It’s been a year now since you passed away. A year go yesterday you were still alive, but a year ago today you were not. I can easily say that this has been the hardest year of my life that I have had to live so far. I tried to write about the week you passed away, tried to write down all that you went through, all that I saw, all that I felt. I got about halfway through it & just couldn’t do it. Maybe I’ll finish writing that story one day, but I’m not ready to just yet. Today, I just want to talk to you & tell you about this past year.
I don’t know what was harder honestly, having my heart be broken by your death, watching my mom’s heart shatter from losing her dad, or seeing my grandma, your bride, be torn apart by losing the love of her life & best friend. I held her the night before you died. I laid right where you should have been laying & held her while we both cried. I held her until she stopped crying. I rubbed her back while she took deep breaths all night long. There was no other place I would have rather been that night. I held her for you & it was the second saddest moment of my life. The first was the next day when you passed away.
The day you died was a day I always dreaded to live. And then I lived it, & it was just as painful as I always imagined it to be. Did you know I used to cry whenever I’d leave visiting you & Gra’s house? Whether it was just one tear as I shut the door & stood on the porch, or a faceful of them as I drove away. I always cried after seeing you because I knew a day would come when you wouldn’t be there anymore. I didn’t ever want to live that day. And I still can’t believe that I did. I remember that day so clearly. In the end, you passing away was what was best for you because in the end it wasn’t you laying in that bed, but a version of you instead. My heart broke in half that day & it was the beginning of the worst & best things I have ever experienced.
A few weeks after you passed away Tyler & Shelby told us that they were going to have a baby. Tyler’s a dad, your daughter is a grandma, & I’m an aunt. Raegan Lynn Macaluso was born & I so wish you could have met her. She looks just like Tyler Pa, & she makes the best faces just like you did. I could just imagine you making your silly faces at her & her doing them right back & you just laughing. I was so torn when found out they were having a baby. It was a day I had always dreamed of living, the day my best friends would become parents. But it happened to come just after the day I had always dreaded. I was so happy for them, but I was still so sad about losing you. It took me a long time to work through the difficulty of being happy while you’re still so sad. But I’m proud to say that just before she was born I did though because I love my niece more than anything & the day she was born I found a new kind of joy Pa.
Did you know you were my source of joy Pa? You really were where I found it. Through you making me laugh with your jokes & me getting you to laugh with mine. You were my true joy under the sun, & with you gone I really felt like I was living under a permanent storm cloud. This year I cried so much. I cried in coffee shops with Trevor. I cried in restaurants with my dad. I cried on walks with my mom while she cried too. I cried driving alone in my car. I cried with Gra when we’d talk about you. Let’s just say I’m not afriad to cry anywhere the tears decide to come. I still cry. I’m crying as I write this, & I don’t care. People think tears mean weakness, but I think they’re just what happens when you can’t descibe how you’re feeling. Pa I don’t know how I feel about your death. Some days I’m fine. While other days I cry on & off remembering you’re gone. I loved you so much that I don’t think this pain will ever fully go away, & I’m honestly okay with that Pa. I’m okay with remembering how much you meant to me & letting tears fall because what I feel is indescribable. I’m okay with you being the only boy who will forever break my heart because of how much I miss you. You were my first love Pa. You were the one who made me feel adored most by just being. No one could make me laugh like you & it was my purpose to return the favor. You once told me that you’d lost everything but your humor, well I hope to carry that humor forever in me.
I hung out with Gra a lot this past year. I never knew how much I enjoyed being around her until you were gone. Because you died I got to know her in a more intimate & personal way. She’s funny in a way that you are not. She loves in a different kind of way than you did. She’s strong Pa, stronger than I could have ever imagined. She’ll say that your dog Teddy misses you, but I think that’s her way of saying that she does. I walked along side her this entire year making sure she was okay during every big event or holiday she had to live apart from you for the first time since she was 18. To witness the brokenness in a lover’s eyes as their beloved passes away is something I don’t want to see again. But I’m glad that I did because I got see a pure love that lasted decades & never grew weaker, only stronger. And I didn’t mind being her person this past year because I wanted to be there for her, I didn’t want her to be alone because I know the pain of loneliness without having lost a husband. It was hard to see her lose you, & it’s still hard when we talk about it. She misses you so much. I can’t wait for the day that she gets to see you again.
If it were possible, I wish you could make me laugh just one more time. I wish I could walk through the front door of your house, lock eyes with you while you sat in your chair across the room & see that smile of yours light up your face when you saw me, just one more time. I wish we could drive to the dump in your old truck in Smith Valley just one more time. I wish we could play cards just one more time & that you’d yell at me for not paying attention & accidently throwing a wild card to Gra. I wish you could tell me to sit on the floor & let my feet hang over just one more time. I wish that you could tell me just one more time the story about how your dad bought you your first car that was red. I wish you could pick me up after school just one more time. I wish you could tell me about how you met Gra just one more time. I wish we could go to Costco together just one more time & I could take creepy pictures of you while you eat. I wish I could help you walk to the car super slowly just one more time. I wish I could hear you joke about how all you needed in life was Gra & your chew, just one more time. I wish we could watch a western or John Wayne movie together just one more time. I wish we could make your burritos together just one more time. I wish that I could hold your hand just one more time. I wish that I could make you laugh just one more time because that was my favorite thing to do the last few years. I wish that you could ask me just one more time if I had a boyfriend because this time Pa I could say yes. I wish that all the just one more time’s would be enough time, but it wouldn’t be.
Pa if you hadn’t died I wouldn’t know what true pain felt like. I wouldn’t have known what it was like for my heart to break, truly break. I wouldn’t have grown so much. I wouldn’t have learned so much about grief & life this past year. I wouldnt have gotten so much closer to my mom, or Gra. I woudn’t have appreciated the presence of my parents like I have this past year. I wouldn’t have become the Abbey who I am now. I wouldn’t be the girl who now understands that life is just hard sometimes & that it’s perefectly okay to be sad, or upset, or angry. It’s okay to feel. Whatever you need to feel, whatever you need to be, it’s okay. I want to say that I’d do absolutely anything to have you back, because I honestly would Pa, but you’ve given me so much in your death, more than I could have ever imagined. If you hadn’t died I’d still be where I was just over a year ago & I don’t ever want to be that less experienced person again. Your life brought me life, but your death taught me how to live Pa.
Thank you for being such a good husband Pa that your wife never doubted that you loved her. Thank you for being such a good dad Pa that my mom calls you a love of her life. Thank you for being such a good father-in-law who my dad loved & who taught him so much that he then turned around & taught to me & my brothers. Thank you for being such a good grandpa Pa that your presence in my life has made me who I am in ways & your absence has changed me forever.
I gave myself a year to grieve you. A year to be sad. A year to be broken. A year to live out of your death. That year is over now & even though I hurt just as much as I did that day, I have to live differently now. It’s no longer the hardest year of my life. Now, it’s going to be the years after the hardest year of my life. I miss you Pa, & I don’t think there will come a day when I don’t. I’m glad you’re finally free from the pain of this world, & I’m okay I’ve had to live in pain if it meant that you didn’t have to anymore. But I’m ready to live a life that you could be proud of, a life like yours; where I leave behind a loving family legacy. Thanks to you I know what that looks like. Thank you for bringing me that boyfriend you promised me you would just before you died. Thanks to you, I have a lot to be thankful & grateful for. Thanks to you, I better know who I am. Thank you for being the source of my joy for 22 years Pa. Thank you for countless laughs, jokes, love, & memories.
Until we lock eyes again Pa,
*brought to you by a girl who will forever love her Pa