Happy 46th Birthday babe! I know you wouldn’t have liked the number, your joints would have ached a little more. You wouldn’t have regretted the rodeo and the hard-charging life you lived where your heart was bigger than the obstacles in front of you.

You would be cursing and appreciating the self-sacrificing part of you that won-out every time with your desire to live big and boldly. I am glad you didn’t have to suffer that pain too much. I am so, so glad you lived fearlessly fitting all you could into this crazy, beautiful life.

You would still be working out and once in a while eating a whole giant party size bag of laffy taffy’s with a guilty/not-guilty smile on your face. We would still be working on being the best we could be and would definitely be laughing at ourselves and the hilarious jokes our kids make on the daily. I’m grateful your laugh was so ever-present that I still hear it today when I know you would have been doubled over from the wit they have! I’m glad you get to watch from above and can’t wait to look back on it all with you from the other side.

I know the years here are seconds there. I’m okay with waiting for that time. The more I live, the more I realize time is irrelevant.

You would still be the same, steady constant in my life encouraging me not to give a shit about what other people think of the way I dress, the passions I want to pursue and the actions I try to find that are the most “right”. I’ve grown a lot in all of those ways and hopefully you wouldn’t need to remind me of it a whole lot anymore.

We would have built a fire pit, and had our amazing neighbors over more often. You were so much better about that than I am (and I LOOOOOOVE our neighbors!!) I feel like you and God had a lot to do with me living her and I’m pretty sure they are a large part of the reason why.

You would be slowing me down, encouraging me to cuddle on the couch with you more. Hopefully I would have found that balance by now.

I sometimes feel old and as much as I look at what is good, I still miss seeing myself through your eyes. The way you said in such a soft and almost reverent way, “you are so beautiful” - I knew that, to you, I truly was. You also would probably still come up behind me, with arms around my waist saying, “I’d still do ya’” as you laughed in response to my saying, “I don’t like this outfit.” I’d still roll my eyes wondering why that never got old for you and still made you laugh. Of course I’d still end up shaking my head and smiling at your pure joy with yourself.

I would have had you here to put my head on your chest and feel the comfort of your arms when I felt that others didn’t see me for who I am. I wouldn’t have grown in the way I have now to feel God ‘s ability to comfort me so much. I might not have seen our son’s desire to step in and provide the shelter you would have. He has your ability to analyze people and size them up quickly. He has your ability to draw boundaries clearly and succinctly without being unkind. He encourages me to do the same, just like you did. It’s uncanny how much of you lives on in him and I know you would be so proud of him in the ways he is different from you too. He’s forging his own unique path and I know you would have respected it.

Our daughter’s beauty, self-confidence and dry humor take my breath away. I know it would have blown your mind. She always had a way to your heart and drew out a sense of amazement unlike anything else you experienced. I wish she could see it in your eyes today. I’m so glad she already knows that would be your response. You loved her so well. She’s a lot like you - especially in the way she doesn’t much care for stupidity in life and doesn’t mind at all letting other people go unanswered when it’s not worth her time. Her sense of justice and quiet knowledge that she will fight for others when the time is right - is strikingly you.

You would still be encouraging me to dress how I want, pursue the passions I want and do what felt was “the right thing” not giving a shit what anyone else thought of it. I’ve come a long, long way with that. Thank you for helping me build that foundation.

You gave me a heck of a legacy to carry on for you. I hope you feel I’m doing it justice. You changed and altered many peoples’ path with your life and even your death. For me, you changed everything.

Together, you and God have forged a version of me so different, and i think/hope, better that it feels appropriate my tombstone is next to yours. That version of me feels so distant and long gone. I’m glad for that and wish I had known more to love you better. I believe, with the perfect knowledge you now have, you wish the same. I think we did an amazing job with the information and experience we had. I also believe, from the other side, you see how deeply in love I have always been with you and how irreplaceable you always were. I am starting to feel like you’re sending me the same feeling from you. I hope both of those things warm your heavenly soul and make you smile that big smile of yours.

I love you, babe. I celebrate your life maybe daily. I think you would be proud of me for learning how to focus on the good and not let it make me cry as much. Today, it’s a mix, but I’m planting life with flowers and trees all day. It makes me happy. I’m going to plant a few in your honor specifically.

The deep red roses along the arch of our front door will remind me of how love is the entry to all things good and how it’s worth the time and energy to take good care of it, taking the time to build a strong trellis for it to grow on. It will remind me to prune the deadwood, with gratitude it served its purpose. And hopefully, it will remind me not to be concerned with the occasional bees threatening to sting as I walk through a door arched with love.

Happy Birthday, my love! I hope heaven is throwing you a heck of a party and the angels are embarrassing you with an epic serenade! I am deeply grateful for your life and the joyful way you shared it with me. I love you Chris. I always will.