The List

When I was in my early-to-mid twenties and getting to know my 'needs' through relationships – when a partnership ended – I would add attributes to 'the list'. You know, the list that women, and some men, devise in their mind or journal of what their partner NEEDS to be like.

When one relationship ended and another began, I generally would dismiss every red flag that appeared. My girlfriends would calmly say something like, "I thought you weren't going to date any more men who drink that much?" or "Remember how you said your next boyfriend was going to have a job?" or "Do you think meeting someone who's fifteen years older than you and has never has a relationship longer than six months is a good call?" or "I don't think he's actually single." I became very good at dismissing the warnings and concocting a reason in my mind regarding how and why this person fit the bill. I'd generally give it a good year or more before realizing that the warnings should have been heeded.

I would leave the relationship more broken than I was when I began. Generally, my pride would be incredibly damaged. Sometimes, I would have been taken advantage of financially. My friends and family would have a little less faith in my decision-making skills. Maybe I'd loose some friends altogether in the process. But, even though I NEVER adhered to it, I had my list. I also learned lessons along the way. I may have been stubborn or not always acted wisely when I moved forward, but the lessons were in me.

Then around Christmas of 2012, I went through yet another shitastic breakup – one that I should have seen coming since day one, one that I should not only have heeded the advice regarding but one that I should have been smart enough to see myself. So after that breakup, I ripped up my list. I decided I had set my standards and hopes too high. Essentially, I gave up on love. I'd have to settle.

I reworked the list:
• not an alcoholic
• not abusive
• not severely in debt
• not mentally insane
• well-endowed (bonus)

I decided I no longer cared if the person had 'baggage' – like six children or a hateful ex-wife. I originally wanted a man who was smarter than I and who would always keep me learning, but I gave that up. I decided as a twenty-eight year old women, I was far too old and too fat to attract a good-looking man, so I would be OK with someone who was passable in the right light. I decided a man who owned a home or, shit, had a savings account was asking far too much. I gave up on needing a man who was athletic or interested in health. Good-in-bed and passionate, I let it go – as long as he was decently endowed I would just do the work myself. I thought a good relationship with his family and parents who are still married would be a strong plus, but then I decided to scratch that too, that was cutting out fifty percent of men at least, and I needed options open. A man who likes children and would be a good dad was an original necessity, but I let those go too. I preferred a democrat, but hey, forget it. They were hard to come by in Texas. Someone who's well-traveled or at least had a stamp in his passport. I let it go, no passport necessary. A man who would try yoga or in the very least not ridicule my practice... that was also eliminated from the list. Someone who had his own passions and hobbies – oh well, I decided, no hobbies is fine. A man who doesn't drink a lot. Well, I guess that's not my choice to make. I wouldn't want to seem too overbearing. I'd love a man who appreciates the arts, and isn't all math and science. But, screw it, bring me a computer engineer. I'd love a guy who likes to enjoy fine food and wine – however, I gave that up too. Chicken lo mein and White Zinfandel are eclectic, right? A man who doesn't watch TV or play video games for hours a day would have been nice, I but I gave it up. On my original list, I wanted a man who brushed his teeth at least twice a day. I dropped it, I'll deal with fuzzy-sweater teeth. Originally, I thought it would be great if he put the seat down after peeing. Scratched that off. I had always dreamed of having a man who liked to dance with me and would randomly start to sing out-of-nowhere, but I had never actually met a guy like that except for my Dad, so I crossed it off the list with the decision that men like that weren't a part of my generation. Oh yeah, kind and funny... that would be cool, but I guess I could live without it. Also, I gave up needing a MAN. I decided to keep my options open to women too, even though I'd never swung that way.

So, let's just say I lowered my standards.

And then I met you. And, for starters, you fit my five needs.

Then, I realized you automatically fit a bunch of the other attributes from "the list" that I'd pitched and smudged-sticked away the memory of. As we continued to date, I realized you were fitting into more and more of those desires that I'd given up on. I began to fish them back out of the dump in the back of my brain – checking off checkbox, after checkbox, after checkbox. I told you about my list. You laughed. You had done the same thing. We were each other's list. And more than that, we were even filling the little boxes at the end of the lists, the hopefuls at the very bottom, written lightly in pencil. You were the definition of my list. You were the one I had been looking for all along. You were the man of my dreams.

When I learned about how obsessed you were with dental hygiene, I was tickled. You were dedicated to teeth-cleanings every three months. You couldn't believe I hadn't gone in over a year! You not only knew your hygienist by name (Stephanie) but you also knew her little girl was Sami. You didn't only brush, but you also flossed. You bought my an electric toothbrush for my birthday.

When we began dating, you came to your first yoga class within a month. You told me you'd always wanted to do yoga, you just hadn't had someone to show you how. You'd imagined someday dating a yoga teacher so she could show you the ropes. It had been a pipe dream of yours. As we continued to date, our practices grew together.

You put the seat down after peeing every time.

I remember the first time I heard you sing. We were in your bathroom in Boulder. I was still in the shower, but you were toweling off. You began to sing. I don't remember the song. I froze. I couldn't believe it. My heart started to beat so loudly I thought I'd be able to see it pounding through my chest. I fell in love with you more in that moment. I got out of the shower, and decided to test my luck. I walked over you to hold your hands. You took them, pulled me in, and we danced. Naked. While you sang to me. It was fucking glorious.

And then there was your family. Not only were you close with them and your family very connected, but it just so happens that I've know them for over fifteen years. Your youngest sister is one of my closest friends. She'd sent me a birthday card at dance camp when I turned thirteen. I'd attended your other sister's wedding. I went to the same school as you. Your parents are kind, generous, funny, and classy beyond my highest expectations.

And then, as I met your extended family – I was floored. Over and over. Every single member of your family was incredible. They were intelligent, sophisticated, beautiful, healthy, creative, and doing good in their lives and the world. I couldn't have dreamt of a better family to marry in to. I never thought it was possible to love a family as much as I loved my own – and then I met your family, and I could. After I'd meet a new cousin or uncle, I'd say, "Seriously Ted? Do you have anyone whose not gorgeous in this family? Do you have anyone whose socially awkward? Any black sheep, anywhere?" No. None. Nada. I couldn't believe this was to become the family I would be a part of. This was the family that I would summer with, raise our own children beside, and get to know more and more forever. I was the luckiest woman alive.

And then there was you, my love. Simply you – none of the 'stuff' that you came 'with'. Not the house, the vacation homes, or the bank account. Not the stamps in your passport, liberal mindset, love of music, or passion for sushi. Not even the family or the way you made my heart jump when you held a baby. Just you.

A man who was so kind. Who would reach across the car and rest your hand on my leg while driving, without thought, just to touch me. A man who would look me in the eye and smile with devout love when we were simply chopping vegetables. A man who surprised me on my doorstep in Austin when we were still dating long distance – with roses. A man who would hide polished stone hearts in secret hiding places for me to find when I wasn't expecting them. A man who always said "NO" when I asked if my outfit made me look fat. A man who every time we were sat at a booth in a restaurant would move the menu from across the booth to the same side, and slide in beside me, just so we could be a bit closer. A man who in yoga, would give up the spot in the row he liked and come to the front, next to me, so he could hold my hand in svasana. A man who always remembered to leave the lights on if I was coming home later. A man who would listen when I had something to say, no matter how silly it was. A man who taught me new things about myself everyday. A man with more depth than the deepest floors of the ocean. A man who was willing to change but always stay true to himself. A man who would kiss me softly if I needed it. A man who would kiss me hard if I needed it. A man who was a better man when he was with me, and made me a better woman when I was with him.

And now, here I am without you. Lost. Confused. Unsure. Did something wrong. Did I ask for too much? Was it all a cruel joke? What do I do next? Where do I go from here? How can I live without you? Do I burn the list?

Witness to love

About ten years ago, my second-cousin Celine got married. I went to the wedding. It was on the beach on Long Island, just outside of the City. It was the most spectacular wedding I'd ever attended. The one-hundred or so chairs faced the ocean right near the sand volleyball court that Celine and her family had played on most summer weekends throughout her life. Celine looked stunning as she walked down the aisle – a gorgeous dress, black hair, olive skin, light eyes, and supermodel looks made her radiant. But there was another thing that made her even more radiant  – her love.

When Ken, her fiance, saw her approaching – I witnessed a powerful and genuine display of unconditional love. Tears streamed down his face as his eyes danced with unabashed joy. I had never seen anything like it. I remember an onlooker near me whispering to her neighbor, "Not many people are lucky enough to find a love like that." 

At one point during the ceremony Ken surprised Celine by having an airplane fly across the horizon, above the beach, with a love note trailing behind it – in French! It was a inside message the two of them shared, they're own secret flying overhead. It was the most romantic thing I'd ever witnessed. She was giddy. Even more giddy than she had been moments prior, on the beach altar, on the happiest day of her life, next to the man she was marrying. When they kissed after the pronouncement, I felt as though I was inside of a romance movie. It was perfect. The love I saw between the two of them was unexplainable – it was simply true love.

The wedding turned into a reception on the beach. Ken, besides being the most adoring man I'd ever seen, is also a famous chef and had graced the pages of People Magazine as one of their most eligible bachelors. Celine had walked into one of his restaurants in Boston one day. They met when she sold him French delicacies for his shop – fine cheese, truffles, or maybe caviar. They both spoke French, they both spoke food, and they soon learned, they both spoke love.

For dinner, Ken's friends, renowned chefs, many of whom appear on the Food Network, all set up food booths as their gift to the new couple. Much like the love, the food was out of this world. The dancing began and continued late into the night. A Spanish glass wine vessel, called a porron, was passed around the dance floor all night, spilling thin streams of fine champagne into our mouths. I danced with family and friends, but what I really remember was watching Ken and Celine embrace, love, and dote on one another throughout the celebration. I, as a woman in my early twenties, had been to many weddings, but I had never seen an honest display of love like this.

