On this day one year ago, we said our final goodbyes to Joshua.
I don’t remember much about that day at all. I remember trying to eat a few bites now and again. I remember a lot of hugs and a lot of unbelievably sad faces. I remember a few people saying things I am sure they would later regret. And I remember the minute I locked eyes with the one person I desperately needed to see. When she showed up, I finally felt the strength I needed to get through the rest of the day. And she gave me the permission that I needed to step away from the mourners and take a few minutes (mostly) alone.
I remember standing at the podium, delivering a eulogy that included a poem from our wedding vows and another poem that I knew in my heart was a message from him. The second I read the words aloud: “love me but let me go” – I knew that I was speaking for him. I was delivering his final message to all who mourned the loss of his life.
That fact just now solidified itself in my heart. I knew that it was happening at the time but only on a subconscious level. It wasn’t until I just typed the words that I consciously realized the gravity of that moment.
The last thing I remember from that day was laying myself over his casket after it had been closed. I’m sure that was a painful sight for those people remaining, but I needed to hug him one last time.
I needed to say my final goodbye.
And now, one year later, with the fog mostly lifted and a better functioning brain, I want a do-over.
I spoke for my husband while delivering his eulogy.
Today, I want to speak for me.
Joshua was one of the kindest and most charismatic people I have ever met. From the moment we decided to create a life together, I knew what song I wanted to dance with him to at our wedding. The lyrics described him perfectly: “everyone who sees you, always wants to know you, and everyone that knows you, always has a smile…everyone calls you amazing, I just call you mine”.
Josh made friends with everyone wherever he went. He made enemies, too, don’t get me wrong. But he always had your back. He was a huge supporter of the underdogs and would stand up for what was right – even if it made him unpopular in the moment.
Josh was an amazing teacher. He was so patient when it came to helping others learn. He loved to share his knowledge (and I swear he knew a little bit about everything) with others and watch them grow as individuals, soldiers, medics, etc. He taught me so much during our five years together and half the time I didn’t even realize it. The last thing Joshua ever taught me while he was alive (I’ve learned an extraordinary amount from him since he died) was how to fish. Of course, I knew how to fish before I met him. But he taught me how to fish using a fancy fishing pole. I was always a push button girl, but not even five days before he died, he taught me how to use a spinning reel. He doesn’t know this, but I got the line tangled quite a few times. But I was so happy to be deemed worthy of using his expensive poles. That same excursion, while he caught about six fish and I caught zero (per usual), he even let me reel a fish in for him because he felt bad. That was how he showed his love. And I will forever cherish little moments like that.
Just last night, I was reliving a memory that I have missed terribly. We ate Portillo’s for dinner probably far too often. I would almost always get the same thing. As we were sitting down to eat, without fail, he would always ask for a bite of my sandwich and steal a couple of fries while he was at it. He had to “make sure it was okay” and safe for me to eat. It got to the point where I just handed it to him before sitting down.
And that was our life together. A series of strange and yet amazingly predictable events.
The love flowing between us, even during the most trying of times, was palpable. Even when he was angry and barely speaking to me, he still wanted me to come along to run errands or go fishing.
He knew that our love ran deeper than any of the pain.
Josh was an amazing, talented and hard-working human being. He had a way of making me feel as though I were the most amazing person in the entire world. He was always great at leaving little love notes and sending long text messages telling me what he loved about me.
Every single day I miss that. I miss being so special to somebody. I miss finding alarms set on my phone with little messages attached. I miss him stealing my phone to update my social media pages with goofy things. I miss holding him at night and kissing him goodbye in the morning.
I miss his hugs.
Joshua may not have always made the wisest decisions. And life had a way of really breaking him down. But throughout it all, he never forgot what really mattered: his family. Blood and chosen family, he would fight tooth and nail for every single person. He frequently confessed to me about how badly it hurt that he felt like he was letting everybody down. He loved his people until his very last breath.
And his people, they loved him.
Joshua will always be remembered for his big heart, his goofy smile, his “sexy” dance moves (love you, J) and his hard work, strength and determination.
Not a minute goes by that I don’t wish I could see his smiling face again. Especially when those beautiful blue eyes got to twinkling with his latest mischievous idea.
This man lived a very full life packed into thirty-three very short years.
Joshua, my love, you will never be forgotten.
Until we meet again. 💜