there are a few days of the year that always seem to be particularly hard on me:
august 4 and december 19.
the day my best friend was born and the day he died.
ever since i was born, i shared a very special bond with my grandpa tom.
i can't even explain it. i was his best friend and he was mine.
i loved doing everything with him.
anytime he was working on the boat or pool, i'd be sitting out there with him.
every day while he was at work, i would beg my mom to take me to see him.
sometimes, i'd even fake sick so my mom would take me to the doctor's office just so i could run to his office and sit on his lap and share a symphony bar with him.
for whatever reason, this birthday has been especially hard.
i don't know what it is.
maybe it's because this december will mark ten years since he died.
maybe it's the realization that he's almost been gone longer than he was here.
or maybe it's just that i'm weirdly, overly sensitive right now.
all i know is that i need my grandpa here.
i miss him so much it physically hurts.
i still replay the last memories we had together over and over in my head.
our last trip to disneyland where we took our last picture together.
my weekly visits to see you at the nursing home, even though you didn't remember who i was.
the thing that absolutely kills me is that i almost didn't leave the birthday party that night.
the night my mom asked if i wanted to go see you one last time.
i didn't think you would actually leave me that night grandpa.
what if i hadn't been there for that horrible night?
i still remember it all so vividly.
i hated seeing you like that.
i could tell you were in so much pain.
but there was nothing i could do for you.
my heart dropped when you died for that split second.
i wasn't ready for you to go yet.
i thought there was hope when you came back to life.
but when you came back and remembered my name, i knew it was the end.
i knew heavenly father had given you a few more minutes to say goodbye to me.
i will never forget the feeling when you said "i love you mckenzie."
because i remember holding you and crying and feeling no fear for the first time in so long.
i knew you were going to be at peace finally.
so even though it absolutely killed me to have to say goodbye,
i knew you were always going to be with me.
you weren't going to be sick anymore.
you finally wouldn't be in any pain.
i was going to have a guardian angel.
those first few seconds after you took your last breath felt like an eternity.
the world moved so slow.
i couldn't believe you were gone.
i still can't believe you are gone.
i honestly didn't know how i was going to make it without you.
i still remember "i know that my redeemer lives" playing at your funeral.
that song still makes me cry to this day.
but it reminds me of you, grandpa.
i feel so dumb still getting so upset over something that happened nearly a decade ago.
shouldn't it have stopped hurting by now?
it feels like someone came and ripped my heart out.
and i don't feel like it's getting any better.
i used to be able to see pictures of you and smile, thinking of the memories we shared.
but now i burst into tears every time i see your face.
will it ever get easier, knowing you are gone?
i know i gained a guardian angel that snowy december day.
i felt your warmth and strength around me as i healed.
i know you were there with us the day of the accident and kept us safe.
i know you were there with me when i went away to camp that next summer and got homesick.
i know you have been there through all of my trials, pushing me to get back up on my feet.
i feel you in everything i do.
i want you to know that everything i do is for you.
all i ever wanted to do is make you proud.
you were my biggest cheerleader and my role model.
i will always look up to the example you set for me.
so while i cannot explain the bond we shared, i know it was real.
you will always be my best friend.
i find peace in knowing i will see you again someday.
but until then, i want to thank you for continually watching over me.
i love you and miss you more and more with every passing day.
happy 81st birthday grandpa.
i hope the party in heaven was beautiful.