It was that night when I decided someday I too, would find true love.

Over the next ten years, I gave it my best shot. Over and over, in fact. I love hard. I put it all out there. And I give it my best. Then I met you. And you were searching for the same thing. And then, we finally had it.

I knew our wedding was going to be a showcase of that same love I'd witnessed on the beach between Ken and Celine. I knew what they had, we now had too. I'd waited, and it was worth it. The first time I visited you in Boulder, I walked into your bar and saw a porron sitting on the counter smiling at me. A sign, I thought to myself. I often told you, "I would do it all over again if I knew I got to be with you in the end, Ted. I would go through all the heartbreak, all the wrong choices, all the shit, all of it. As long as you are at the end." Is the Universe testing me now? Is that what this is?

About six months after we began dating, you came with me to Maine where my parents live in the summers. It was your first family trip with me. On the front end of the journey, we traveled to Kennebunkport to meet up with my dad's cousin Tom, his wife Maryanne, daughter Melanie, Celine, Ken, and their babies. I had told you about that infamous wedding and you were excited to meet the family I loved so dearly and the couple I admired. On top of that, we were dining at one of Ken's restaurants called "Earth" – you were impressed by the James Beard award, the menu, and the dedication to local fare.

The visit went well. Almost perfectly. Almost. You had let the kitchen know about your allergy to sunflower seeds and pine nuts. We both knew everything on the table was fine for you to eat – except the squash ravioli. At some point, your appetite and curiosity got the best of you. You looked at me, your face was swollen and your eyes were watering. "Not the squash ravioli?!" I asked. "I forgot. Everything was so good and I just got excited," you responded.

You begged me not to tell anyone. This was your first trip with my family and there was no way you'd want to upset the Iron Chef winner and cousin of mine who was seated just a few chairs down. I swore I wouldn't. You excused yourself to the bathroom, to, as you always said, "pull the trigger." I stealthily got a hold of the car keys and looted your dop kit for Benadryl.

You were gone from the table for a very long time. By the time you came back from the bathroom, most of the table was done eating. You, being a tortoise-paced eater, still had nearly all your food on your plate. More wine was drank by the rest of us as you tried to eat your food and hide the nausea that was consuming you. But the chef never found out. (Until now, possibly.)

On our drive from Earth to our cabin, about 2-hours along windy coastal roads, my father decided to take the "scenic route". It was dark out and there was little to see, so my dad's choice was confusing. My father also happens to be one of the world's most jerky drivers. You sat, stone-faced and silent in the back of the car – stomach writhing and throat contracting. I gripped your hand as we swerved our way to the cabin. You were such a gentleman. You didn't want anyone to know. I honored that, but all I really wanted to do was cradle you, rub your belly, and run my fingers through your hair until you drifted to sleep in my arms.

Ken and Celine's wedding was the first time I started dreaming about my own. And then when I finally met you, nearly a decade later, I knew it would finally happen. While a wedding seems trivial to me now after all of this loss – for that decade, I longed for my big day. And when I met you, I could finally see it. I imagined friends witnessing our love and it being proof to them, after their own potential doubt, that true love was real. That they too deserved it. That it was worth the wait. And then we would help other people to fall in love too.

So now, here I sit – alone, but knowing. I know it's real. I know I got to taste it. And maybe I'll have to wait another lifetime to taste it again, like I said I would. I will have to go through it all over, just to see that glimmer, to feel that warmth, and to dip my toe into unconditional love. And if that's the case and you're there on the other side, it will be worth the wait.


Oh Teddy. I needed you so much today.

Black Friday – the day when Americans rise at the crack of dawn to stampede over one another for a flat screen TV – twelve hours after giving thanks for what they already have. I slept in and avoided the crowds. I tried to keep the thanks that abounded yesterday present in my spirit – but a gratitude hangover kept creeping in. The high (a very relative high) of being with family, loved ones, and surrounded by comfort had worn off – and a low set in. The aching, deep sadness welled up in my body and heart spilled out all day.

I took my grandma to her doctor's appointment. Walking into the clinic was incredibly hard. The smell of the waiting room brought back the trauma of the emergency room. The forms made me recall that night when they wouldn't tell me what was happening with your condition but they were asking me for IDs, co-pays, and insurance cards. Sitting in a doctor's office with that bed, different, but still so similar. I watched my grandma get her blood pressure tested and I knew my own was through the roof. I could hear my heartbeat in my temples. Deep breaths, I told myself.

Last spring, we went out for sushi with Chris and Cassie. I hadn't been feeling very well for a couple days, my stomach had been upset. After polishing off a boatload (literally) of sushi between the four of us, you and I left to go home. On the way home my stomach began to cramp like crazy. I lowered the passenger seat all-the-way back and moaned the whole drive home. You began to get very concerned. By the time we got home, the cramps had gotten unbearable. I had work to do and was dedicated to completing my deadline versus resting. My steadfast focus on work always drove you nuts, but especially in that moment. I laid in bed, gripped my stomach, cried, and laid out pages for my magazine in between running to the bathroom to vomit.

You were beside yourself with concern. I was convinced that I would be OK and tried to keep working. You wouldn't take no for an answer. You nearly dragged me to the car to head to the Emergency Room. I asked if I could bring my computer so I could continue working, you wouldn't hear of it. You were convinced it was appendicitis.

I had never seen you drive so fast. You were going seventy MPH down the strict thirty-five MPH zone on Broadway in Boulder. I joked, "You're going to kill us just getting there! Is this how you're going to drive when I'm in labor someday?" You looked at me and I saw that you had tears streaming down your cheeks. "Sami. This is not a joke, I don't know what I would do if something happened to you," you were dead serious. That was one of the moments when I realized how much you loved me and how you couldn't imagine life without me.

After ninety minutes in the ER, an IV, various failed attempts to hit a vein to insert said IV, a CT-scan, and a urinalysis – the diagnosis was in – it was a bad urinary tract infection and a sushi overdose. I left the ER at 2 am with a bunch of cranberry pills, a mild antibiotic, strict instructions to pee after sex, and a $10,000 bill (not an exaggeration).

As I slowly paid my bill off each month, I would remind you about your paranoia that night, about how you thought something was so wrong and it had been minor. Every time, you would insist that we had done the right thing. You would launch into a long explanation about how you wouldn't know how to go on without me, you had never been so scared in your life, and about how I was your everything. Despite the bill, I agreed with you. We had done the right thing. I would wrap my arms around you and promise that I would never leave you.

When the tables turned the night of your death, I acted in the exact same way that you did. The instant something seemed off, I called 911 – three numbers I had never dialed consecutively before. Three numbers I never, in my worst nightmare, expected I'd have to dial. Before panic set in, adrenaline filled my veins and I acted to the best of my ability. Except adrenaline and action weren't enough. We didn't get off lucky. We got off horribly, horribly wrong. And now, I am learning what life is like without you. And it's not OK. I am not OK. And in moments of sheer devastation, I scream at the sky, "How could you leave me? You said you would never leave me!"

Today, after my grandma's appointment, we went to a restaurant in Perrysburg to grab a salad. As my mom, grandma, and myself sat in a booth – we noticed some commotion behind us near the door. An elderly man had slipped and hit his head. He was passed out and a crowd of people were gathering around. Sheer panic began to fill my body, my hair stood up on my skin. "We already called 911!" I heard someone shout. I turned to my mom and said, "This is not going to be OK for me."

Within a few minutes (not sixteen...) I saw emergency lights flashing against the brick walls of the restaurant. "Do not turn around," my mom instructed. I turned around. EMTs filled the front of the restaurant responding to the man's needs. "He is going to be OK. He conscious," my mom said. I didn't turn around again. I gripped the booth with my fingernails, trying to ground myself. I took more deep breaths. I sat in that booth, quivered, and sobbed silent tears for the next ten minutes until the man left. He was OK. 'Why him. Why was he OK and Ted wasn't? He's an old, frail man and Teddy was only 34. Ted still had his whole life to live!' I tried not to think about it. After the commotion died down, I stood up to refill my coffee. My legs felt like jello. I thought, 'Oh great, now I'm going to pass out and they're going to have to come back for me.' The thought of myself in an ambulance made me snap out of it. I let it go.

The reaction of the trauma is nothing compared to the loss. But together, the pain and stress continue to snowball. I try to go on with my days, but they feel so empty. I try to put out of my mind what this holiday season was supposed to be for us, but it sneaks in. It was supposed to be so beautiful. It was supposed to be the happiest holiday season of our lives. And as I walked into stores today, holiday jingles chirping and evergreen candles casting out their nostalgic 'Oh what a wonderful time of year!' scent, I felt constricted with grief and emptiness.

I had a dream with you in it last night. I was snuggled up with you on a chair. We were arm-in-arm and my legs were draped over your lap. I asked you if you had any idea where we would be one-year from now. You said you didn't. You said, "I know where we will be ten years from now, but I do not know where we will be in one year." Then, I remembered that you were dead. I wrapped myself around you, started to cry, and begged you not to leave. Your skin changed to a grey color and you became cold and hard as I held you. You were gone. I wept as I embraced your stone body.

I do not know where I will be in one year. I do not know where I will be in ten years. And it is so hard, because just weeks ago, I KNEW. I knew where we were headed. I knew how beautiful it had all become, and that it was only getting more beautiful. We both shared with each other often that we felt that we deserved it – we deserved to finally be so happy. With you, I felt complete. I felt held. I felt loved. I felt whole. I felt fearless. I felt secure. I felt accepted. I felt creative. I felt nurtured. And for the first time in my life, I felt ready. And now, I feel none of that. I feel empty. I feel lost. I feel bewildered. And I feel lonely.


