It’s been a year since you were taken from us. Such a long time, and such a short time. Time enough to diminish somewhat the immediate soul-searching I did wondering if I could have helped you, if I could have saved you, if I should have done something different. Not nearly enough time to touch the searing anger and hatred I feel toward the pathetic, cowardly excuse for a human being who took you and your son from us. Not enough time to dim the horrific images that flash through my mind every time I pass your house, every time I see your surviving children, every time I see a reference to you.
Almost one year ago, my facebook feed slowly morphed into an indecipherable sea as all of our shared friends, so many of them, changed our profile pictures to the same picture memorializing you. Don’t worry about it. It means you were loved, loved so much and therefore missed so much. Every so often it happens again: on holidays, on the day your ashes were finally laid to rest, on the Day of the Dead, on your birthday, on the anniversary of your murder. As time goes by, the sea of images becomes a little easier to decipher, as some of us become a little more creative and find new images. It’s not any easier to see, though. Not yet.
I don’t remember the date of everybody’s death. I don’t remember those dates for my grandparents, for my aunts and uncles. They all died late in life, sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes after long illness but always after a long, full life, after seeing their children grown and their grandchildren born. Their passing was just another natural step. The circumstances of your death, dear friend, have seared the day I found out into my memory. I wonder how many years will have to pass for that to begin to fade.
Our circle of friends is assuaging some of the guilt we all feel by trying to help others in your shoes. We are gathering supplies and donations for a local shelter, aching to provide anything these women ask for as they save their own lives, just as we ached to provide everything you needed when you asked. We remember the joy in you when you thought you had escaped, when you finally had control of the reins on your life. We don’t want to see it snuffed out again in somebody else.
I remember you every day. I do what I can to help your mother as she struggles to raise your children while shouldering her own burden of grief and loss. I remember the lessons you taught, intentionally or not, the lessons of endurance, making do, perseverance, and finding laughter in spite of everything. We ate the acorn bread made from the recipe you loved on your birthday. When the anime convention comes back to town, I remember the night I took you out on the town and we watched all the cosplayers pass by the bar windows while we talked. When I make queso, I remember sharing it with you at night when you needed a friend. When it’s time to come up with new classes at Foster, I think of the classes you taught and the stunts you pulled, and I wonder how I can ever compete with your legacy.
Today, I am grateful for the breath of life, and for all my friends who continue to breathe it with me.
I am grateful for my wonderful husband, who is always kind and loving and gentle.
I am grateful for all my little (and not so little) ones, and all the days I have to hold them close.
I am grateful for the inspiration to do more with less, to be more in the face of any trial.
I am grateful for your help in our fundraising efforts for A’Kos and Kender.
I am grateful for the mark you left on my life, dear friend.