Anniversaries

This week marks the 1-2 punch of Anniversaries. October 10th, of course, marks the first anniversary of Laura’s passing and October 11th would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary.  There’s no way around not remembering these two days and the pain that we felt a year ago at this time. It’s been a year of “firsts” and they’ve each been a challenge: First holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, driver’s licenses, Spring and Summer, trips and vacations without her and so, so much more.

As painful as these days were and are, I am grateful for the memories and love we shared with Laura.  I’m grateful for the lives she inspired and of course the two amazing souls she created in her sons, Sam and Luke.  I’m grateful for our moments together, the love we shared and the life we built.

Time doesn’t necessarily heal wounds, but the passing of time does allow for compression and reflection.  I saw a group of colleagues recently who I spent time with just prior to Laura’s death last year, and there was a lot of love and support shared from them.  One of my colleagues and close friend remarked that he was proud of me for my strength over the past year.  I can tell you that any strength I have comes from the support of family and friends who I leaned on and learned so much from over the past year.  I so appreciate all the gestures, outreach, love and support that so many have extended to me and the boys.

One of the recurring thoughts I’ve had over the summer stems from a concert I attended in July; it was Dierks Bentley’s performance here in Virginia, and my sister, through her good friend, arranged for me and my crew that night to attend a private acoustic concert and then meet Dierks backstage before the main show.  Not only was it a great night of music, but I gotta say what an enjoyable and cool guy Dierks is… we actually had a brief conversation backstage when I met him for my photo opp.  We talked about our matching Lucchese boots, our SAE fraternity brotherhood and one of his songs, “Here on Earth”.  I listened to that song over and over and over on Christmas day last year, and if you’ve not heard it, give it a listen.  If you’ve gone through a loss of a loved one, you’ll understand what I mean when you listen to it.  Anyway, Dierks told me about when he wrote that song and how he felt when he wrote it.  I don’t think Dierks is going to weave our conversation into a song anytime soon, but it was memorable [for me] to connect through his art about those meanings.  The rest of the night was amazing – a beautiful summer night with great friends enjoying a great concert.  I took some inspiration away from that meeting and that night.  Dierks, being from Arizona, uses the Phoenix as one of his marketing brand images.  And being an SAE brother, there’s something unique about the Phoenix, and the story of rising from the ashes.  That image stuck with me, then and now, and that story resonates with me about rising from the ashes.

A year ago, the life around us burned down with the loss of Laura.  I was, and we were, at a loss of how to function: me, our sons, our family, our friends – we were all at a loss of how to function.  We were covered in the ashes of our grief.  We were choked by the heaviness in the air from the loss of our light and love, Laura.  As we inched our way forward, day by day and task by task at first, I can see that we began to rise together.  There were moments that I thought I was flying again, but I look back and see that I was falling, sometimes in a tailspin.  And I  thank those people around me for helping me pull the nose back up.

It was hard to make any sense of Laura’s passing, and it still bewilders me that it happened.  It’s hard to make sense about it and understand how to move forward; how to be a single parent; how to maintain work-life balance; how to engage with others; how to find beauty again after the darkest of hours.  But there is so much beauty in the world.  This summer I witnessed sunsets and sunrises and rain storms and lightning and full moons and shooting stars and fireflies and butterflies and mountains and oceans. And above all, the beauty of relationships.  Of the joy of being a parent
and a brother and a son and a friend.  And all these things remind of how beautiful life is.

Writing has helped me rise again from my depths and so, too, has riding through the sport of polo.  I thank you for allowing me to share through my writing; it’s therapeutic to write and another sort of therapy to put it out in the world and see what comes back.  And I thank so many of you for sharing in return with me.

The riding is something that has allowed me to channel so much energy and has given me so much in return.  The horses are amazing, beautiful and smart animals.  When in unison, the partnership between man and steed is magical.  Although it’s a horsepower of “one hp”, that power under the saddle is spectacular. To feel the pattern of trot and canter gaits as I sync with the horse, to open up one of these Argentine or Thoroughbred polo ponies on a long run on the grass, to feel the horse’s reaction, motion and muscles change as we execute a tight turn in an arena game, to strike ball with mallet squarely at a run, or to win a ride-off as my mount competes just as strongly to win that position against the other horse…. these are part of the adrenaline rushes that come with every moment of every match in the saddle.  Beyond the game, I am also appreciative of our polo community here in Northern Virginia, who have taken me in and offered support for my game and my life and I am very grateful for these experiences and relationships. And one friendship, in particular, that has allowed me to find that balance between grief and happiness, past and present.

I’ve seen the rise of the Phoenix through my sons, too. I struggle to comprehend how difficult this year has been for them, and how much the loss of their mother affects them. But I see their strength. I see it when I watched Sam lead his lacrosse team to a strong season, when I talk to him about his academic goals or about the experiences he had this summer in the Rockies. I feel it when I watch a football game with Luke, or watch him playing on the field at one of his games or listen to his wild and endless
sense of humor. I am seeing them grasp life and mature so quickly in front of my eyes, and I’m amazed and proud of the decisions they make. It’s a beautiful thing to watch your children chart their flight path in life. So much has been thrust upon them in this year, and they’ve handled it so well. Laura would be so proud.

To the topic of anniversaries… Laura actually gave me the choice of our wedding date between one or two other autumn dates, and I chose October 11 because I knew that 10/11 would always be easy to remember.  While 10/10 and 10/11 will forever be etched in mind, the idea of an “anniversary” feels too celebratory for the occasions, but I certainly do feel more to celebrate in the memory of Laura this year.  A year ago, the memorial service, often referred to a “celebration of life” was too tender, too excruciating to truly offer a celebration.  The juxtaposition of time and proximity from those dates a year ago help me to reflect more joyfully today, and I do feel the celebration of her life.  And there’s much to celebrate about Laura: her kindness, her support, her warmth, her inspiration, her smiles, her compassion, her love, her joy and her happiness.

I hope you’ll celebrate these days with me in the memory of Laura.

“There’s a song in the heart of a woman.  Set it free, Oh set it free…
…There’s a light in the depths of your darkness.  Let it Shine, Oh Let it Shine.”
-D. Fogelberg

Let it Shine!

Happy Birthday, Laura.

Happy Birthday, Laura.  Today we celebrate what would have been your 50th birthday.  It’s so hard to imagine that you’re not here.  Not with us.  So hard to comprehend how fragile life is.  So hard to accept that you are gone so soon from our lives.  We wrestle everyday with feelings about love and loss, memories of you, questions about why and memories of life with you.