Last night I curled up in my bed in the home I grew up in, one-thousand miles away from our home, but just miles away from the home where you also grew up in. I laid in bed with Kira snuggled by my side and studied the situation. I thought about the thirty Thanksgivings that have come and gone for me, and the thirty four for you. I thought about all the nights I had fallen asleep in this bed, mind abuzz with wonder, romance, excitement, and heartbreak. I wondered if it was the sadness night I'd ever had in that bed. And as I drifted off, I thought about how hard today would be, Thanksgiving.

I woke up this morning in that nostalgic spot – my childhood bedroom. Kira yawned lazily and stretched out long beside me, happy to have escaped from the two other boisterous dogs who rule the house now. I thought about my best friend, Aliyah, who is hosting Thanksgiving in New York City for her family and in-laws. There were major storms there last night so I hoped that everyone had made it safely and in time to help prep turkey.

It's fair to assume that everyone is missing someone today. Maybe it's a relative who can't get in town because of a storm. Maybe it's a loved one who is on the outs. Maybe it's a friend who can't afford to travel or has other plans. Maybe it's a partner or child who is spending time with the other family. But, in the spirit of thanksgiving, I ask that we look deeply at what it means to miss someone. Chris Gewald pointed out to me that after his wife Sarah died, he doesn't say "I miss you" to people anymore. They're still here. Maybe you can't touch them or share the same room with them – but they are just a phone call away. They are present in this life. And while I don't intend to preach, know that death can reshape what missing someone truly is.

We all have issues come up around the holidays. For some it's travel and weather, for others it's stressful in-laws and family, some don't have enough money for food or gifts, others may not have a place to go, in some households a burnt turkey may ruin everything, or maybe a relative drinks to much and embarrasses himself, and for some – it's a bright yellow highlighter over loneliness or loss. As I woke up this morning, I realized that every single problem people may be experiencing is absolutely legitimate. Its not worth it to assign a grade or a measure to issues that arise. It's all relative. But while we can't always control what happens, we can control our reaction to what happens. And today, on my most sorrowful Thanksgiving, I choose gratitude.

I remember last Thanksgiving. We spent it with my close friend Lauren. It was my last weekend in Austin before we woke up on Monday to move me to Colorado. After a nice dinner and a lot of wine at her house, we went to another friend's house. A couple hours later, an incredibly expensive bottle of wine was opened. We had already consumed a fair amount of wine, our pallets were by no means cleansed. We knew the wine was good, but we knew it was good because we were told it was good, we knew the price, and mainly, we knew all wine tasted good at that moment. After that experience we often used that situation to measure relativity. (We also often drank the expensive wine first, so we could actually enjoy it.) We are conditioned to know what's good, what's bad, what's right, what's wrong. You have to taste all the wine, and make your own call or simply trust. 

Even though this is my first Thanksgiving without my best friend and soul mate, without a man who has shaped the lives of so many people with love, depth, and grace – I choose to react with gratitude instead of wallowing in self pity. I choose to be thankful for what I do have, instead of what I don't. This year, I have the knowledge that TRUE love exists – while I may not physically have it by my side, I know its real. This year, I have a warm blanket of loved ones holding me. This year, I have not only one family – but two – mine and yours. I have two sisters that I never had before. They may not be sisters through law, but they are sisters through love and through grief. I have a seat at my family's table and a seat at your table; it's because of you that I am blessed with that offering. I have my health, and I am deeply grateful because my body needs its strength in order to hold my cracked heart. I have security – my job has allowed me to take all the time I need to heal before coming back to work. I have my yoga practice and my students – and I know that because of you, your life, and your death, my practice and teaching will never be the same. I have help – friends, family, therapy, and the world have all opened their arms. I have my life. And this year, most importantly, I have you. In what form, I do not know – maybe a spirit, maybe an angel, maybe a memory – but I hold you in my heart with gratitude.

And for all of that, today, I give thanks.

Static and Soundtracks

Five weeks ago, life was rich with color and bright with sound – high resolution. Then, that Friday night, my screen turned to static. All of the pixels are still there – but the picture, the color, the sound was lost. Life is static now.

In painful but clear moments, I will have flashbacks to our time together. However in general, it's been very hard for me to remember much. It's as if the trauma of that night caused amnesia, and now I'm left only with bewilderingly hazy memories. I want to remember all of you. I want to remember every breath, every word we said, every time we held hands, and every kiss we shared – but I can't. Like the static screen of an old television that needs its antennas fiddled with, I only get blips and blurry images that pop in for a second or two.

My flashes of memories come and go, and are often onset by my surroundings – sights, sounds, songs, smells, signs. Here's some breaks from the static:

Today as I drove between Desmoine and Chicago I witnessed hoards of mediocre-at-best drivers making their cross-country trips to spend the holiday with family. As I judged and cringed, I remembered my first time driving to your house in Vail. I was at the wheel with you seated shotgun. You lived in Vail for many years so you were very comfortable with the roads, unlike myself. I exited Interstate 70, turned left to cross the highway, and made my way into West Vail. I noticed something strange ahead of me – a... roundabout. Hmmm. What ever do I do here? You, always patient and never curse, said nothing just motioned 'onward'. I did not yield, despite signs. I pulled all the way into the inner lane immediately. The car behind me laid on his horn. I slammed on the breaks, horrified, then swerved into the right lane to make my exit, without a turn signal. My heart slamming, I looked at you in panic. You gave me a funny look – wide-eyed, slight fear, kind of embarrassed to be seen with me, and humor. You said warmly, "Well sweetheart, the good news is, you made every possible roundabout mistake all at once right there, so you can only get better!" I have gotten better. But every time I drive into one for the rest of my life, I will remember that incident.

After moving to Colorado a year ago this week, I got a new car. I'd sold my house in Austin for a good profit and had recently gotten my dream job as the Creative Director of my favorite magazine. I'd had my 2000 Honda CRV since I was in college and had bought it from my parents for $1. So when I was car shopping in Boulder last year, it was essentially the first time for me to choose a car – and I was pysched. I chose a luxury car with more bells and whistles than I knew how to contend with. On one of our first drives together in my new car, you sat down and started fiddling with the moonroof. "Wow, this is so big! Open it," you requested. I started pushing buttons and turning dials – a sunglass case ejected from the ceiling and the overhead lights came on – no moonroof action. You laughed at my tactic and gracefully pushed one button and it opened. Later in that drive, you asked if I knew how to set the clock – it was a few minutes fast. I did not and started pushing buttons all over the console – no clock action. You laughed again and then quickly figured it. We sat in silence for a few minutes as I drove, feeling slightly incompetent. "Do you want to know what I have figured out though?" I asked. "What's that?" you responded. I turned up the music to show you. "I learned how to turn the bass ALL THE WAY UP," I answered, bass pounding. You cracked up and with only a hint of an eye roll answered, "Priorities."

You always thought I'd be interested in how cars work. I am not. I know I like a nice and comfortable one, but I couldn't be less interested in how they move. "There are so many more interesting things I'd rather learn," I'd tell you when you started talking about pistons. "Let's talk about another kind of piston..." I'd joke as you tried to explain. I can add gas and oil. I recently learned how to add windshield wiper fluid. I now know how to open the moonroof. The bass and treble are fantastically unbalanced. And I can read the manual when my bossy car tells me it needs something. So, I am basically a mechanic. I know everything I need to know. Although you continued to try to sneak car talk into conversation every so often, "It's really interesting! There's explosions!" you'd insist, tempting me with fire. It got to the point where we had a running joke about it. You would start to explain something about an intake valve and a cylinder and I'd plug my ears and look at you and say, "MAGIC! Cars go cause of MAGIC!" And that was it. Every time we decided we didn't need to know how something operated, we would blame it on magic.

As I drove my magically propelled Audi across the midwest today, I listened to your iPod – or T-Pod as you have it named. I shuffled through your ten-thousand plus songs. At one point, Patrick Lee came on. It took me back to the first time we both heard Patrick Lee. We were on our way home from Red Rocks in the back of a limo. It was my first Red Rocks show and we hadn't been dating very long – so you were still trying to impress me. (Which you didn't need to do, because you impressed me more and more every day of our time together.) But, in order to transport a good group of friends conveniently to and from the Umphrey's McGee show and avoid drunk hippies from being on the road – we all climbed into the back of the limo. About halfway home, the limo got quiet. Everyone was getting tired and coming down from the thrill of the show. As the conversation died down, we noticed the music. It was the absolute perfect melody for the moment – down-tempo electronica that still sounded man-made and had layered peaks and valleys. "Who IS this," you asked. Nate, who was manning the music, responded, "Patrick Lee."

Patrick Lee's Pacific Soul album became a staple for us from that point forward. At the end of the night, we would cuddle up downstairs on a Love Sac in the puddle room, let Kira out, and groove to Patrick Lee. You would explain certain dynamics in the music. I knew I liked it a lot, but you would help explain why. Some days we would listen to that album while driving through the mountains or maybe when we drove up to get the mail. I played it in my yoga classes a lot – the perfect groove for a flow through a vinyasa. It's the kind of music that made me feel as though I was lying on my back in a grassy meadow, with sunlight on my face, wind in my hair, your hand in mine, and warm love filling my being.

