Today, I woke up later than usual and when I saw the time my mind went into a brief panic, “I need to turn my phone on. What if Jake called?”, and then I remembered. You aren’t going to call. I won’t get to hear your voice again. When will my brain remember that you’re gone from my world for the rest of my life? It’s such a hard concept to process and even harder to bear. Jake, I miss you. I can close my eyes and see you. After all of these years I have you memorized. I know your smile, your chuckle, exactly what your hands and feet look like, your hair, the location of your moles, the scars from having some removed, your smell, the way you move and your voice. I miss your voice the most. I can feel what your neck, head and back feel like because I rubbed them so many times, especially at church. I remember your hugs as a child and as a man, but everything is gone now, Jake. Everything I love about you has vanished and I am here trying to cope. Sometimes it’s simply unbearable and so hard to accept.
Yesterday, I realized that everyone close to you has moved. You’ve only been dead for three and half months and we all live in new places except your dad. And then I did it again, “How will Jake find us if he happens to show up?” But you aren’t coming back and sometimes my mind forgets for just a split second. I hate it because when I remember, my heart seems to break all over again.
Tomorrow Ray and I will drive to Chicago to see your Lieutenant. He’s still hospitalized, and will be the last one to be discharged from the crash. He had two strokes that have affected the language center of his brain and he’s learning to speak, read and write again. I hear he’s doing better and look forward to visiting. I can’t imagine how hard and how frustrating this must be for him. The good thing is that his family lives in Chicago and can visit and help. I pray that I can be of help to him somehow. I pray that he doesn’t feel responsible in any way for your death. I know you would never want anyone to feel responsible.
People often offer their condolences and thank me for your sacrifice, but it was your sacrifice, Jake. It was you that set out to try to make this world a better place, and I know that if you could be thanked now, you would say, “I was happy to do it”, because of who you are. That makes you my hero.