I remember the year the we both turned 40.  We split the difference from my spring and your summer birthdays and had a party at our house in June to celebrate both our birthdays.  What a night that was.  Family and friends joined us for a beautiful night at our Landy Bank Court home.  That was a house you loved so much.  And it was a great home.  We had so many firsts with the boys in that house.  Sam had turned a year old and just started walking when we moved in, and that was the home that Luke knew for his first six years. We hosted kids’ birthday parties, great Thanksgivings and Christmases and special nights there.  We watched it snow over the holidays in 2008 for days and days.  We couldn’t even see our mailbox out front or the patio furniture out back. All blanketed in a world of white.  And it took 28 days for the city to finally send a plow up to us to clear out the toboggan run of a road we’d created with our neighbors.  I remember how the boys used to play in our front foyer, and when they heard our two canine labs, Indy and Leo, racing down the hallway coming toward them, the boys would “assume the position” against the walls so that they wouldn’t get knocked over by the dogs, often wearing nothing more than their diapers and giggles. We hosted a family weekend in March 2005 in that house that celebrated two Christenings, a first birthday, a 65th birthday and a family wedding.  So many fond memories. So much love.

a spring snow in Reno 2009

My balance gets uneven when I think about all the other firsts in our lives that you’ll miss.  You’ve missed awards for the boys this year and seeing them getting their first car.  You’ll miss graduations and first jobs.  You’ve missed seeing us raise the puppy that you picked out.  And it’s too hard to think about the other experiences with their lives that you’re going to miss, and we’ll miss having you be part of. 

You were a remarkable light in this world.  There’s not a person who I’ve spoken with or heard from about you who hasn’t mentioned your smile, or your warmth, or the depth of your caring.  You were such a genuinely kindhearted person, and you made others feel so welcomed in your life.  While you’re not with us today, there is so much that you’ve left behind for us to absorb, especially the boys and me.  You taught us about unconditional love and so much more.

It’s so unfair that you are gone, but you’ll never be forgotten.  As a mother, you gave the boys such a solid foundation in life.  They are amazing human beings and they are a living legacy to your grace and loving spirit.  As a wife, you supported me and cared for me through our happy times, our stressful times and our challenging times.  I know I wasn’t always the best version of myself with you, but you accepted me for who I was, faults and all.  You loved me none the less with all of my holes.  While I’ve experienced other losses in my life, nothing really prepared me for the experience of losing our guiding light. Even when I was wandering in the dark, I always knew that your light shone the brightest for us and was there to guide me.  I’ve tried to learn from these experiences over the past several months, and though I’ve stumbled and lost balance, I continue finding my way forward for myself and our sons.  I know the boys have had moments of reflection and remembrance of you that have grabbed ahold of them strongly this summer, but they are remarkable in their paths and are continuing to grow as amazing young men.

As a daughter, you brought joy and meaning to your parents’ lives, and they loved you endlessly.  I understand why, now, you had such trouble moving forward after your father’s death.  As a sister and a friend, I watched you build and extend relationships in which you put others first.  I watched the friendship with you and my sister develop and grow over the years, to the point that I knew I was outmatched, outclassed and outvoted every time three of us were together, but I was okay with that because being with the two of you were among the happiest memories that I share.   As a colleague and manager, your co-workers, employees and friends have reached out to me with the warmest stories about the incredible impact you made in their lives.  We should all be so lucky to have worked with and be friends with someone as supportive as you.

We still feel your presence in so many ways, and I know that you look out for us now from a different place, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for our loss.  We miss you and wish you were here.  This summer, we’ll spend time in the mountains and we’ll return to Kauai, the place where you and I honeymooned.  That was our plan for this year to celebrate our 50th birthdays: to travel together and introduce the boys to that magical island, and I’ll be doing it with those memories of you. 

I had the opportunity to spend almost half of your life with you, and I honestly expected that we’d have another 40 years together.  I’m learning to be at peace without you, but even when I’m in the embrace of friends and others, it’s a difficult balance at times to find that peace in the space between where happiness and grief co-exist. 

 I have had so many conversations about you with other people; some who knew you and some who don’t.  Your friends, our friends, here in Virginia and elsewhere miss you.  Those friends and our family have helped me make it through this past year.  Whether they knew it or not, they’ve helped me battle depression and cope with grief.  They’ve listened endlessly, and read my writings, too, to be able to understand and offer me support, condolence and guidance.  It’s good to talk about you and it’s good to share. I’ve learned that people not only want to know that we’re doing OK, but want us to remember. And we do remember you, as you’ll always be part of who we are as move forward in our lives.

On this day, on your birthday, my wish for you is that you experience our love for you.

In the sky above, or the ground below….wherever you may be.
Whether your sky is blue or a blanket made of stars.
If you see us here, or your view is a mountainscape of vibrant wild flowers. 
Whether you hear us, or listen to the wind quake the Aspens.
When you walk on the beach with white sand in your toes, or dance among the clouds.
If you feel the sun on your shoulders, or the change in your weather.
As you feel the weight in our hearts and our joys in your memories,
Our love for you is all around.

Happy Birthday, Laura

Happy Birthday, L.
Love, Chris, Sam & Luke

Kids: My Father’s Day Blessing

When I count the blessings in my life, I start with the two who live under my roof: my sons, Sam and Luke.  Born 15 months and 1 day apart, they’ve always had someone to play with and someone to fight with.  Not Irish twins by definition, but close enough. One from the Old testament and one from the New. Not that was the basis for their names.  In fact, when we first met, I had told Laura about a horse I’d had named Sam. I thought it would be a good dog’s name down the road.  Laura informed me that her first-born son was going to be named Sam.  Flash forward a few years later, we had two dogs named Indy & Leo, and a new born son named Samuel Cahal.  When Luke arrived on the scene, there was still much consideration about what his name would be. Unlike Sam, we had seen the results of the ultrasound with Luke and knew we having a boy.  Like Sam, we had chosen a strong, traditional first name and a middle name that came from a great-grandfather, this time from Laura’s family.  That March, as the days grew closer to his birth, Laura started to express reservations about the name we’d chosen.  Part of it was due to the loss of her father, just five months before in October. There was a strong sense from both of us to remember Laura’s father, Marty, with our new son.  And so, Luke became Lucas Martin.  I don’t think either of us connected that “Luke and Laura” would be spending so much time together and evoking memories of some soap opera that I’ve come to learn about.  Apparently, that soap opera had been a fixture in the Theta house at CU, and Laura and her sisters knew all about Luke & Laura.  I’ve always thought him more of a Cool Hand Luke!