So when I was in the car today and Patrick Lee's 'Southern Cars' came on, I took a deep nostalgic breath. I let it play. As the cheerful rhythm played, I noticed how ugly it was outside. I noticed how the slushy snow looked dirty and haphazard. I noticed how the only trees that had leaves were sharp needles on conifers. I realized everything on the horizon was some shade of grey – even the dead grass along the side of the highway seemed monochromatic. The song continued to play the same melody that I'd heard so many times before during joyful moments – but this time it was different. It was as though the music was now a cruel joke, a parody. "Remember how happy this used to make you?" The music seemed to whisper taunts through a sleazy Cheshire-Cat grin and pointed eyes. I changed the song as I let my tears fall.

My soundtrack is changing. I used to tell you that I thought that The XX song 'Intro' would be my soundtrack. I'd describe how I wanted that song to automatically play from the heavens as I walked into a room. I thought it was the perfect balance of mystery, intelligence, and cool. The song no longer fits. Now, it's Pink Martini's version of 'Que Sera Sera' – haunting, sad, and full of minor chord progressions. Ominously, you always liked the song. I thought it was chilling. I still do.

Our soundtrack was more funky.

We had come back to our tent a bit early after a String Cheese show at Horning's Hideout. We were laying on our blowup mattress relaxing. We could hear people slowly making their way back into Land's End camp - but we stayed quiet, snuggled, and closed our eyes. We needed a breather. We could hear Nate setting up his DJ gear near our tent. When he turned on the speakers, the most ridiculous trumpet melody we ever had heard began to play. We both busted out laughing, breaking the silence in unison. "Yes! I love that someone actually makes this kind of music," you said. "Yes! It's awesome! And that N8tron actually mixes with it," I said. And that was how a silly remix of Bert Kaempfert's 'Africaan Beat' came the closest thing we had to a song. We would play it at the house and dance the most dorky dance around the house together. If one of us were ever in a bad mood, we could snap out of it by playing that song. We always requested Nate to play it, even when it was totally inappropriate for the setting. It made us laugh. It made us dance.

It's hard to imagine hearing playful music without a visceral rawness consuming my chest. Its hard to remember our time clearly, without my own take or exaggeration. For now I have to settle for static - and look forward to the bursts of colorful and clear memories that peek through from time to time.

Ashes to ashes

I'm writing from somewhere in the middle of Iowa. I'm driving across the country, back to our hometown, with Kira and my mom. I'm escaping to Ohio… said no one ever.

Unfortunately no matter where I run to, there is no escape from this reality. Wherever I am, wherever I go – I know that you are no longer physically here. Not two seconds go by without me thinking about your absence. Distraction from reality is even more painful then actuality, so I just let myself sit in the truth and bask in the torture of this loss.

Avoidance has never been a route I've turned to, so it's not instinctual for me to turn there now. Instead I've faced life full-on, sometimes too full-on. When we were falling in love, it was with fervor and enthusiasm. I did not hold back. I fell in love – completely, hopelessly, and absolutely – with your being and your soul. And now, in grief, I wear those same shoes. I wholeheartedly stand in the fire of this bottomless, raw despair, full-on.

Although, maybe there was slight avoidance when it came to picking up your ashes. It took me until yesterday to get them – the last possible day before heading home to Ohio. I sat with guilt as I put off going to the mortuary. Guilt and I know each other quite well. You used to tell me that guilt is anger turned inwards. I have a hard time getting angry at others but it's a cinch to put on myself. So on Monday, guilt and I drove to the mortuary to get your remains.

It was at that same mortuary where one month ago, I sat alone with your body for an hour before your memorial. I had to see you again. I couldn't let that horrible night in the emergency room be the last time I saw you – tubes in your mouth, failed EKG patches stuck all over your chest, and your body slumped lifelessly and gracelessly on a metal bed, my own unrecognizable screams echoing so loudly through the halls – that couldn't be the last time I saw you. So I asked your family if before your cremation, I could see you again. I needed to see you at peace. Thankfully, they obliged.

When I saw you that day in the mortuary last month, it wasn't you any more. Your spirit was gone. The soul I love so fucking much had escaped from the confines of your gorgeous, yet broken body. But, that morning, I chose to believe that your soul was nearby – maybe floating around that dull, cold room listening to me choke out my final words to your body. You were so cold when I touched you. Your skin didn't have the same spring that it did when you were alive. I touched all the hairs on your face, they seemed to have grown a bit and I wondered how that had happened, or if it was my imagination. I thought about how you'd probably want a clean shave. I felt your chest where they'd opened you up for your autopsy – the looming question mark that still remains – they had stapled you closed. They had you in a gown. I reached down to the hem near your thighs and pulled it up, just so I could see all of your manliness, one last time. I overheard your voice in my head telling me how inappropriate I was being. I didn't care. Though it's your spirit I love most, your physical body made you human. It made you capable of audible communication, tangible pleasure, and palpable interaction. It made you beautiful, in reality, not just essence.

So yesterday, I arrived at the mortuary to get what was left of you, "I'm here to pick up my fiance, David Welles." Those words actually came out of my mouth. He's now ashes. He's been divided into three urns. He was beautiful, but now he's only dust. How is this happening to me? How the fuck is this happening to me? The man working there (the man with the most depressing job in the universe) asked me if he should glue the lids down. Am I seriously having this conversation? I noticed the three lids teetering unstably on the top of the urns. "Wow, those are really full," I said. "Uh, yeah... there was... a lot of... him," he responded. I imagined him sweeping out the extra ashes that wouldn't fit in the urns. I wondered what they did with the rest of you. Had they swept you into a dustpan with some other people and thrown you in a garbage? Flushed you down the toilet like a dead goldfish? I closed my eyes tightly as if that would help my mind from wandering. I told him to glue two out of the three lids down. I needed mine open. I needed to see you.

When I got home, I took my urn into our bedroom. I sat it on the dresser below my painting that says 'Buy Less. Fuck More.' and next to the harmonium that you bought my for my birthday and I still haven't learned how to make a sound on. I stared at your urn and stroked the marble, noticing how beautiful the container was. I thought about how you would approve of it. And then I thought about what it was I was thinking about and fell on the floor in a ball of tears.

I opened my urn. They had you in a plastic bag. You hate plastic bags. I untied it and studied what was left of your body. You are grey. I had imagined that your ashes would be all the colors of the rainbow and peppered with glitter, a magical pixie dust. But you are grey – the color you hated. I noticed pieces of your bones. I wondered if the staples from your chest were in there somewhere. I wondered what parts of you I got in my third of you. I dipped my hand in your dust. I looked at it and rubbed my fingers together like some fucked-up mudra. I smelled my fingers. They smelled like nothing. I tasted my fingers. They tasted like nothing. I knew it wasn't really you in there. But that didn't stop the pain, it only intensified it.

So that was my day – wake up, attempt to eat breakfast but settle for coffee instead, cry through a therapy session, pick up my your ashes, oh yeah, then a quick oil change while I left you in the front seat, in a box, head home, taste your ashes, cry through yoga while my teacher told me to clear my mind and focus on my breath. Do you have any idea how heavy my mind is right now? He told us the breath was our greatest gift to the body. I thought about how deep your breath used to be, how alive, how rich each inhale and exhale was when you used to practice yoga next to me. I used to try to match your long breaths and joked with you that I might suffocate while doing it. I thought about your last breaths, how faint they were. Then I remembered I wasn't supposed to be thinking, just breathing. And I wondered if you were doing the opposite – not breathing, but still thinking. And I hoped it was the case. This is what my life has become.

So here I sit, at a roadside hotel in Iowa, on my way to our hometown for Thanksgiving. I will sit in your seat at your family's table and we will try to come up with things to be thankful for – and we will. I will eat pie. I'll visit friends and family who stare at me with pity and whisper behind my back, "Did you hear what happened to her?" I will drive by the school we both went to. I will sleep in the bed that I slept in as a child and that just months ago you held me in after my Grandmother died. I will try to hold joy in my heart for the blessings I have. But, I will definitely not escape.

Dream Realm

Over the past month, many people have reached out to me regarding dreams you've appeared in. There have also been countless other signs - particularly through nature, animals, children, and instinct that have nearly proven that you're still around. Although that's a BIG nearly, because proof will never actually exist until we meet again someday. Dreams, however, were of supreme importance to you in your waking life. You felt they carried much more weight than just the imagination having a wander while the eyes had a rest. My friend Kris told me this weekend, "Sami, you can still spend 1/3 of your life with Ted, because that's about how much of your life you'll spend asleep – and he can always appear in your dreams." I like that.

You haven't been in my dreams that much yet, or at least from what I remember. Amazingly though, I have slept soundly nearly since day one of this tragedy, so maybe you are there. Maybe you're helping me sleep and just keeping the stories and adventures of our dreams in the unconscious. But I ask you nightly, before I go to sleep, when I kneel and do my gratitude and my prayers, that you come to me in my slumber – that you hold me while my body rests – that you be nearby me while my mind softens away from the claustrophobia of this tragedy and takes time to meditate – that I get to see your face, touch your skin, see the creases on your face when you smile, hear your gentle voice, and watch your eyes dance with love. I will hope for that every day for the rest of my life.

And while you may not have come to me quite that often yet – you did once a few weeks back, and it was worth the wait. But you've come to many others, and some of them have been willing to share with me.

You came to your friend Frenchy last week in a very vivid vision. You spoke in a kitchen, much like ours. He said it was so real that he could smell your smell and hear your breath traveling down your nostrils. He said the colors were incredibly intense. He knew you were dead in the dream, as did you. You hugged Frenchy and you both cried. You told Frenchy to ask you some quick questions. "Are you ok? What is it like? Is there a God? Have you seen Sarah?" You told him you are OK and it's kinda crazy there. You said that there are many people there to meet, that everyone is very nice, and happy to help. In terms of God, you paused, and then said there's a much higher force than anyone knows that's overseeing everything. You said you haven't seen Sarah yet, but everyone knows you're looking for her. You told him that as you died, you were peeling back layers of light and kept going in deeper. Then Frenchy rubbed his eyes and returned back to his original dream, but throughout the rest of his dreams he heard your voice whispering, "Don't forget! Write it down."

