is why it’s important to be around people that love us and are better than us. If we’re lucky to have them we will become more like them.
I once said that your life was too short, but there isn’t anything I can do about that so I don’t say it anymore. Lamenting only lessens the impact you had on me and those around you.
So instead of feeling sad about the times we didn’t have, I’ll do my best to live my life to the fullest and wring out each drop. I selfishly do this for me, but I also do it for the part of you that lives within me.