If I could talk to you one more time, I would tell you what life felt like the morning after you died.
I would tell you about how bleak and dark and lonely this world felt. I would tell you how I cried and cried and how it was almost unbelievable to me that you were never coming back.
I would tell you about the day we went into the cold, cold funeral home and identified your body. How you looked at peace for the first time in a really long time, but that didn't really make it any easier. How dads shoulders sagged as he wept for you. How it was like a horrible nightmare, seeing you lying there. How it wasn't really you, because your soul was long gone, but seeing your broken body there was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Knowing it wasn't REALLY you. Knowing the real you was gone to me as long as I live on this Earth.
I would tell you about the day of your memorial. How your ashes weren't ready and how we laughed at how you were late to your own funeral. How the funeral home started playing a song as I was standing there, about to try my damnedest to memorialize your entirely too short life with words I didn't even remember writing, and I whispered to our sisters who were standing on each side of me, "Oh God, he would have hated this".
Oh honey. You would have hated it.
Not as much as I hated it.
If I could talk to you one more time I would tell you about the day after the memorial, after the people went home. How dark and cold the world felt. How I wondered if any of this was real. How much I hoped it wasn't.
How I wondered how I would live the next day.
Or the next year.
Or the next twenty years.
It felt impossible that day.
I would tell you how I had to ease back into my life. How kind my coworkers were. How the people at my Bootcamp wore buttons that said "We love Steph". How when I finally stepped back in front of my Zumba class I smiled and laughed for an hour and then cried all the way home and for the rest of the entire day.
How it still doesn't seem real.
I would tell you how we worried we would lose dad just about a month after we lost you. Triple bypass. Totally unexpected. How terrifying those months were. How I walked endless loops around the hospital grounds listening to the Dolly Partons America podcast, trying to figure out how this had become my life. How much I missed you. How much I wished we could have faced this together.
I would tell you how much I worry about and love your kids, and your granddaughter. How much they miss you. How much we all miss you. How I will never let them go, not just because they are amazing and I love the Hell out of them, but also because they are what I have left of you.
I would tell you the pain is getting easier.
Some days that's the truth.
I would tell you about Megan's adventures in Yellowstone. How much she grew up over the Summer. How mature and smart and responsible she is. How Jonathan is almost done with Grad school. How brilliant and wise and blindingly funny he is.
How much they love and miss their Uncle Chris.
I would tell you how the Mountains of Wyoming look. How big and bright and beautiful the world is. There is such an amazing world beyond this tiny town and all of its problems. How much we have left to do to make it the world we want to live in.
I would tell you, my sweet, broken brother, about how some days are really, really bad.
How I had really big goals and plans for 2022 and the vast majority of them have fallen completely apart.
I would tell you that some days I struggle to get out of bed. That some days I can't seem to find my purpose. Panic attacks wake me up most nights. My sleep paralysis demon (Brenda) says, "Hey".
I would tell you, honey, the sun rises again.
I would tell you that the only thing we can't fix is death.
That no matter what it takes, I would help you.
I would tell you that you matter. You matter. You matter.
That I am so lost without your friendship.
I would tell you that there are nights I pray for morning, because the darkness that took you knocks quietly at my door.
I would tell you that I don't judge you.
I would tell you that I understand.
I hate it, but I understand.
I wish you could have seen how much you meant to me.
To all of us.
I would tell you I love you.
I wish I had just one more chance.