You appeared to your cousin Brooke in a dream. She was working in the mountains and turned around to say goodbye to friends and you were there. Again, you were full of life. She could feel your skin. She asked you if you had enjoyed the memorial and said how cool it had been that the String Cheese Incident guys had come to play in your honor. You responded warmly. You talked to her in a way that lacked human attachment and stories – you beamed with peace. Then, you showed her videos of some of the friends you'd met in the place where you reside now. Some of them were children, others were celebrities. You also told her you had learned how to appear to loved ones and friends on Earth in solid form.

You appeared to your Aunt Ginny in a vision just days after your death. She was in the exact same scenario as the tragic night you died. The three of us, her, Kevin, and myself were with your body in the hospital. She on one side of the gurney, Kevin on the other, and me next to your body, on the bed, cradling you and sobbing. She felt a presence enter the room behind her. She was irritated and thought it was the coroner who had kept barging in and disrupting our last moments with your body. It wasn't. It was you. You were enormous and filled up the entire room, literally by appearing as a giant, and figuratively with your peaceful energy. You held us in a warm embrace. You told her, "I am OK. Now is when Sami's journey really starts."

You came to my friend Claire. A dear girl friend with whom I'd fallen out of touch with. You had only met her a couple times in life and you unfortunately didn't get to know one another very well. Although you did know I was very sad that our friendship wasn't as strong lately. In her dream, when you appeared, she got upset with you. She yelled at you for taking me away from my home and friends in Texas. She was upset that you would leave me in so much pain. You heard her out, and then responded with love. You said, "I understand how you feel and I don't blame you. I never meant to bring Sami any pain. Please believe me when I say that Sami is exactly where she needs to be. All of this is part of her journey and destiny."

You came to another more distant friend, Lyndsey. She had periled for months with a newborn daughter on the brink of death. Though you never met the baby, you identified with her tragedy because of your compassionate heart and also the devastation you dealt with after your sister's loss of her baby girl, Jane. Lyndsey's infant daughter who had made a miraculous recovery, Eden, played with an iPad for her first time ever this week. As soon as the toy was in her mitts, she pulled up your contact information on the device. In Lyndsey's dream you came to her at a party. No one could see you except for her. You hugged one another and she expressed her condolences for your death. "I'm still here. No one can see me, but I'm still here," you said. And then you said, "Give that daughter of yours a squeeze for me."

These are only a few dreams. I've had other people reach out to me with beautiful connections as well. And I have a feeling this entry may open up the doors to more, which I welcome with open arms.

In your life, you were passionate about dreams. You would journal them nearly daily. One of the first things you'd say to me each day was, "Did you have any dreams last night?" You always encouraged me to write them down, teaching me the appropriate way to do so. You loved to analyze dreams, and had done a lot of work with your therapist and independently learning about different methods. It makes complete sense to me that you would choose to appear through the dream realm from your place in the afterlife.

I find it beautiful that through appearing in dreams, you're still creating connections. You're answering questions for people who have doubts. You're telling secrets about mortality and reassuring loved ones about your place in the afterlife. You are letting us know that you're around – and that this tragic path may actually be the right one. You're bringing old friends back together and fostering new relationships. You're holding space for children. You're giving us all hope. And you're tackling it through our subconscious.

Please continue to appear in dreams, my love. Appear to your family, to your loved ones, and hopefully, if you have time, you can still spend a third of my life, the time when I'm asleep, with me. And during that time, we won't be held back by the constraints of this earthly realm. We will be able to fly and skip around the Universe together. We will be able to stretch time and expand our consciousness beyond humanity's dynamics. We will be able to love, to create, to connect, and to share. We will make magic. And until the day arrives when I join you wherever you exist now, I'll continue to look for you in sleep.

You are the music

Last night I went to the 1-up for Roosevelt Collier's Colorado Get Down ensemble's show. I hope you were there with me because I know you would have loved the raw, funky show they threw down. It was exactly the type of music that made you move.

Tons of your friends were there. There was so much love and many two-armed hugs. And we all danced, because funk makes people happy, no matter how sad things are. Because even when people die, their music lives on.

I closed my eyes a lot last night while listening to the show. I imagined that you were standing to my left. I imagined that our arms gently brushed against one another as we danced. I could feel your body. I saw you shaking your hips to the beat. I imagined the smooth smile on your face, stoked on the music. There were so many times when a question or comment would arise in my mind and I would look over to my left to tell you. You weren't there when I opened my eyes.

There was also another part of the show that was really important. The Drunken Hearts were the opening act – your band. Well, kind of.

In the days leading up to your death, you and The Drunken Hearts had decided to part ways. The news was very fresh and you were heartbroken. Since you died very suddenly after the break up with the band, not many people knew about it. In fact, to many, you went to your grave still as the drummer in the band. But you, me, the band, and people close to you knew that was not the case. That night, we took a long walk. I asked if you felt hopeless. You said you did not. You said you felt like you lost a huge part of your identity. But you knew that you would rebuild. You knew this left space for something new. You felt empty, but not hopeless. I understand now too, how emptiness feels.

There were a lot of emotions in those few days for you obviously, and for me as well. I had gotten accustomed to rehearsals in the house every week. Often we would make dinner together for the whole band. Upon moving to Boulder, I spent a lot of the time at home, since I work from the house. I didn't have much time to make a ton of friends. But I did have time to get to know the guys in the band. And though I never told them, I fell in love with each guy in the band. I told you often that I had never had so many wonderful guy friends before. I knew I could call any of them if I ever needed something. I trusted them all. So your departure from The Drunken Hearts was the beginning of a break up for us all, in some ways. There was a dark path ahead. Though I wish more than anything that you were still here, I'm relieved that you didn't have to walk that path.

The reason I write about this today is NOT to bring up demons. It's not to 'out' the band. Your death had absolutely nothing to do with you parting ways with the Hearts – it simply was a dark shadow in the days that turned out to be your last.

Going to the show last night was incredibly challenging for me, but it was also cathartic. Because, Teddy, who you were in life was not dependent upon your position in the band. And while you may have felt empty due to your breakup with them, you went out of this world a lone man – an individual – which is a beautiful thing.

Your identity, to those who love you, had nothing to do with your career. And I know that if you were still here today, you would have recovered, strengthened, and found new passion in another project. I also know that your relationship with the members of the Hearts, in time, would also mend – your friendship and love would remain. Your bond with those guys was more important than business and you were not one to hold a grudge. And while you may have had angst, disappointment, and confusion in your final days – your legacy is not defined by the last three days of your life.

Some people who knew about this falling out questioned my attending the show last night. (And I don't mean with judgement, simply a question.) And the truth is, so did I! But then, I think about you. What would you want? And I also thought about me. What do I need?

You would want me to be surrounded by love. You would want me to be surrounded by music. The Drunken Hearts are what I know, they are familiar. I know every song. I know the dynamics of the sound, the epic solos, the rough spots, who needs to be turned up and who needs to be turned down, every place where you would hit the double bass, where I liked to stand in the crowd, and the girls I stood with. And that's where I needed to be last night. Standing with them, still. Because, despite the breakup, I need The Drunken Hearts. I need them more than ever. And I think they might need me too. Though, really, we all need you.

When I looked at the stage last night and saw a different drummer, it actually made things a bit easier for me. Because I knew, that even if you were still alive, you would not be sitting behind that kit at that show. The new drummer had nothing to do with your death – and that took some of the pain away. And when I looked on stage and into the eyes of the guys I love – I saw men struggling. As Andrew said last night to the crowd, "We're all just trying to figure out how to hold it together". It's true, none of us know quite how to manage without you. We're just doing the best we can and we're all thinking of you along the way.

You were the music, Ted. You didn't need to have a stick in hand or your foot on a pedal to make music – it was all around you because it was in you. Your words were the lyrics. Your thoughts were the cadence. Your movement was the rhythm. Your laugh was the tempo. Your loved ones were the beat. In your honor, my love, the music you made continues. We will never let your music die.

What I know and what I don't know.

I can officially, without a drop of doubt in my mind, now say that the worst month of my life is behind me. You have been gone a month. It's been a month since we talked. It's been a month since we looked into each others eyes. It's been a month since we said "I love you". It's been a month since we kissed. And like all measures of time, it's one I can't take back.

Time is an interesting concept. One that I don't really even understand anymore, to be honest. I used to think we 'had time on our side'. That was not the case. Time robbed us. Or maybe something else robbed time. An hour seems long when you want it to be short. When you want an hour to last forever, it rushes by. Certain years of my life seem to have lasted ages, when others I had hardly remember because they whisked by. It seems like forever since I last saw you. But then it also seems like just a moment ago. I don't know what time is. I know you didn't either. We used to talk about quantum physics and agree, there was a lot more to space and time than humanity could calculate.

I remember our last kiss. It was at 8:20 pm on Friday, October 24th (2014). It was gentle and loving. We looked into each others eyes. It wasn't rushed. There is no way we could have ever known that was to be our last kiss, that you would take your last breath just five hours later. But considering it was, I have no regrets about that kiss. It was perfect.

I also remember our first kiss. It was on Sunday, January 27th 2013 at about 2 am. You said, "Can I kiss you now!?" It was as if you'd been waiting forever to do so. Maybe you had. Maybe you'd been waiting since our last lifetime together was cut short. No one knows when their first kiss will happen either. One may hope – or maybe it comes out of the blue. Eagerness and lust filling you up. Excitement standing in line with breath mints, chapstick, and impatience. Our first kiss was perfect.

