What do we wish most for those we love? That they live a life free of suffering and pain. We want them to be healthy and happy. We never say it out loud, but we hope they pass away peacefully in their sleep, at an old age.
I will never forget the night I got the call that Tim had died. I will never forget Christine's voice, or the way she held back her tears. Her quivering voice, and Jose in the background in pain. She had to share the thing we never want to say out loud.
The fact that Tim passed away in his sleep, was a small consolation. Essentially a newlywed, with his first child less than one year old and the recent news of twins on the way. One moment he was away overnight on business, having a deep and meaningful conversation on the phone with his husband, and the next he was gone from our lives forever. How could it be? How could this happen? It wasn't fair and we all wailed and screamed into our pillows.
We held Jose, cried with him, and worried about the future. We mourned not only the loss of Tim, but also all of Tim's losses as a result. He would not live to see his children grow up, and he would not live to grow old with his husband.
Time has given the space needed to find calmer waters and feel peace in moments we least expect it. Sorrow washes over us in waves, and crashes down sometimes when when least expect that too. We all grasp for answers, hoping this tragedy will teach us something.
What it taught me hard and fast was this:
Tell the people you love that you love them whenever you want to, whenever you feel like it, don't hold back.
Kiss and hug your children all the time.
Live the cliché and enjoy your life, every moment or as many moments as you can muster.
Try to embrace your joy, and stop putting things off for later.
Be in your sadness when it comes, and don't push it away.
On the anniversary of that painful day, I will use my checklist above. I will think of Tim, the place he is buried, the tulip tree near his grave, his husband who I adore and his beautiful children's smiles. And of course I will think of his own amazing smile, which traveled across his face and made his eyes sparkle.