Six years ago today you headed out the door for what would be your final bike ride. You checked the tires on your bike, oiled the chain, filled two water bottles, kissed me good-bye, left, came back for some unidentified thing (I still wonder what brought you back, and if those additional moments cost you your life), and then kissed me good-bye again. After that last touching of lips, our lives would never again be the same.
Every August I approach this day with trepidation. I wonder why the reality that you are never coming home doesn't lose some of its sting. Shouldn't I be used to this by now? You'd think after 2,190 days I could open your cupboard in the garage without tears burning my eyes. And yet, on Saturday when I pulled open both wooden doors to reveal the "stuff" I haven't yet been able to move...the life I used to lead jumped out and smacked me right in the face. The force that was you screamed from each tire tube, sports watch, track shoe, Livestrong band, and trail map that are safely tucked inside that 2'X4' space. The memories of daily runs, weekend bike rides, day long hikes, and various family trips floated through the open cabinet doors, taunting me with the nearness of what was; I had to shut the doors a couple of times to take a breath.
Because your death still takes my breath away. Because it still isn't fair that you aren't going to need those stupid deflated tire tubes. Because I loved the life I had that included you. Because you were important to so many people. Because collectively, we miss you every single day. Because the world isn't the same without you in it. But when I opened that wooden cupboard, it was like time traveling. Whirling back through the moments that made up our life together at warp speed, only to come to a crashing halt on the door step of reality. You are still dead.
And yet, you aren't. I still feel you. Not in the ghostly sense, but in the warmth of love. You can be found in laughter, especially the laughter of children. I feel your determination and discipline when I want to quit; your confidence in me when my own wanes; your ability to let go of troubles, when holding on seems the much safer course, every time I face uncertainty. You know me, and knowing that you know moves me, changes me, and propels me to dig deeper, try harder, reach further...make a difference.
Your sense of fun has inspired many a silly conversation, and a number of pranks. Your dedication to the people you love has changed their lives, even after yours ended. Your ability to push yourself to achieve your personal best has inspired many an athlete, some who race in your memory. Your refusal to be anything other than who you were, has cemented your place in the hearts of every person who loved you.
But perhaps your greatest legacy is the fact that those whom you loved, know they are loved still. That is what I hold onto when the reality of your death sneaks up on me. You loved me. And you still do.
I love you now and always,