I imagined our kiss on the altar thousands of times. The one that would happen after we got to say "I do". I imagined it as a collage of all the best romance movie kisses – expect better. It would be fueled with true love, excitement, passion, hope, destiny, and faith. It was going to be perfect. It still will be, someday, whatever that means.

What I never once imagined was that it wouldn't happen. I was so sure... wasn't I? Why hadn't I ever considered things could have taken a dark turn, as they did? Had I stuffed premonitions and ominous occurrences aside, and just assumed, with false hope, that we would get what we so thought we deserved – real happiness? Isn't that what the point of life is? Love? Did life deliver us what we deserved? Was our twenty months of true connection and love what life had in store for us? Did we get to squeeze as much love as most beings have in seventy years into that short time? I will never know.

There's not a lot of things I know right now. I am confused about this thing we call time. I am up in the air about the specifics of afterlife. I'm trying to decide if there's a difference between fate, destiny, and happenstance. I am hopeful, but not one-hundred-percent sure that you are watching over me. I'm not sure what to gather from the visions, the mediums, and the signs that have been appearing everywhere. I don't know where you are, I hope it's not just in dust and ashes inside of a cold urn. I don't know why you died. I don't know if there is anything I could have done. I don't know if this is a part of a master plan. I don't know what our children would have looked like, if they would have been blonde or brunette, like we often thought about. I don't know if I will ever be a mother. I don't know if we only have one soul mate. I don't know if I will ever love again. I don't know if you will come back as my child, like you told me you would. I don't know how I'm still standing. I don't know how the hair is still growing on my legs and how my cycle continues to flow, when my heart feels like it has stopped, though I can hear it beat.... beat... beat. I don't know what's next.

But, there's a few things I do know.

"I know that I am glad we had this time together. I am glad we shared our love, even though time cut it short. I also know that I still have all the love. It didn't go anywhere. In fact, it still grows. As the grief grows, the love grows. I have all this love, you gave it to me, and that is your gift to me. That is the biggest gift anyone could receive. Because now I know love, I own love, and I have your love inside of me. And I can share it, like you did. I know that my life will never be the same. I will be a new kind of woman. I will be a new kind of teacher. I will be a new kind of lover. I will be you, in some ways. I KNOW that you are inside of me – not in all the ways I want (giggity) – but you are here. I know that I would not be able to wake up, get out of bed, carry on a conversation, take care of myself, eat, even laugh, for god's sake, without you being in me. I know you are carrying me. In what way that is, I do not know at all, and I never will – but I know you are and that you always will be."

I love you.

Conscious Living

Today as I sat down for lunch at a restaurant in Boulder, I read a quote on the wall saying, "This Earth does not belong to us. We belong to this Earth." Though you may not reside on this planet in the flesh any longer, you nourished it while you were here – as though you were a respectful guest being mindful of someone's home.

On one of your first trips to Austin, we were in my kitchen making a snack. You asked if I had a napkin. I snagged a couple paper towels off the roll and handed them to you. You, without a word, gently ripped each paper towel in half, then you took one half, and ripped that in half – leaving a quarter of a paper towel for yourself. You sat the other remnants of towel back near the roll and joined me at the table. "Why did you do that?" I asked, thoughtlessly. "I just don't need a whole one, no sense in wasting," you said.

I thought of all the times I'd unrolled a clump of paper towels, even the ones claiming to be the most absorbent, just to wipe a spill of water off the counter. I thought of the napkins I'd grabbed from a restaurant, by the handfuls, and then carelessly trashed later when they went unused. I thought of the multitudes of ketchup packets I had never opened and then tossed into the garbage. I thought of so much waste I had created – stomping around this Earth two Carbon footprints at a time. And then I saw, you – thoughtful, conscious – taking the time to consider what you needed and how you could avoid waste.

When I got to your home in Boulder, first as a visitor and then eventually as a resident, I joined you in using cloth napkins at every meal. They weren't even just cloth napkins, they were squares of cotton that your ex-girlfriend had sewn from remnants, as to not waste unused fabric. They were sewn haphazardly and by no means a trendy item – but for day-to-day lunch and dinner, they were perfect. (And still are perfect.) My use of paper towels has dwindled down to a quarter here, a quarter there. When I wipe the counters, I use a cloth, never a paper product. I, learning from you, grab just a couple napkins when getting takeout, and then the ones that are unused, get put in the console of my car or in my purse for when the next need arises. And if it hadn't been for you, my love, I would still be piling paper into the trash.

Fast forward six months to when you and I arrived in Black Rock City for Burning Man. I was ready. My luggage overflowed with my Playa necessities: tutus, feathers, glitter, pasties, fishnets, steampunk garb, panties, and five pairs of boots. You also brought some necessities: an RV, EL-wire, headlamps, bikes, an electric scooter, jugs of water, first aid kits, camelbacks, water bottles, batteries, electrolytes, duct tape, oh... and food. They says Burning Man makes or breaks a relationship. Our time on the Playa made us closer than I've ever felt possible with another human. And outside of our duo, Burning Man let me see people from a whole new perspective: intrinsically GOOD. Every soul we met on the Playa was friendly and every soul we met on the Playa was conscious – they simply cared about the land, the values of the event and city, and the Earth.

In Burning-Man-speak, any trash is referred to as MOOP, or 'matter out of place'. As a part of the duty as a citizen of Black Rock City, they ask you to pick up MOOP when you see it laying around. Whether its a stray sequin, a tossed cup, or a pile of shit in Deep Playa, you take responsibility for it as if it were your own and aid to dispose of it properly. Ted, you did your due diligence. To this day, when I find any of your Playa gear, every pocket is stuffed with MOOP you cleaned up. I never once heard you bitch about other peoples trash. I never once saw an ounce of irritation as you stopped the scooter to dispose of an array of other Burners' tossed items. You simply did it because you were a conscious and kind man.

You are an example to the other sixty-five thousand citizens of BRC because you embody the elements that the city strives to set in place. You arrived to the city with care and packed-in what you thought necessary (and also not too much). You helped the camp organize our site and contributed to the art projects installed. You danced your face off, partied till sunrise, and lived large. You picked up other people's shit all along the way. You visited art, you climbed, you admired, you watched, and most importantly, you participated. You loved – you loved me, you loved your camp mates, and you loved every person you met along the way. You, in the midst of a city of over-stimulation, intoxication, and intensity – allowed yourself (and me) to stop, look around, be grateful, and stay conscious.

When I moved to Boulder we settled into a beautiful life together in this gorgeous home. A home you purchased because you wanted to be surrounded by nature. A home that allowed us to be somewhat off-the-grid – solar panels allowed us to sell electricity back to the city, well-water let us be mindful about quality and consumption, acreage allowed us privacy and interaction with wilderness, and the view allowed us intensely of sublime beauty. Again, my Ted, you were living as one with this Earth, in partnership. What you took, you paid back.

When we would get our weekly sushi delivery, you always remembered to tell the delivery man not to bring chopsticks and soy packets – we didn't need them. The average person, myself included, could easily forget that thoughtful action. When we bought food, you insisted on shopping locally – and beyond that, you wanted to purchase food and products that came from conscious companies. You read many articles on whether farm or wild fish was more humane, wanting to know all sides of the story and then make up your mind for yourself, and not because of hearsay. When we went to the store, you always remembered your bags. In fact, you also always remembered to put bags in my car too, so I would also have them.

When it came time to take out the recycling, my love, you labored over separating the glass from the plastic. You took the caps off of each glass bottle and disposed of them individually and properly. You stayed current on which clam shell containers were recyclable – lettuce containers: yes, but berry containers: no. When your band left after weekly Tuesday rehearsals, you went through the trash to make sure all of their beer cans were thrown away in the proper bin, and then, you woke up early to take out the trash and recycling. You made sure the bags were tied. You made sure the bags were secure in the trash cans. You made sure you didn't take them out too early, so animals would get to them first. And you never once asked Kevin or I to do it, until we started insisting.

And while, when I moved in with you, I finally had to give a firm "NO!" to single-ply recycled toilet paper, you gently helped me through the learning curve of living consciously. I thought I had been kind to the environment before I met you, but I realized the huge gap. Tossing my garbage into the one of the eight proper receptacles (?) at Whole Foods and attempting to distinguish trash from recycling is not all I can do. Because of you, I live with more regard for reduction of waste, consumption, and consideration for Earth, because we belong to it – it does not belong to us.

Now you've risen from this Earth into something larger. Just a few days ago, you came to your best friend Frenchy in a vision. You told him to ask you some questions. He, knowing you were dead, asked you "Is there a God?" You told him, with a quiet smile, "There is a a higher power larger than anything imaginable taking care of everything." I have no doubt you are right. And while there may be something holistically all-encompassing beyond this Earthly realm, while I am here on this planet, I will take care of it with consciousness and selflessness, as you strove to do everyday. I will not rely on others. I will not rely on something grander to take care of my shit. I will be responsible: for me, for the citizens of the world, for the Earth, and for you.

Lonely (Guest Blog by Kevin Watson)

By Kevin Watson (Teddy's Roommate & Great Friend)


People keep asking me “How are you?”  I usually respond with, “I’m hanging in” or  “Just taking it one breath at a time” or “I’m OK.” Most of those answers are true except one.

I’m not ok.

To be blunt, the best way to describe me is lonely. I’m really fucking lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have people that love me and I have those people around me in abundance! So many amazing people have reached out in support. Many still check in regularly. And it’s been a blessing to be able to go through this grief with so many people who knew Ted and the light he beamed out constantly. We can share in what we miss. It’s not that I feel alone. I’m lonely.

