A few weeks ago, I came down there to Texas to see Sarah. I know you (and Megan) have been keeping an eye on things over the past months. You guys have watched us get to know each other and fall in love. You’ve watched us have fun together in Kentucky, and Virginia, where I met your mom. Through endless phone, skype, and text conversations, late into the night, I can’t help but feel like you were there, maybe not guiding anything, but watching. I’m pretty sure you’re happy.
So at that time, it got a little more interesting I guess, for both Sarah and I, as well as yourself. I was on your home turf. I walked off of the plane in Austin, and your fiance was waiting there for me with a kiss and a smile.
I’m not going to say that it wasn’t thought provoking. We hopped in your truck, and drove the hour or so to the ranch. I’d seen the inside before, in pictures and though Skype, but there you were, staring me in the face from the wall when we walked through the door. This was it. I was now truly in your space.
Oddly, it wasn’t difficult, or awkward. I didn’t feel as if I was trespassing on your memory or not supposed to be there. Chalk some of that up to the similarities we shared in personality I guess. It felt like I was simply part of what has always been there. It was already getting late, so Sarah and I hit the rack that night, and I let my mind wander with thoughts of what the next morning would be like, waking up and having your family see me walking around the kitchen.
I’m happy to say your family welcomed me as warmly as Sarah has. Hell, your mom came out in the morning, when we were getting our coffee, and gave me a hug. Your sister shook my hand and smiled, and they went off into town for their day.
But I guess you saw all this already.
Then, and for the entire weekend, I had this indescribable feeling that I was not taking your place, but serving your purpose. I’m my own man. I know it, Sarah knows it, and your friends and family know it. I went to lunch with your mom and sister, and it felt as if I was simply visiting for the 100th time. We didn’t make concrete plans for anything, other than camping that weekend, and as it turns out, after a nice night of dinner, finally meeting your stepfather (who is such a great guy to talk to), and an impromptu date with Sarah, I drove your truck home.
I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t incredibly meaningful to me. I have a truck myself, and I know how much it means to have someone else drive it. Its this odd sentimentality about our vehicles that guys like us have. To be driving your truck was surreal. It felt natural, and out of place at the same time. I didn’t really comment on it to Sarah at the moment, but she knew anyway. I might as well have been wearing your clothes.
Then came the reason I was actually down there that particular week...Drewfest. I specifically was there to be a part of the celebration of you that occurs every year since that dumbass accident. I respect you, totally, and fully, without even knowing you. You had to have been a hell of a person to not only have Sarah’s love, but to have the love of the friends I was about to meet. I see the same thing with Megan. She was small in frame, but she had a hell of a presence to everyone that knew her. I can’t imagine what kind of influence you two have wherever you are now.
I can’t state more strongly that I again felt like I was there all along. We didn’t sit there and talk about you, or the fact that everyone was meeting me for the first time, after hearing about me for months. We had a fun, enjoyable weekend as a group of friends, and not once did anyone get emotional or did I feel like I was a “new” person, to be watched with a critical eye. We sat around a campfire, that I set up, and shot the shit for hours. We didn’t forget about you. In fact, we remembered you more fully as a person, and not someone who was obviously missing.
After another day of tubing and campfire talk, Sarah and I went back to the ranch. Did you see what happened next? I fired up the grill, and we cooked fajitas for your family. I hope I made you proud with my grilling skills, because the whole time I was just pondering how cool it would have been to have you and Megan sitting there on the patio with us, sipping a beer and talking about how good the chicken smelled.
That’s the thing. Through all of this, I wished you were there. Having you there in the flesh would only have enhanced the weekend. I can sense that we would have been fast friends, probably to the ultimate annoyance of Sarah and Megan, but then again, they would have been allied as well. All of us would have made a hell of a group. There are times when it feels like Megan and yourself would have made a good couple, and honestly, I hope that you two are indeed together, because I know she’s in good hands.
As Sarah wrote, I visited your grave the next day. Of course it was solemn, but it wasn’t just because I felt bad for Sarah. Somehow, I miss you too. Maybe not as intensely as I miss Megan, obviously, but I still wished that I didn’t have to not know you in the flesh. I was visiting the final resting place of a friend.
Someday, you and I are gonna sit down and talk about all of this over a good beer. Truthfully, I hope that someday is a long time from now for both Sarah and I’s sake. I’ll take care of things here, and love Sarah like she deserves to be loved, as long as you agree to watch over Megan and take her for some helicopter rides where she’s NOT going to the hospital...she’d love that.
Wherever Sarah and I end up, your picture will be hanging on our wall right beside Megan’s, and I’ll be proud to have it there.
Every other Tuesday, I write for Widow's Voice, the blog of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. This post was originally published at that location. Widow's Voice can be found at http://www.soaringspirits.org/blog