I write this knowing the inevitable. A whole year has gone by and I can't help but think back to that very day we had to put you to rest. With your casket closed and being rolled out of the church, a number of rows filled with your loved ones who are lost for words while holding onto every breath struggling not to completely break down.
Comforting each other, holding each others hands, hugging each other for warmth - whatever we had left after such an unbearable morning. It was all too surreal, all too early, and one of the hardest things we've had to go through, for many, thus far.
Who would have thought that the photo of you through our makeshift ring light would be the one shared across every single person you knew and loved. That during a core memory of putting the light together, sharing a bottle of whiskey, and entertaining ourselves with millions of portraits of each other, would later be captured as your best - utmost - beautiful self. I'm glad I kept that photo.
There hasn't been a day this whole year where I haven't thought about you. And although that pinch in my heart and that lingering bitter taste is still very much there, I've grown to live with it - knowing that it's there to stay.
I find myself laughing in solitude when I'm reminded of the stupid things we used to do which later turns into tears. I am still trying to find my way and I'm sure you know how difficult it has been without you.
There are days where all of us are together and we're laughing at something ridiculous and for that split second, it feels like you're there. There are days where I'll be driving down Portage with this urge to roll down the windows and sing my heart out to Hedley as I look over to the passenger seat only to notice you're not with me. There are days where, even though you've never been to our house on Clifton, I can imagine you with me in our nook when the morning sun is seeping through the window and it catches a blind spot from where I'm sitting. I can imagine you sitting in front of me beside Ronnie, complaining about how hungover you are and asking what's for breakfast. There are days where I've completely had it with R and I sit alone in our house only to imagine you knocking at our door because he told you to come over to keep me company. There are days where I'll check my phone wishing that I kept our old messages and that my last message to you wasn't what it was.
I've imagined what it would have been like had you still been here as Ronnie planned our engagement. I can imagine your excitement, your part in all of this, and how big of a hug you would have given us when we were surprised in our home. The celebration would have lasted longer had you been here.
I've replayed all that I could of you to keep my memory of you alive and I know that I shouldn't feel guilty for finally being excited about our future, but I am full with remorse. I know you would have hated to see me this way; grieving the loss of you this way. I know how present you would have been with everything that went on this year, especially with Jeni, and it will always break my heart to know that life eventually goes on.
I always want to remember the times you were at your healthiest. I want to remember your big smile, your comforting eyes, and your dorky laugh. I want to remember you in your liveliest form and when you were the happiest. I am grateful to have witnessed some of your greatest moments, your vulnerability, your kindness and your forgiving heart. I promise to continue telling stories about you and to visit you even if I cry every time. I promise to laugh, cry, dance, and to live in the moment. I promise to save you a seat at our wedding and to continue lighting your candle in our home.
I'll try my best from over here - I promise.
You are still very much loved. You are always missed. You will always be remembered.
A whole year and a lifetime more, Jey. I miss and love you, always.