Truth is, I was feeling lonely before Ted died.  For whatever reason I’ve chosen that path in more ways than is obvious. I’ve never been in a relationship longer than 6 months. Why? Take your pick: my father’s death, high (irrational/quality) standards, being cheated on, self-sabatoge due to fear of commitment? I’d say it’s a combo of all these things but the one that keeps coming back to me, is having trouble willing to trust someone to completely love me. All of me. The shit. The shine. All of it. Or maybe that’s to say there’s a fear that no one actually could. Regardless of the reason, I’ve yet to find a lover that could be my best friend as well. Understand that I don’t regret my philosophy or course of action when it comes to such partnership. I chose that route for good reasons and I’m proud to say that I’ve never stayed with someone just to keep from being by myself. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely.

I’ve also chosen solitude in other endeavors as well. My passion for live music was fostered by going to bars and checking out music on my own. I basically flew solo at my first few music festivals, too, partly because I didn’t want to be slowed down by a group of friends but largely because my group of friends at the time weren’t into the music I like. I didn’t want to ask people to go do something they didn’t love just to keep me from being lonely. I remember very vividly the time I had the realization that I needed to be happy with who I was and I shouldn’t rely on others to make me feel that way. I guess these endeavors were some sort of exercise in those regards.

I still go eat dinner by myself, exercise by myself, and I definitely still go see music by myself. Fortunately, now I usually see plenty of friends from the scene. And while I genuinely call them “friends”, I know that there are different levels of friendship. The energy I get from their hugs and smiles and cheers are a big part of why I love live music. It’s not just the music, it’s the community. That being said, how many of those people truly know me? How many people knew that on top of Ted’s death, my nephew Bennett is sick? Or that I even have a nephew? Unfortunately, the music biz is filled with a lot of amazing people who don’t truly know you that well and vice versa.

And I have a beautiful, loving, supportive family back home in Oklahoma. We even have some ‘adopted’ families that are amazing as well. Sure, they know me and love me in ways that only family can. I’m so blessed to have a diverse family that loves each other unconditionally.  But does that  mean they really understand my conditions?  Do I feel like any of them truly know what my life is like or understand who I am or why I act the way I do? I have to say no. I also understand that this is normal for most families. Does that make me less lonely? No.

These are just a few things that have left me feeling lonely on and off for years. Right now, though, I’m feeling waves of the most harrowing loneliness I may have ever known. Even worse than when my father died? Yes. Even worse than my suicidal depression of my teens? Yes. Why? Because I feel like at this point in my life, Ted not only UNDERSTOOD me and my character flaws and how I think and (over)analyze, and what makes me tick more than anyone else, HE LOVED ME FOR IT ALL! I can honestly say that the closest thing I’ve known to being both understood and accepted is gone. And it makes me fucking lonely.

This year I went to Burning Man for the first time. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a number of years. Ted had really pushed for me to go for a couple of years now. In 2013 I had planned on going so far as to have purchased a ticket. For a number of reasons it fell through. Teddy would always say, “The thing about going to Burning Man is you have to MAKE it happen! You can’t just think it will fall into place. You have to go do it.” Well, finally after a year of planning and saving, I made it happen. I didn’t camp with Ted’s crew for a few reasons, the biggest being that I would only know Ted and Sami and a couple others in a pretty large camp. I didn’t want to be Ted and Sami’s 3rd wheel the whole time, so I joined up with some other friends to form a small independent camp. I somehow didn’t realize though, that my core camp would consist of myself and 4 other couples. I went from 3rd wheel to 9th wheel! Ha!  Don’t get me wrong, the people at my camp were and are outrageously amazing people and I made some great memories with them! But still everyone else had a wingman. I again was solo. And at first I was fine with it, as usual. I explored the vast desert city on my own, getting the lay of the land, finding some great adventures and meeting some interesting folks.  By the third day though, all I wanted was to go find my roommates!!! And find them I did. Night after night.

A few different mantras or lessons just kept hammering away at me while I was there. One big one was, “Why would you choose to do these things on your own when you could share the experiences with others? Not to mention people you love!?” Hanging out with Ted and Sami and our great friend Nate didn’t just feel comfortable, it felt right. It was without insecurity or fear of judgment. There was no other place I would have rather been. (I also never felt like a 3rd wheel.) And while Sami and Nate are amazing friends, that confidence and comfort in those moments was a direct result of Ted’s friendship. It was a beautiful feeling. It felt like home.

Teddy had worked intently for a while on making me feel ‘at home’. I guess you could say we both worked on it together, but he insisted on it. I remember when we were preparing for my birthday in 2012. I had only lived in the house for around 4 months. I was nervous at first to ask Ted if I could have a large birthday dinner and then a party at the house. I never wanted to intrude on his world. Ted being Ted said, “A party!? Of course!!!” He didn’t know the majority of the people that would be attending yet he was happy to have them here. I remember inviting people and saying, “So we’re gonna have my birthday dinner up at Ted’s house then we’re gonna open it up to a big invite to whoever wants to come party. Do you have directions to Ted’s?” I can’t remember exactly how it came up. I think Ted heard me say something similar on the phone. I remember he cracked up about it though! “Why don’t you just tell everyone the party is at your house?”, he said with his sarcastic exaggerated tone. “I mean, this is your house isn’t it?” I replied saying that it wasn’t really my house, that he owned it. He insisted that I had ‘ownership’ in the house based on my actions: I made payments on the house (rent) and I took care of it like my own with maintenance and respect, so why would I not call it my house! It took me a long time to make the change from calling it ‘Ted’s house’ and even after everything I still have trouble calling it mine. I usually just refer to it as ‘the house’ or ‘our house’.

I came back from Burning Man feeling more at home than ever with Ted and Sami. There was an acceptance and appreciation for each other that reached farther than ever before. I came back feeling more comfortable in my own skin and in tune with who I am than I have in years. I remember joking with Ted about taking pride in the kind of men we are. “You are I gentle, compassionate, sensitive men! And if people have problems with it they can fuck off!!!” So gentle. So compassionate. Ha! Someone had recently asked me if I would ever consider moving to Denver. I told them that I think the only way I’d move out of ‘the house’ was when Sami and Ted got married and were starting a family. (Ted had told me to see this as my home until then, and had joked saying, “Who knows? Maybe we’ll need Uncle Kevin around then!”) I replied to my friend’s question that there obviously was a physical luxury that the house provided, but that’s just stuff.  The biggest reason that I wouldn’t ever want to leave was the emotional and personal comfort that I found in my roommates. Honest communication. Understanding. Compassion. Acceptance. LOVE!!! Why would I ever go anywhere else!?

It’s beyond unfortunate why Sami and I are closer than ever before yet I’m so blessed by our friendship. I don’t know how I would be dealing with this without her. That being said, this home is shattered. Ted was her rock in a way I could never know! I guess I never really completely understood how much he was a rock for me. I feel like I never really took his friendship for granted; I have no regrets with how our friendship grew or where we were in it when he died. But that old cliché keeps popping up in my grief. “You never really know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Now I know. Ted is gone. My brother is gone. And without him I’m lonelier than ever.

Gracefully Patient

Patience has never been a virtue of mine. I have always found it difficult to live in the moment and enjoy spending life planning what's next. I have trouble staying focused on one thing and tend to multitask – often in front of multiple screens. For instance right now, I'm booking air travel, texting about yoga class, responding to email, drinking coffee, people watching, writing this, oh, and mourning intensely. You struggled with ADD as a student and continued to as an adult, but despite your diagnosis of lack of focus, I never met a man who was more patient.

When I spent my days with you, I woke up cheerful. I was excited about life.

Now, I wake up anxious. I wake up sad. I feel like a Peanut's cartoon character who walks around with a raincloud over her head all day. I see something out of place and get upset with whoever put it there. My father has been staying with Kevin and I in the house since you died. He's been giving me space and acting with nothing but love, but I am reactive and snappy towards him. I feel like I'm experiencing my worst case of PMS every day, all day. I can hardly stand to be around myself.

I think of the woman I was with you – the joyful woman who always had a positive outlook. That woman would not want to be around this woman. She might pity this woman. I want to be the me I was with you.

A few days ago, someone told me, "Sami, you are grace". The comment stopped me in my tracks. When I was a ten-year-old ballet dancer, my Mademoiselle told me the opposite. She said to me, "Sami you are just not graceful and you will never be". That insult stuck with me as a child and was a defining moment for me. I remember the exact place I was standing when she said it. I remember my black leotard. I remember the scent of rosin on the wood floor. I remember my pointe shoes carelessly laced around my ankles. I decided right then, in that moment, 'Since I am not graceful, instead I will be strong'. And so, I became strong. I left the possibility of embodying grace in the past. In fact, I decided that since I was absolutely not graceful, that I would name the little girl I hoped have someday, Grace. That way, someday, I could have grace.

So when this person told me that I am grace. I was taken aback. I took inventory – where could I possibly give the impression of being graceful right now? I'm a fucking mess! Maybe I appeared graceful in my yoga practice – my own dance of devotion, with strength meeting flexibility, a moving meditation? Maybe I appeared graceful in my moments of gentle strength throughout this mess: a broken woman trying to hold it together? A woman who in her best moments, only allows one tear to fall from the corner of her eye. Maybe in my writing I can sometimes appear graceful – when I'm able to string words together in a proper sentence with only a few grammatical liberties?