To say that we were challenged in those first few years with two toddlers, two in diapers would be a fair statement. But there was so much joy in our young family.  We both worked, but our priorities were the boys, and we were happy with our schedules and our lives.  We were very much in love with each other and with our sons. 

Living in Reno gave us an opportunity to experience so many great activities with the boys.  I started both of them skiing when they were three years old, and by the time they started elementary school, we were able to have family ski days.  Laura’s mother was close enough for lots of weekend visits, and we’d make our annual trek in the summer to spend time in Colorado with my family.  Those times in Crested Butte with the boys bring such strong memories of them and us enjoying their childhood: hiking with them in backpacks at early ages, pulling them in the red wagon or them riding tricycles on Elk Avenue, seeing them graduate to their first mountain bikes, rafting on the Gunnison and Taylor rivers, rock climbing in the park, pony rides on our friends’ farm, scouting the bears in town and so many laughs in our own yard.

The boys experienced their first real taste of change when they were in second and first grade, respectively.  I had accepted a new position within the company, three time zones away, and we were starting to plan our move to Virginia.  School had just started and it was Labor Day weekend.  We spent the weekend with Laura’s mother and decided that Sunday morning was the time to tell the boys about our move.  The night before we watched The Night at the Smithsonian Museum to try to create a buzz about D.C.  The next morning, we had laptops ready with pages for the Redskins, Nationals, the White House and Smithsonian and every other site we could think of in DC. After breakfast, we broke the news to the boys, and it didn’t go well.  Sam was strongly upset. At seven years old, this was a big, bad deal. “This is the worst idea ever!” he exclaimed, and then stormed off in tears.  Luke, a year younger and not sure what to make of this news, took his queues from his brother, and similarly stormed off in joint protest.  Solidarity. We gave them some time to decompress from this news – probably what seemed like a long time to them to deal with the gravity of this situation, and probably what equated to another cup of coffee for us.  In time, they came back into the breakfast room, sobbing and tearfully starting to ask a few questions.  I had one ace up my sleeve and decided to play it then.  Earlier that summer at summer camp, the boys had been introduced to foosball and it was a big hit.  When I showed them pictures of some of the homes in Virginia – with finished basements — I explained that we’d find a new home like one of these with room in the basement for a…… and before I could finish my sentence, Sam jumped in with, “….a foosball table?”  And just like that, the whole family was on board for our move to Virginia. 

Final stages of the move from Reno

A couple of months later, we had closed on our new house in Ashburn, and the same day I had picked up a foosball table.  My flight back to Reno departed the next morning so that I could fly back and help with the last stages of packing and moving, and then we’d fly back to D.C. together the next weekend.  That night, before leaving the East Coast, I put together that foosball table in the basement.  It was the one thing in the house when we arrived that weekend and showed the boys our new home.  We still have that foosball table, now in the basement of our second home in Virginia.  It doesn’t get much use anymore.  The boys pass by it regularly in the basement as they go to settle into their respective Xbox lairs.  Occasionally, I’ll hear the yelling and slamming of players on the table when the boys have friends over and they’ll play a game, but mostly it gets used a bench top or storage for other items.  But what a purpose it served in our move to Virginia.

In the weeks and months following Laura’s death, I thought a lot about relocating to Kansas City to be closer to my family.  With no family in the D.C. area, I was very concerned about how we would function as a household with my career, the boys in two different high schools and our two dogs, the second of which we were still training as a puppy.  There were so many overwhelming thoughts and concerns.  I recall that when the boys went back to school later that month in October, I had to buy the right groceries to make sure they could pack their lunches for school – as teen boys, they typically take one lunch to school and buy another!  Just a couple of weeks earlier, I remembered Luke telling Laura one night that he was happy because she’d bought the “good bread” for lunches.  I didn’t even know what the “good bread” was or where to buy it.  Some how, some way during those winter months, we started to chart a course for our new norm and work through it.  I planned meals, and still do, on an Excel spreadsheet.  Perhaps one of my bigger regrets is how many dinners I missed over the past several years because I was working late at the office, working on a deal and letting the evening rush hour eclipse.  When I started back at work in January, the reality of needing not only to be home for dinner, but be there to make dinner every night was a challenge.  But we adjusted. We tried new things. Some worked and some didn’t.  We tried a house helper, sort of our version of Mrs. Doubtfire, but she was too much. Too much food, too much mothering, too much outside intrusion when we were still trying to figure out so much on our own.  Friends and neighbors were incredibly supportive, and still are. Food came from so many people, and still does occasionally.  We learned how to grocery shop together and spent Sundays practicing Sam’s driving and our weekly shopping. 

After the Christmas and New Year’s holidays had passed, I put it on the table with the boys about moving to Kansas City.  I explained all the reasons why I thought it would be a good idea for us to be there.  To be close to family who could help us, and we could be there for them. It wasn’t my decision to make alone, though, and I asked that we give it some time to think about it.  After a couple more trips to KC during the Spring, I put it back on the table.  “Dad,” they said, “you can move wherever you want in three years. We want to stay in Virginia.”  I think part of me really wanted to be back in KC to be comforted and surrounded not only by our family, but also by my friends, the people I’d been young with once. The people that I’d shared so many of life’s new experiences with.  I wanted the boys to have that sense of family and community that I had growing up.  But I realized that my sons weren’t the young boys they were when I was able to incent them with a foosball table.  They were young men now, and they were telling me that they had what I wanted for them; it was different, but they had their sense of community with their friends from school and our friends in Virginia.  And though it is different, and though our family is smaller, we had each other and we would get through this together. 

