The Long and Short Years of Grief

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An hour glass half full in blue lighting

10 Years gone, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be ten years since you were taken so quickly and unfairly.

I remember our last conversation so vividly, my dad was in the hospital with pneumonia, your girl’s teacher sent home a note saying they could bring gum to school for their upcoming state testing. You had never heard that gum can help kids concentrate, you wanted to know if my niece and nephew had gotten a similar note. It was such a simple and short conversation, I was rushing to get off the phone, I was taking my niece and nephew to Target then Panera Bread, and I was focusing on getting them out the door and not really wanting to talk. You didn’t seem phased or annoyed, you understood I was stressed, I promised to call you the following week.

I never called, I’m sorry for that.

Two weeks later I heard from someone you were sick – so I called your wife to ask what was going on and what I could do to help, she said you had just passed. I felt like I had been punched in the gut and been run over by a truck all at the same time. The wind was knocked out of me, but in that moment it wasn’t about me, or you anymore, it was about your girls. It was about doing whatever I could to help and make their lives better – even if it was just for a moment.

The days leading up to your wake and funeral felt like an eternity, the day was dragging on in ways I’d never experienced. I remember calling the rest of our team, words I never expected to say came out of my mouth, I gave the arrangement details and we all agreed after the wake we would get drinks at our favorite Mexican place. What else was there to do? You were gone, and we were left here to make sense of it, process it.

We all met up as promised and shared stories, we were laughing so hard we were crying, you’d think we were celebrating your victory and in a way we were, you had brought a team of people together and we all had a unique story. A team of misfits as my mom liked to joke. As we finished our drinks, got our coats on, and headed outside into the snowy streets, we all hugged and said our goodbyes.

Some things stayed the same, and some changed in unexpected ways. We’ve had other losses, another staffer passed away, marriages happened, kids were born, and illnesses occurred. We’ve loved and we’ve lost.

Grief is a funny thing, it comes in waves. There are days I don’t think of you, I don’t say that to be mean or malicious it’s the truth. Then there are other times, I’ll think of a conversation we had while driving to an event. You never got to see the ending of Brothers and Sisters, it was pretty lackluster, to be honest. You missed some crazy political elections, both locally and nationally, you missed your own family’s exciting events.

So much has changed, I took your advice and found my soulmate, I stayed local, and I’ve grown. I’ve changed for the better having known and learned from you. It’s been ten years, ten long and ten short years…

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