You might not remember our first meeting. Wow…he is big! That is what I thought the first time you appeared from around the corner of my house. You and Jackie were car-shopping (I think) and she had apparently dragged you along. You were wearing long shorts and I noticed a large Celtic tattoo on your calf. You were polite but didn’t smile…not once.
Joni Rose was rather oblivious that day. Or maybe that is just what I thought. She was reeling from her recent break-up with the abusive Frenchman, so I was surprised when a few months later, I discovered that a spark had ignited between her and the Hulk with Tattoo. But something was happening; and even though I was absorbed by a new romance of my own, I could see it all over her face.
In the nine years since you asked my permission to marry Joni Rose; I have come to love the gem of a man underneath that first impression. You are handsome and extremely intelligent. But you are also all the other things mothers want their daughters to marry; responsible, ambitious, principled, and tender-hearted. I believe you will love Joni Rose for this lifetime and beyond. I know you healed her heart and made her shine again.
The first time you met our extended family, Joni told me you couldn’t believe that people really talked and interacted that much. Even so, you have carved your own place among us and have discovered how to flourish around gregarious men and opinionated women.
I admire your rebel spirit and patriot’s passion. Being around you makes me feel safe, and I have no doubt you would give your life without hesitation for your principles and the people you love
But you and I are connected by something more now. We are grieving. I might be further in the journey than you, but I recognize the emptiness and pain in your eyes. Living with the loneliness of life without my Mom, I have been humbled to watch the staggering losses you have experienced in such a short time.
Uncle Barry, Grandpa Bill, Uncle Kent and now perhaps the hardest of all; Grandpa Moore.. in death, they have taken with them pieces of your childhood, your life experiences, and countless shared, now sacred memories. It feels like part of you is gone too, doesn’t it? I have listened to the way you talk about each of them. They are your heroes; diverse and unique … strong, driven, masculine, courageous, protective, tender, kind men. They were keepers of your innocence and the architects of your spirit.
Protective as you are, I know you worry for those left behind. You helplessly watch your Dad grapple with losing his band of brothers while shouldering the burdens of the last living son. Like you, my heart aches for Grandma Joyce, widowed just in time to bury her youngest child. And Grandma Afton, losing her sweetheart after years of their struggle to hang on to independence and to each other…a poignant love story I hope you will cherish.
I don’t understand why certain people leave us so soon…I am still struggling with why they leave us at all! Even when our sick and infirm are released from pain and suffering, we ache in places we never imagined would hurt so much…and for so long. I can tell you it will get a more bearable with time, but as you know so well already, it will never get easier to lose people we love.
I am so sorry this has happened to you so young.
How lucky we are to know you. This family stands with you and will be there for all that is yet to come. I am sorry for your loss. But because of you, we know more about these men who shaped your journey. We see each of them in you.
Know they are proud.