Since October, my sons have had to endure so much.  They’ve been forced to experience and grow so much at a young age. Coping with the loss of their mother, coping with their own grief, coping with my grief, coping with the whims, mistakes, expectations, trials, errors and some downright bad judgments from their single-parent father. Enduring the holidays, birthdays and Mother’s day. Next month, we’ll remember Laura on what would be her 50th birthday, and aside from the anniversary of October 10, we’ll put many of this year of firsts behind us.  We’ll remember Laura on that day as we do every day, but we might just have an emptiness in our hearts that day that weighs heavier than other days. 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Sam’s high school lacrosse team banquet.  As a sophomore, Sam earned a starting spot on the JV team and played a high percentage of important minutes every game of what was a very good season for the team.  We also got to see the varsity team move on to the VA State semi-finals, a best achievement for Champe High School.  Sam will tell you he’s not the fastest or strongest on the team, but his coach will tell you he has one of the best lax IQs on the field and demonstrations of great teamwork off the field. I was moved to see those coaches recognize Sam at the banquet last week with a team award of significance.  A couple of years ago, a boy on the team, Ryan Kwak, was injured during the off season in a car accident and paralyzed.  The team rallied behind him in his recovery, and he rallied behind the team to be on the sidelines in his wheelchair during Sam’s freshman year.  At the end of that season, the coaches created an award to recognize Ryan’s spirit and presented it to one team member.  At the conclusion of this season, Sam was recognized across all four grades and both JV and varsity teams as a recipient of the Ryan Strong award.  It was a moving and emotional moment for Sam, me and his coaches.  Sam was recognized for his demonstration of character, grit and dealing with adversity for what he’s overcome this year while still making important contributions to the team, both on and off the field.  I am so grateful for the coaches at Champe lacrosse for this recognition of Sam, but also for the leadership and examples they’ve set for their team, the Champe lacrosse family.  I’m a bit conflicted as Sam will transition to the new high school nearer to us next year, and will branch away from the Champe lacrosse family and these coaches, but at the same time, Sam will be able to demonstrate his attributes at a new school, with new coaches and a new team.  I’m also excited that Sam and Luke will be at the same high school next year, and while they may not see it now, I’m grateful for the shared experiences this will offer them.  I’m also proud of Luke for his accomplishments in school this year; his hard work and dedication to academics are evident in his grades, and the humor, understanding and empathy that he demonstrates every day are reflective of his strong character.  There is a motto from Luke’s summer camp, “I am Third,” which represents putting others and God ahead of you, and I see Luke display this every day.  I was out with Luke the other morning and he brought up his grades from school for the year…. missed straight A’s with an 89% in math. He then also casually mentioned he received his second RISE (Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence) award of the year, nominated again by one of his teachers. “Dude, you gotta tell me these things,” I told him. He shrugged that off. Typical for the boy who chooses to be Third. I am so proud of both of my boys and so proud to be able to be their father. 

October 2018

 To think that we made it through the school year in tact does feel like a small accomplishment. We learned so much about ourselves and each other. We learned to do things, to try things, to fail at a few things and recover from those failures. I’m not quite sure how we did this; there were teachers who reached out who made a difference for sure.  Friends and neighbors helped us immensely. One thing for sure, I’m in awe of all the single parents out there who have done this a lot longer, with younger kids and under a lot more trying circumstances.  If you’re one of those people, hat’s off to you! 

On this day, this Father’s day, I remember Laura and thank her for what she instilled in our sons. I thank her for putting these two beautiful souls on this planet, who are so capable of love and support and humor and friendship and kindness and empathy and courage.  And I thank Sam and Luke for the opportunity to be their father and for our relationship.  I thank them for this Father’s day and everyday with them, and I celebrate them.  Being their father is the single greatest gift I’ve ever been given. 

Three Amigos. October 2018

Signs

In the days and weeks after Laura’s death, it took quite a bit of time for me to feel comfortable alone without her. I don’t think I’m truly comfortable now without her, in fact I know that I’m not, but I’ve become more accustomed to being alone. While my faith has been casual over the years, I’ve come to believe that there is something to life after, and the notion that those we love never really leave us.

Every spot in our house holds a memory of Laura. Every drawer opens a reminiscence. There are pictures of Laura, the boys, me, family and friends from great moments and memories throughout the house. I’ve changed some pictures and moved some around. One that I’ve kept in its same spot is one of my favorites that was taken in the pre-digital camera days at our wedding. It’s a picture of Laura and me as we left the reception. As we were about to get into the limo, one of Laura’s friends came to say goodbye, and the photo captured the two of us in profile. Laura looked like a movie star. She was radiant. I can remember that moment and the limo ride leaving there so vividly. It’s one of those moments in time that was so perfect. So beautiful.

There are times over the past months that I’ve felt like Laura was still beside me. Physically present. And there are moments that have stopped me in my tracks knowing that she was there. Is here. We are blessed to live in one of the absolute best neighborhoods in the world. The 22 houses on our street and others surrounding us are more than just neighbors; it is a true community. Our street, Ivy Glen Court, is the heart of our community, and our IGC friendships and gatherings are pretty special. The day after Laura passed, there were white ribbons tied in remembrance of Laura on each of our mail box posts, and they are still there after weathering the winter. The Sunday evening following Laura’s death, I was notified to come outside about 7 pm, just as the sun was setting. Unknowingly to me, our neighbors had organized a special memorial to Laura. For the entire length of our street, luminaires lined all the way from the start of IGC up to the cul-de-sac where we live and back down the other side of the street. The boys, my sister and me – along with the dogs – walked to the start of the street, where all the neighbors had gathered. It was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. There were hugs and sympathies shared. That afternoon had been cloudy and gray and the evening was, too. One of our neighbors who is an accomplished professional photographer captured some moments of the night, and there is one photo in particular that stands out. Just as we came out of our house and the sun was about to set behind the cloudy sky, the clouds thinned and a ray of sunshine burst through the early night sky to create a beautiful sunset. It was so noticeable and everyone outside experienced it, and experienced Laura’s love shining through at that moment.

The night’s sky filled with Laura’s love during the IGC memorial to her. I’ll never forget this night. This picture hangs in our front hallway now.

Even before this night, there had been other signs of Laura’s presence. At her service at St David’s, just as Sam and Luke ascended the alter to place a memorial white rose with her ashes, many people saw and later commented about the hawk flying in the trees directly behind the church. It first appeared during Reverend Mary Kay’s homily, as it gracefully soared just outside the windows of the chapel. And she stayed there, in our view, as we said good bye to Laura.

