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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Letter to Heaven

September 4, 2014

Dear Ron,

Today it has been 10 years since you left this earth. When I first realized that it would be 10 years soon, that seemed impossible to believe. How could it possibly be 10 years since I saw this sweet face?

The first photo I ever saw of you.

But what I have realized is that in no way does that amount of time—or any amount of time—alter the fact that you and your love changed my life forever.

Little did I know, on a date I can't even pinpoint much less remember, when I joined a site called christiancafe.com, that I would encounter and eventually fall in love with the sweetest man I have ever known. Little did I know, when I went into the chat room. Little did I know, when we had our first private chat. When we started chatting outside of the site. When we started talking on the phone. As I drove to the meetup where we first laid eyes on each other. Through all the fun we had, alone and with the rest of the group, throughout that gathering.

I shall never forget that moment in my apartment when the thought that you'd be leaving the next morning brought tears unexpectedly to my eyes. I shall never forget that when I asked if you ever thought about us as more than friends, you said you'd been thinking about that for a long time. I shall never forget how we dreamed together about the future. When we officially became a couple. That time in the hot tub. The moments you first said "I love you" to me and when I first said it to you.

Thank you for loving me. You were such a bright spot in my life. Your love helped me see myself more as lovable. You proved to me that not all men are the same. You accepted me exactly as I was and weren't put off by the knowledge of what was in my past. You called me your beautiful lady and other names too special to share.

I'm also so very grateful that I got to be the one to love you to the very end of your life. To love you in a way that I suspect you might not have been loved before. To love you from the inside out. I'm so glad I got to the point where I could say to you—and really mean it—that the weight didn't matter to me. I knew and cared about you, the real you, the person inside. And when you said you were trying to lose weight for my sake, because "I'd want you to be proud of the man you'd married," well, that melted my heart. And of course it broke my heart that we never got to fulfill that dream.

But you are a part of me. You will always be a part of me. No amount of time will ever change that fact.

As I'm certain you know, I've faced opposition for calling myself your widow, for continuing to speak of and honor you as I have throughout the years. But no one else was in that relationship besides me and you. I'm the only one left on the planet who knows what it was really like between us. And because I know how we were, because I know what we'd planned, because love is worth honoring, and because grief does not just go away: I will always honor you and our love. I will continue to identify as widowed and will support other widows as long as I live.

You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I can never thank you enough for coming into my life, for being your sweet self, and for loving me.

I loved you then, I love you now, I will love you forever.

Love,
Me

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In Loving Memory: Stephen "Steve" Kersten: May 24, 1965–July 5, 2014

Dear Steve,

I wrote the above and then have stared at the blank rest of the page many times, because I hardly know where to begin.

It was my good fortune to work with you for seven years. And when I think of all the colleagues I've had over the years, you are definitely in the favorites category. Early in my time at the company, we were in different departments, and our interaction was relatively limited. But I remember even from that time that you were unfailingly helpful and of good humor. During your "unscheduled break" from the company, you gave of your time and knowledge to help me understand tasks that then fell to me, which was certainly above and beyond the call of duty. I remember how excited I was when I learned you were returning and would be joining our department. And I even got to sit across the aisle from you for quite a while after that. We shared many good conversations and much laughter, not to mention a shared love of Celine. You added so much enthusiasm, passion, knowledge, and fun into our days.

And when my Ron died, you were an understanding presence in the workplace, something that is rarer than I even understood at first. While I wouldn't wish firsthand knowledge of real grief on anyone, I was grateful to have someone nearby who got it.

I regret that I didn't keep in touch after I myself left the company, and that therefore, I didn't get to tell you about the changes in me that have happened since then. But I believe that you know about them now, as I believe that spirits who pass to the other side of the veil can hear when we speak to them (which is why I speak to you now and of you in the present tense). I hope that you are proud of and grateful for the ways in which my mind and heart have changed.

And now I'd like to say a few words to those who love you most—your partner, your family, and your dearest friends: The thing is: there are no words. There are no words adequate to encapsulate this experience. There are no words that make this better. Words may be powerful, but they are not that powerful. All I can say that I hope can serve as a tiny candle lit in the darkest of dark rooms is this: Love never dies. It is my hope that the love you had and have for him and he for you will sustain you in the days to come. Long live love.

Steve, you enriched my life and the lives of everyone who knew you. I will always be grateful for that, and I will never, ever forget you.