I'm not graceful when I'm screaming in my car, punching the steering wheel, red-faced and puffy with buckets of tears falling from my baggy eyes. That's not grace. I'm not graceful when I'm angry – angry at death, angry at life for being fleeting, angry at people for not having altered your fate, angry at myself for failure, even at times, angry at you for leaving. That's not grace. I'm not graceful when I frigid or needy towards others. When someone puts their hand on me and my mind screams, 'Don't fucking touch me!' or maybe when it screams, 'Oh! Please keep touching me.' That's not grace. I'm not graceful when my body is so confused by its lack of touch, that I try in vain to pleasure myself and end up sobbing into a pillow. That's not grace. I'm not graceful when I drive the hairpin turns up the hill to our home and before each turn think, 'Maybe I'll just keep going straight off the cliff instead'. That's not grace. That's not strength.

But you my love, you define grace. You were grace in every move: as a thinker, as a yogi, as a lover, as a driver, as a skier, as a musician, as a teacher, simply, as a man. You carried us in grace. And often, I carried us in strength. You carried us in patience. I carried us in movement. It was a great fit. We each carried the perfect amount of weight to even out the scale. We balanced one another out.

A testament to your beautiful virtue of patience and grace:

In our shower, my faucet tended to leak. Unless the handle was turned tightly, the head would drip constantly. I never remembered to crank the handle. Within a couple weeks of us moving in together, you said to me, "Hey baby, so in our shower, you need to crank the handle down or your faucet will drip." "Oh, OK! I'll remember," I told you. Over the course of the next six months, you reminded me at least forty times. Always with the same patience, the same tone, and never with an ounce of irritation, "Hey baby, so in our shower, you need to crank the handle down or your faucet will drip." "Argh! Yes!" I would remember. "Hey baby, soooo in our shower..." "Yes, yes yes! The drip," I'd say. Over and over and over and over.

One day, six months later, I stepped into the shower and my handle was wrapped in sparkly duct tape. You were trying a new technique. You realized the method you'd been implementing, verbal reminders, wasn't landing – so without being antagonizing, you tried a different method, a visual reminder. And that landed. And every day since, I've cranked the shower handle.

And now, in your absence, that sparkly duct tape is still there. It's a little 'Hello' from you every time I turn the water on and off. You reminded me for six months about that drip, without fail. And you, with your patience that matches none other, didn't place blame for my forgetfulness. You were gracious, thoughtful, and simply tried something new.

I love you for your patience, Teddy. I love you for your grace. I love you for your strength. And as I move through this grief process, when emotions arise – whether it be depression, tears, anger, desperation, or anything else – I'll remember your grace and your patience. I'll remember that now, in order to carry you on, I must embody you. Maybe in time I will have the steadfast patience that you so beautifully held. Maybe there will be brief moments when your grace shows through my being. And maybe someday, I will still have Grace.


Over the past month my inbox, phone, and ears have been flooded with messages, songs, memories, and compassion. I can't tune out the support if I tried. I always thought you had so many friends, such a network of love, my Ted – more friends than I could ever imagine. But through this harrowing circumstance, I now see that I was blind to the love that I also have.

I remember that during breakfast one of your daily tasks was clicking onto Facebook and seeing who's birthday it was. You would write a personal message to each person. I would watch you, as you typed, then deleted, then typed – and stopped to pause, thinking back about an in-joke or a memory you had with that person – then you would type the rest of your words. Maybe they would read it, or maybe it would get buried under all the other 'Happy Bdays' on their page, but as always, to you, it didn't matter, you put the love out there with affinity, and you meant it. You stayed connected. And you remembered others, always.

There are not many people like that, my love. We get so bogged down with our schedule, our day, and mainly – our ego, that we easily get wrapped up in the self. I know I do. I get wrapped up in how I look. I get wrapped up in comparing myself to others. I get wrapped up in who likes me or who doesn't. I get wrapped up in reading between the lines. I get wrapped in technology. I get wrapped up in right or wrong. I get wrapped up in making money. I spend all this time wrapping myself up, so tightly, that I get bound. I get stuck. You my love, unstuck me. And when I got stuck again, you were an example for how to get unstuck. You never told me to unstick myself, you just represented the path of how to achieve it. Who will unstick me now?

You didn't put off sending those daily devotions until later. Because you knew later might not give you time, or later might not come. You acted in the moment. And you acted for others. You were and are a beacon. You were and are a reminder of how fleeting life is, and how important it is to live in-the-now.

So today, I sat in front of my computer and stared. I scrolled through the messages I'd been sent. I read them all. I read them as if I was reading them to you. I listened to the songs people sent me, even the ones by the bands you hated. I imagined you laughing at that. I responded to as many as I could handle for now, because I want to be intentional and not rush. I am moving slowly, but I promise it's deliberate. Because the support means so much to me. If the airwaves were quiet, your silence would be even more deafening.


I went to my first grief support group last night. Twelve other women and one man who all lost their partners/spouses sat around a table with tea and cookies. It was a tea I liked and you hated, we called it Christmas Tea because I thought it tasted like the holiday, although it's actually called Bengal Spice. I was in tears before I even sat down with my scorching cup. I thought about how you would always bring me my tea with three ice cubes in it, because you knew I didn't like it too hot. I thought about how careful you were to steep your tea the proper amount of time – I watched mine burn as it sat boiling in water. I considered sticking my finger into the cup just to see if I could feel any more pain. And then, as I sipped the tea, I thought about Christmas, and realized I could.

We went around the circle and introduced ourselves, told our stories. I cried the most. But not because my story is sadder, they all were. And not because my love is greater, because who am I to calculate the immeasurable? But I was the most raw, it seemed. I was the youngest by at least twenty years. Your death was the most recent. But it was all so sad. Hearing the stories of people who attend this group twice a month, some of whom have been doing it for two or three years. I imagined myself still sitting at this table, with my burnt Christmas Tea and my box of Kleenex, at thirty-three. Where did the time go?

The facilitator told me that sudden death often hits like an airbag. That the wholeness of the reality doesn't land right away. That with the trauma comes a good deal of numbness. That it may take many months for the airbag to deflate, for the realness of the pain to show its face. If this is numbness, than I can't imagine what sensitized feels like. I was horrified.

I heard fourteen lonely stories. Fourteen sad plans of what the upcoming holidays looked like without their mate – they spoke of children without dad, grandchildren without grandpa, mothers without sons, holidays missing tradition. I saw tissue after tissue being moistened with tears and snot, then crumbled up and tossed away into the garbage alongside the dreams of having just one more day with their best friend, just one more night with their lover. I thought of Christmas and the holidays, as they were supposed to be. We were going to have an exciting announcement – we were going to be planning our wedding. And now, there is no wedding and more importantly, there is no you. There is an empty chair at the table – a space where the dreams, future, life, and you once sat. I shouldn't have been so presumptuous. Life is fleeting.

So last night before bed, when I got home from the group meeting, I looked out our window and I dropped to my knees. I knelt, I folded my hands (like I knew I was supposed to, but wasn't sure why), I looked up, and I prayed. I prayed to God. I prayed to you. I prayed to Mother Earth. I prayed to whomever would listen, because I don't think they have ever heard from me before. I begged for your freedom, for your peace. I begged for you not to feel the anguish and desperation that I feel. I begged that you watch over me, but only in the times when I am doing the right thing, because I don't want to disappoint you. I begged for my own peace. I begged for patience. And I begged for eternal love.

It’s a Boy (Guest Blog by Hopie Welles Jernagan)

By Hopie Welles Jernagan (Teddy's sister) 


Luke and I are expecting our third child in April. It’s a boy. He’ll have two older sisters as his traveling companions in our family.

Ted knew that I was pregnant. When we told him the good news, we didn’t yet know the sex of the baby. He was hoping for another nephew—wanting to even up the score. I was hoping for another girl. We found out it was a boy about a week before Ted died, but we never got around to telling him. He knows now.

I was a little disappointed when we found out. I was already immersed in little girl stuff and was  ready to add another one to the gang. I thought that raising three girls would feel like year-round summer camp. I didn’t know quite what to think when the nurse told me, “It’s a boy!”

I sat with a friend the day after we heard the good news and talked it over with her. I finally came around to the idea of raising a boy when I mentioned, “I love having a brother. Now our girls will get to have one too.” And that thought did a complete 180 on my disappointment.

Less than a week later, I lost my brother. And now, I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring a little boy into our family. What a gift our kids will be to one another. My girls don’t even know how lucky they are to get to grow up with a brother. They will, all three of them, learn so much from each other and I can’t wait to see it unfold.

As Luke and I walk through our house, imagining what it will be like to have three kids running around, I explain to him a little about what to expect. Luke grew up with only one sister who is 13 years older. He didn’t have quite the same experience as I did and can’t quite anticipate the chaos that is about to ensue.

I was the middle child with Ted less than two years older and Berkley, about three years younger. We were a three-pronged unit. We were three slamming bedrooms doors. Three sets of coats, hats, mittens and snow boots. Three bikes in the garage. Three different favorite cereals. Three seats taken up in the minivan, three lifejackets in the boat. Three performers in the “shows” we put on for obliging family and guests. We were totally different from one another—people often congratulated my parents on raising three complete individuals. But we were always three.

I tear up (and often all-out sob) when I anticipate our next family gathering. Ted’s absence will be a force. There will be only two of us siblings taking up spots at the table. Two siblings exchanging in sarcastic banter.

I’ve come to realize that Berkley and I will be now known as the two remaining Welles kids. But what we actually are is two-thirds. We will not be a whole number. ‘Two’ does not acknowledge our missing and missed brother. We will be a pie chart where 33% is left unshaded.

As sad as this realization makes me—and it hits me again and again like punches in the face, I am so very glad that I will get to raise my own three-pronged unit. I will teach them to love and appreciate each other. To be their own person but to also remember that they’re a team and to stand up for one another. Hopefully they will grow to learn that a sibling is never to be taken for granted and perhaps the greatest gift their parents ever gave them.