There was a sunset this week that brought back some recent memories of Laura, too. Tonight is the opening of the Twilight polo season here in northern VA, and to get ourselves and the ponies ready, we played a warm up game at Great Meadow the other night. I was pretty focused on the road during the drive down there as I was pulling a trailer with 8 of our horses, but when I got to GM and walked around the grounds, it brought back so many memories of being there with Laura. We had so much fun there together. I loved playing when Laura was there, and I also loved being there with her, watching other games, spending time with friends and getting to know new people. Last summer, the 20th of our marriage was special. In fact almost to a date, the last year of Laura’s life, our 20th year of marriage, was one of our best. I think we each had gained some perspective of who we were and just how special our marriage was. So being back at Great Meadow this week just triggered a lot of memories about last summer and about Laura. Being there took me to place where happy memories and grief co-exist. As we were coming out of the arena after the last chukker, a friend took the picture below, and it reminded me that Laura was riding with me.

Laura’s presence once again filled the evening sky this week (above and below right). Below left is Laura giving me a pre-game pep talk last summer.

There are coincidences and explanations for everything in life. But there are also our beliefs, and our ability to believe that she is still with us in different ways. I choose to believe. But in doing so, it also unnerves me at times.

As I wrote about in October 10, Laura was diagnosed with hypertension and had a prescription to treat it. That medication was kept in her medicine cabinet. We each have one above our respective sinks in the bathroom. They are the normal kind of medicine cabinet that are in so many homes across America: four of five shelves, about 2 or 3 inches deep and a mirrored door with a magnetic closure. In the days and weeks following Laura’s death, I became very aware of Laura’s medicine cabinet and a pattern that was occurring. I noticed with some pretty regular frequency that the medicine cabinet was open. A few inches. Never all the way open and not slightly cracked. Just a few inches. Opened. From its magnetic closure. At first, I thought maybe it was one of the boys as Luke and Sam were sharing my bathroom while we had family staying with us. But I questioned them and it wasn’t them, and then they moved back to using their own bathroom, and the pattern of Laura’s medicine cabinet was still occurring. Never my medicine cabinet. And it just doesn’t make sense. There was no one in the house opening it, or using it. There was no gust of air or something randomly brushing it or catching it to open it. There was just one explanation… that it was Laura letting me know she was there. Letting me know that it was her heart, so full of life and love, that had failed. In the weeks after her death, there were nights that I was anxious about going upstairs to our room and into the bathroom. I was anxious about that medicine cabinet, and scared that it was going to be open. And it was at times randomly open a few inches. After some time, my anxiety with the medicine cabinet seemed to release from me. I grew more comfortable seeing it open, and even began smiling and saying hello to Laura when I saw it was open.

It had been a couple of months, I guess, since I’d seen the medicine cabinet open. I had been working on moving forward as I wrote about in I Go On, and the boys and I were adjusting to our new norm: getting through and getting by. I also had experienced a sort of loss again; though it doesn’t compare to the loss of Laura in any way. That night, when I got home and went up to my room, in the bathroom, above Laura’s sink counter, was her medicine cabinet – open a few inches. As bad as I was feeling, it made me smile, and cry, knowing that Laura was there for me, extending her love to me. Knowing what I had just gone through, she was reaching out to me to let me know that I’ll be okay. She’s okay, we’re okay.

There are so many things that remind me of Laura. And there are so many signs around me that remind me of her and comfort me with her ongoing love.

Mother’s Day


Happy Mother’s Day, Laura. We miss you. This would have been your 17th Mother’s Day as a mom. I know you are still with us, but I wish you could be with your boys today. You did such an amazing job raising your sons, and you left us in the best possible position for me to take the reins. I see your imprint on the boys every day. The two souls that you raised and nurtured have all the best parts of you. You live on in them today. You were our light, and though we keep moving forward, we miss you. Please continue to shine your light and love on us. We love you.

This was definitely one of the hardest days of the year to get through. Your presence was felt and missed everywhere. Though we shared our love with my mother and yours, there was a profound absence and silence on this day. On top of it, it was cold and rainy. I did gaze often at the two Japanese maple trees in our front courtyard; one the boys and I planted for you on our first mother’s day in this house and the other for your birthday that year. We did do some things to honor and celebrate you on this day. One you would have enjoyed was the new Avengers movie, which we went to see. All three hours of it. It was a good distraction, and the boys enjoyed it. I spent most of it drifting in and out of thoughts about you, about life. I couldn’t help but think how you and Sam would have endlessly dissected the characters and plot after the movie, while Luke and I would have agreed that the action was pretty cool. I did ask Sam a lot of questions after the movie, to piece together what I didn’t remember from the last ten years of Avengers’ movies. It was quite a bit apparently.

I penned the following sometime over the winter months. It’s not really specific to Mother’s Day, but you have been in my thoughts endlessly recently, and reminds me to find peace in what has transpired, both at time of and after your death:

I thought I knew how the verses went,
But the story writes itself.
Plans we made for our second half,
Are now to be kept on the shelf.

I sought for answers high and low,
But those answers aren’t found on earth.
I thought I knew how the chapters flow,
But the story writes itself.

Call your name and expect your sight,
But there’s only silence in the space.
Reach for you in the dark of night,
But only find the memory of you in that space.

I thought I knew how life would go,
But the story writes itself.

Moving forward. I Go On.

Moving forward. I Go On. Life after October 10.

I cook, I clean, I parent, I teach, I drive, I commute, I work, I manage, I lead, I negotiate, I counsel, I discipline, I feel, I love, I go on. Since Laura’s death, we’ve had the holidays, and birthdays, and Mother’s Day. All those firsts that we got through.  Somehow. We remember, we miss, we grieve. We’ve traveled. We’ve raised a puppy. We’ve trained the dogs. We’ve tried things and stopped things. We tried a household helper, our own Mrs. Doubtfire. That didn’t work out.  We have a new driver’s license, and we had a first accident.  We’ve gone through almost the whole school year and the boys have studied and worked and focused. We’ve gone through a sports season with successes and wins.  I’ve bought cars and sold cars. I’ve donated items and de-cluttered the house. There’s still more to do.  I go on.

After Laura’s death, I took time off from work; about 3 months. The company was great in providing me the time I needed, and the people that I work with were, and still are, incredibly supportive.  I went back to work after New Year’s and spent the first few days staring at and studying my inbox.  Thousands of unread emails. I think ultimately I put any key emails from my boss into a folder and deleted about everything else (sorry if you’re still waiting for my reply). 

One of the most important things I’ve learned in this past year is that I can’t control much of what happens in life.  There are big picture things that are so much larger than us. I have always been a planner. I’ve set goals, I’ve worked hard and I’ve achieved them.  I can do anything I set my sights on.  One thing that comes to mind here is the sport of polo, and while I’ll never be a high goaler, I took up a very difficult, competitive sport, and I play with some degree of competence and skill.  It’s a contact sport at 35 miles per hour with a thousand-pound animal I’m in control of.  Frankly, it makes every other sport just a bit boring and slow.  My riding and playing abilities are things that I can control. I can set goals and work towards those.  I have and I continue to focus on improving those skills.  That’s within my control.  Similarly, a year ago, I had goals and plans for what the rest of my life with Laura and our family was going to look like.  Where we’d be in five years when the boys finished high school, where we’d be in ten years, and on.  Those all changed in an instant.  All my plans were gone.  I thought I knew how life would play out. Wow, was I wrong.

In the days following Laura’s death, I heard from hundreds of people.  Calls, emails, texts.  It was overwhelming.  It moves me still.  One of the most memorable texts was from a friend of mine, a professional polo player, and I played a lot of games with him last summer.  We won every game we played together and dealt with all sorts of stuff on and off the field.  Horse issues, people issues.  One of our teammates who went on an addiction bender.  One our horses that broke a leg in one of our last games of the season. We had to put her down.  We dealt with weather, and truck problems, and trailer problems, and horses getting loose. We won tournaments together and stood on a couple of podiums spraying champagne. We got pissed and yelled at each other a couple of times about the way we were playing.  And we had beers together after every match.   Anyway, he wrote me a simple text a day after Laura’s death that made me laugh.  He said, simply, “ Not sure even what to say.  I’m crushed for you and the boys….it’s been a country song of a summer…let me know when you need someone to drink a couple beers with….”  That text made me laugh.  And I so needed that laugh at the time.  So now our summer polo season is starting again, and it’s time to drink a couple of beers.  I guess, you could say, that the country song continues. 

I really don’t know what the next verse of my country song life will be.  I don’t know if it’s about joy or love or grief. Or drinking a couple of beers.  I don’t know what’s next, and I can’t control that. I can’t control how someone else feels about me or about anyone else. 

My marriage lasted 21 years. We were together almost 23 years. I thought it would go another 40. Being a 49-year-old widower was never something that I thought I‘d be.  Such is the country song, and so the story goes.  And so, I go on.  I move forward. I’ll never move on from Laura and our 23 years together, but I will move forward. Maybe one step forward at times and two back, but I will. I will go on. 

October 10

October 10, 2018 was the day that changed everything. First, I need to go back a few days. Laura and I had just ended the summer season of our lives, along with our sons, Sam and Luke. The summer of 2018 was awesome. In our 20th year of marriage that summer, I think that we had grown closer and stronger. I’m not embarrassed to say that the year before we had done some counseling together and it really had an impact on how we communicated with and loved each other. As school had started in September, we were in full swing with two sons now in high school, two established careers, a bunch of various activities, soccer, lacrosse and polo, travel and a throng of friends and family locally and around the country who we loved to spend time with.

I spent that first week of October in Chicago on a business trip with my team, at an annual summit meeting where we participate in readiness and training. It was a great week, and on Thursday night I was excited to leave and get home. We had plans for the four of us that weekend; since it was Columbus day weekend (still a holiday??) and the boys had a 4-day weekend, we were going to spend it in Manhattan, enjoying NYC in some beautiful early fall weather. I had booked a 2-bed, 2-bath apartment in Midtown thru Air BnB, and we had a full weekend planned. The trouble was, I hadn’t received check-in instructions from the “host” owner of the apartment.

I spent Friday morning trying to reach the host and contacting customer support for help. Finally at noon, Air BnB confirmed that the host was either out of country or a scam, and they couldn’t help in the situation. It was then past noon and we didn’t have a place to stay for the weekend. The support team offered to try to find another place for us, but Laura and I talked and weren’t up for the adventure of heading to Union Station to catch the train with the boys and hoping that something would be available for us when we arrived. I had visions of us ascending from Penn Station, bags in hand, wandering around at rush hour looking for a place to stay. Maybe in our younger days, but with two boys, we’d learn that beds, mealtimes and schedules were important – even if they were teens now.

In a way, I think Laura and I were both fine with not doing the weekend in NYC. I was tired from my travel, and she had been in Nashville the week before that for business travel, so the thought of a relaxing 4-day weekend was pretty nice, and the weather in our Virginia locale was beautiful that weekend. With 4 unplanned days, we started to unwind Friday afternoon and think about what we might want to do instead.

It didn’t take long before Laura mentioned that the breeder where we got our 3 year old black Labradoodle, Reno, was having an open house on Sunday. It would be “fun” to go “see” the new puppies. For months, our youngest son, Luke, had been pleading with us to get a second dog, so that Reno would have a friend. “He has a friend,” I often responded to Luke. “You.” Lately though, Luke’s persuasion might have been influencing Laura. More than once, she left the website for the breeder up on my computer in the office. There was some serious collusion that was going on between Laura and Luke on this puppy thing. Throughout Friday I was quite adamant that we weren’t going to the open house, because one of the golden rules is that you never just go “look” at a puppy. Let alone 12 of them at an open house. Sometime on Saturday, though, I relented and agreed to take us to the open house at the breeder’s farm in Berryville, VA on Sunday. So, on Sunday morning we loaded up and headed to the farm. I had an ace up my sleeve though… I didn’t bring a checkbook specifically to thwart any attempt to buy and bring home a new puppy. We’d had two dogs with our labs Indy and Leo, and we loved them both, but two canines was a lot of dog and a lot of work. I kept saying that we were really solid as a one-dog family.

We arrived at the farm and we greeted with two playpens full of Doodles. Labradoodles and Goldendoodles of different colors and sizes – minis, mediums and full size. This breeder is so well established in her Doodle breeding that she actually owns the url http://www.labradoodles.com. That is her website for Glen Eden Doodles, and if you visit the website, you get a feel for the cuteness of being greeted by a dozen puppies, and the uphill battle I was fighting to not bring one home.

Laura and I did agree on a few points about a second dog – even though we weren’t getting one…. it would be another male, another large-medium or standard size, but not “large” and would not be black to match Reno. As it happened, there were no puppies present or available that fit our wish list, which was a bit of a relief. There was one female that we all adored. She was a standard size, brown with a white chest. It was easy to fall for her, but we still had in our minds that another male would be a better choice for us. So, we were resigned to get back in the car and head home. Well, at least I was. and a bit relieved that there wasn’t a puppy joining us.

Then, literally seconds before we turned for our car – in fact our older son Sam was already in the car – one of the staff came walking out of the puppy barn holding a matching brother to the brown and white puppy. “We forgot about him,” she said. “He was in the dryer after getting his bath.” So yeah, there he was. 12 pound of brown and white fluff and sharp teeth. Just as cute as could be. It was all over for me. I had lost the game. *Surprisingly* Laura had one check in her wallet to counter the move I had made of leaving my checkbook at home, and within the hour, we were on the road with puppy in tow. The name game ensued and popular choices were Nacho, Chase, Jeep and the one that stuck was Finn. I think Luke came up with that one.

The rest of that Sunday was truly a blessed day. Beautiful weather. Finn and Reno took to each other easily, and Reno was a great sport about tolerating a puppy brother. Late that afternoon, I left to go play a polo match and I drove home that evening with the windows down, enjoying a beautiful twilight through the Virginia countryside, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. Laura and the dogs were getting along fabulously when I returned home. The family was together and dinner was a joyful time.

The joy was interrupted, several times, that night as we turned in for the night and introduced Finn to his new sleeping quarters, a crate in our room. I know he would have been happy, and Laura, too, to be snuggled in bed with us, but this was one battle I wasn’t going to lose. Just a few nights, I said, and he’ll get used to it. Since we were taking Monday off, a little sleep deprivation seemed ok to endure. Uh, maybe I had forgotten what puppies and newborns due to sleep. Laura and I both dragged around Monday after a restless night and experienced the same conditions on Monday night. Tuesday at the office, I was dragging and so was Laura at home, but we knew we’d prevail with Finn if we just kept to it and stayed firm. I arrived home from work about 5:30 that Tuesday, October 9th. The boys were in the backyard playing with both dogs, and there was a note from Laura. “Hi Guys! I went to get a haircut and highlight. Dinner is already made in the fridge. I’ll be home about 6:15.” Sure enough, there were two dishes in the fridge with instructions – one for the oven and one for the stove. I followed the directions and dinner was ready about 6:30, which is quite early for us, but it was ready and the boys were hungry. “Where’s Mom,” Luke asked. “Should we wait for her?” I explained that women’s haircuts weren’t like ours and took a lot more time, often with very strong or negative feelings about them once completed. “Let’s eat now,” I decided.

About the time we finished, Laura came in through the mud room from the garage. She was beaming. You could literally see joy on her face as she walked through the doorway. Her haircut and color looked great, and we all three boys commented to her and complimented the look. The boys cleared our plates, and we made one for Laura as she sat down to join us for her dinner. We caught up on all the day’s reports of Finn and Reno, since Laura worked from home. All four of us at the table and the dogs beside us, that was the last time we were all together. I’m so very grateful of that memory. There was nothing but love that night at the table. No complaints, no bickering, no arguing, nothing but joy and love.

The boys asked to be excused to descend to their game room in the basement, which was fine with Laura and me. After they cleaned the dishes, they went below. Laura and I moved to the family room with the dogs and both played on the floor with them for some time. We were both exhausted from a couple of sleepless nights, but happy in our surroundings. We discussed our plans for the rest of the week. Luke had a soccer game tomorrow night, Wed. and Thursday was our 21st wedding anniversary. Should we go out to the Italian restaurant where we went last year and took the boys with us? They enjoyed that, and so did we. Yeah, maybe let’s do. First, let’s get through the night. I had an idea from our days with newborns, that I would go to be bed early if she kept Finn up late, and then I’d get up in the a.m. hours when they puppy needed to be taken out. So, somewhere around 9:00, I headed upstairs. I don’t remember how I said good night. I don’t remember if I told her that I loved her or let her know how important she was to me. To us.

I was in bed and drifted off by 9:30. Around 11:15, I vaguely remember her coming in the room and putting Finn in the crate and then crawling into bed next to me. A little after 1:30 a.m., Finn cried, and I took him out. He did his pee business quickly, and I scooped him up and took him back upstairs, placing him back in the crate and myself into bed. He was quiet as a mouse, and I was back asleep quickly after a mere 15-minute interruption.

I awoke at 5:00, feeling really refreshed after a good sleep. Finn still hadn’t made a sound, so I decided that I would get him and take him out before he cried and woke Laura or Reno. I took him out of the crate and carried him out of the room in the pre-dawn’s morning hours. I spent a good 30 minutes outside with Finn. It was a warm October morning and the day was just breaking, bringing light to the world around us. We played outside and then I brought him in, where we continued to play. Around 6:00 I fed him his first meal of the day. He devoured it and after taking him back outside, I decided he was probably ready to quiet down a bit. I took him back upstairs and slipped into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I left him loose in the bathroom while I showered, and it wasn’t until I was shaving after the shower that I heard Reno “knocking” on the door to see Finn. After opening the door, the dogs began one of their playful wrestling matches, with Reno providing loud auditory groans and grunts for sound effects. They spilled and tumbled together from bathroom to bedroom, where Laura was still asleep in bed. I wondered how she could sleep through this new racket going on. “Really tired,” I thought. I passed Laura in bed on my way to the closet to get dressed and coming out, passed her again. This time I paused to see if she was really still asleep.

Something was not right. She was sleeping on her stomach, quite common for her, but she still hadn’t moved. Nothing. She had rolled from back to her left with her right arm on the pillow beside her head. As I watched her, I noticed how white her hand and arm were and thought maybe it had fallen asleep as she’d slept wrong on it. I reached across the bed to the hand and touched it to check on her. “Honey? Laura?” When I touched her hand, I just knew. It was cold. She was cold, and my touch on her became a shaking to wake her. I ran to the other side of the bed to roll her over. There was no response. Laura was gone.

The next moments were traumatic. Certainly the most traumatic of my life. I grabbed a phone. Dialed 911. Pleaded for help to come. The operator provided instructions. Get her our of bed. On the floor. A hard surface beneath her. Begin chest compressions. Put the phone down. On speaker. Count the compressions with me. One, two, three, four,… “It’s not working, she’s not responding! Where are the paramedics?” Luke, always an early riser himself, was in the doorway. “What’s happening? Is everything OK?” The bed was between us, and he could see my head, but couldn’t see his mother on the floor on my side of the room. “Mom’s sick, Luke. She’s not well. Go downstairs and unlock the door. Wait for the paramedics!” I sat back and looked down at Laura. Crying. I was still trying the chest compressions. “Where are they? I need help.” I heard people and noticed the flashing blue and red from the ambulance and fire trucks lights filling the room along with the dawn’s light. Paramedics came in and I stepped out. I found Luke in the hallway. “What’s happening?” he asked. Fear in his voice. About then Sam walked out of his room – a look of confusion. “Come here, I said.” He joined us in the loft space that was Laura’s home office. I had no explanation for them – I hadn’t yet said anything other than “Mom’s sick”.

The three paramedics came out of the bedroom slowly. Not rushing and not with Laura. The last of the three looked at me and waived me over. He took me into the room. “I’m sorry. She’s gone. It’s been too long. We got here too late.” WHAT??? “From what we see, it looks like her heart.”

I took the boys downstairs. To the living room. The room we never use. The Christmas tree room. We sat on the couch we rarely use. I put my arms around the boys. “Mom’s gone. Mom died.” I couldn’t breath. Couldn’t talk. We held. Each other. Cried. Sobbed. “How? What” I don’t know…. I don’t know how. what.

From there, it was surreal. Next a deputy. Then a chaplain. Then a Sheriff’s sergeant. The brought down the dog crate with Finn in it, and closed the bedroom. We sat with the dogs in the family room. I made a couple of calls. My sister. My brother-in-law. A neighbor and close friends. Lots of emergency vehicles in the cul-de-sac. Lots of neighbors coming out, taking their kids to the bus stop. Questions. Concerns. Shock.

Questions to me started. Explanation that based on circumstances, this had to be investigated. First the deputy then the sergeant. They wouldn’t let friends in the house to see us. A “Crime scene” until cause of death and homicide ruled out. It was like some fucking movie. The sergeant wanted to question me in the living room. The boys sat alone in the family room.

“I need to be with them,” I explained.

“No, you’ll stay here and answer my questions.”

“No, I need to go to be with them.”

“No you’re staying in here.”

“No, you can get the fuck out of my way and out of my house.”

“No, you can leave here in handcuffs if I want. I can do that in this situation.”

I pleaded with the chaplain who was standing by and watching this. She finally intervened and let me be with my sons.

Time passed minutes. Maybe into hours. a detective arrived. the Chaplain introduced us and calmly, we sat down together in the living room. I answered his questions, I shared every detail I could. No drugs, no addictions, no coke, no heroin, no meth, no opioids. no struggles, no signs. Laura may be the only CU grad who never even tried pot in her life. She was clean. Happy. Healthy. Loving. And no, I didn’t take her life. I shared as much as I could. The only prescriptions in the house were mine – various meds and painkillers. Vicodin for an old injury. Stuff like that. All in my medicine cabinet.

Time passed. The medical examiner was coming. Laura was still upstairs. A crime scene investigator was coming, too. Through the help of the chaplain, they let us leave the house to go three doors down to neighbor friends. I had shorts and flip flops. and a phone. No wallet. No keys. No money. that was the deal. OK.

The boys and I waited there with the dogs. the chaplain came. Requested I come back to the house. the detective and CSI. More questions. That sergeant was still there and he tried to apologize. “Sorry, I’m a big guy and can be intimidating to others. Do you want to pray with me?” he asked. No, I didn’t want to pray with him to make him feel better. I still needed to be with my sons. They let me leave again. Chaplain stayed with me. I made more calls. Tired to figure out what to do. The detective came down the street. Asked to speak with me outside. Scared. What’s happening. He described their investigation. In her medicine cabinet, behind her perfumes was another prescription. For her. Valsartan 80 mg. Take once daily. Used to treat high blood pressure.

Oh my God. I had completely forgotten about that. She had been to the doctor some months ago. Felt fine. Just an annual exam. But she had high blood pressure. They prescribed this. She took for some time, but stopped. We hadn’t talked about it. I’d forgotten about it. She hadn’t refilled the prescription.

Laura wasn’t keen on doctors. Me – better living through modern medicine. Her – are you going to go to the dentist this year? Me – 3 dental cleanings per year. As many things as Laura was good at, doing doctor things for herself wasn’t one of them. She never missed an appointment for the boys – physicians, dentists, othro, allergist,… she was on top of it all as a mother.

That day continued. The detective described they were turning over the investigation to the M.E., terminating the homicide investigation. Some relief. But what now? Coroners came. They took Laura. Didn’t want the boys to see that. Before they came, they let me go back. Into my room. Alone with Laura. I knelt beside her. Still on the floor. I held her hands. Kissed her face. My love, my girl, my wife, my best friend was gone. Goodbye, my love.

October 10, 2018 was the day that changed everything. In the days that passed, there were details. I spent the next day, Oct 11th meeting with a funeral director. The weather had changed. It was cooler and raining. That day, October 11, 2018, was my and Laura’s 21st wedding anniversary. Instead of spending it together, I spent it at a funeral home mapping out bits of plans. It took some days before the death certificate was issued by the attending doctor; finally I was called to pick it up. Cause of death: Coronary Artery Disease and Hypertension.

I drove home on October 11 from meeting the funeral director feeling very alone. No anniversary celebrations, only grieving. The loss was unbearable. I stopped. I cried. I drove. I stopped. I cried. I drove.

Never in a million years did I think this could happen. Odds are it should have been me. The male. More stress. More travel. Higher odds. But it wasn’t. Instead I looked in the mirror and saw a 49-year old widower. Two incredible sons. A small but close family. Loads of loving friends. A dog and a puppy.

A beautiful wife. Gone. A life left unfinished.

Laura loved her lists. She was known for her lists. Grocery lists, shopping lists, vacation lists, gift ideas lists. I am forever finding lists around the house. On her desk in her office was a list of to do’s for October. “Doctor appt/Cardiologist” was on the list. How I wished that would have been on September’s to do list.

Laura’s beauty lives in her sons everyday. I see it in them. In the faces, in their mannerisms, in their character. She shaped two beautiful souls in the boys she raised, and I so wish she was here to seem them today. To be in her office when they come home from school, where they each spent time telling her about their days.

I so miss Laura. Everyday. In different ways. Moving forward has been the mantra. Have to. I move forward but not moving on. I’ll continue living and fulfill some of the promises we made to each other about the future. But hard to move on. Part of me will always be stopped with her on that morning of October 10.