Summer Reading List

I accidentally took a month off from blogging; work got super busy and I don’t honestly know exactly what happened but June is over and now it is July and you guys it is summer which just happens to be my favorite season.

Summer in Seattle is so much different than summers in California. Before I moved to the Northwest, I definitely took nice weather for granted and honestly I don’t remember feeling much of a pull to get outside and enjoy a sunny day. Now, though, once the temperature hits 70 degrees I want to ditch all responsibilities and just be outdoors. I love the warm sun, the fresh air, the long lazy days.

Now that I’m done with school, I plan to spend many summer hours relaxing with good books. I already have some picked out that I’m looking forward to reading, but I would also love recommendations!

Here are the ones I have so far:

Summer of 69 by Elin Hildebrand (my online book club’s pick for July)

Before and Again by Barbara Delinksy

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (this one comes out tomorrow!)

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

California Girls by Susan Mallery

And I’ll probably also re-read Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster because it’s one of my all-time favorites and I usually read it once a summer.

Okay, what books am I missing? Tell me what you’re reading so I can add to my list!

Adultish

I am very happy to report that it appears Seattle’s 2019 Snowmaggedon is nearing its end. The snow has started to melt. By Wednesday, Bill and I were able to finally venture out and go to our offices to work instead of working from home, and I don’t think I’ve ever relished working in a cubicle quite so much as I did that day. I also took time to make my hair and outfit look nice, since I’d been living in my pajamas and forgetting to actually brush my hair most mornings since the snow began.

While we were housebound, one of the things we tackled was a thorough cleaning of our abode so that staying inside all the time would be more pleasant. In doing so, we used up a lot of our household cleaners, making a note along the way of each thing we would need to buy when we could again venture out. After our first day back in the office, we had enough daylight left to stop at Fred Meyer to restock.

Bill has a strategy for buying consumable products like toiletries and cleaning supplies: he buys multiple of each item, then typically buys more again when he opens the last new bottle/jar/tube of said thing. This way, he never finds himself in a position where he is totally out of something he needs. Maybe lots of people do this, I don’t know, but the idea of it was fairly foreign to me before I lived with him. It turns out that stocking up on things is one of my favorite adult things to do, which I think is likely because I’ve been so poor in my life that I couldn’t even afford to buy everything I need, much less to be able to buy multiples of any items so that I would have more for later. Now, being able to buy multiple sticks of deodorant at one time feels like the height of luxury, and I revel in it.

A few weeks ago comedian Bill Maher got flack for calling out people who refer to their grown-up activities as “adulting”, and for still liking the things from our childhoods like comic books and Lucky Charms (now, kids, I like Bill Maher even though I don’t always agree with everything he says, and I suppose he doesn’t do things like invent Eggos with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar on them when he has been snowed in at his house for over a week, which is something that I may have possibly done since the beginning of Snowmaggedon, so let’s not be too hard on him). The thing is, I agree with him on this but then again I don’t. I do adult things like pay my bills on time, and eat vegetables instead of Pop-Tarts for dinner, and hold down a steady job. I have a 401K and an IRA and more than the required $5 in my savings account. I can afford to buy more than one bottle of carpet cleaner at a time. So, I suppose I reasonably have my shit together.

The thing is though, that I don’t really feel like an adult, not a real one. Or, at least I don’t feel the way that I thought I would when I became an adult. When I was a kid, adults seemed so put-together and mature and confident and even though I’m in my thirties now I still feel like a kid playing house half the time. Maybe my parents’ generation wasn’t actually better at being grown-ups than mine is and maybe it’s all a big facade, but I somehow thought that when I got to this age I would have a different outlook on my own level of maturity. The truth is that all of the adulting things I do are because I have recognized that they contribute to my own comfort: I do laundry because I like having clean clothes (and clean sheets, there is not much in life that’s more wonderful than crawling into a bed that’s been freshly made up with sheets still warm from the dryer), I work because I like having money, and I buy things in bulk because the money I earn at my job allows me to and because I hate running out of shampoo and having to dig through the drawers and cabinets in my bathroom in hopes of finding a small hotel sample to hold me over until I can get to the store. I contribute to my retirement accounts because I know I want to retire before I’m a hundred years old and recognize that I need to be saving now for that.

I think we all have to find the things that make us feel fulfilled, and do them. Maybe for Bill Maher that’s putting on snappy suits and smoking lots of weed (not necessarily in that order). That’s the kind of adult he wants to be. I, on the other hand, want to be the kind of adult who can get shit done but who also still wears Vans as my go-to shoes and binge-listens to a podcast about the hit 90’s cartoon Gargoyles on my commute (it’s called Grotesques and it’s amazing).

But seriously, buy three bottles of Windex the next time you’re low on it. Trust me, it feels sooooo good.

 

The Dirt Box

Back when I first moved to Washington, I landed a really cool temporary assignment on a special project at work. Up until then I had always worked in call centers, and this was the first job in seven years with that company that I actually enjoyed. Within the project, there were five of us from the call center, selected because we had worked with the order and billing systems and were pretty savvy with them. The rest of our project team sat on the third floor of the office building, while we were sequestered on the fifth floor with the rest of the call center, so we didn’t have ultimate freedom but we still had a lot more than we did when we were tethered to our desks with headsets. The work itself was fast-paced and interesting, and I learned to do a lot of cool things that no one would ever have taught me when I was on the phone with customers all day long.

We five all got along pretty well, but one of the guys was training for a body-building competition and was really moody most of the time (I like to think that the lack of carbs was just getting to him and that hopefully he’s since eaten some bread and mellowed out), plus his insane diet consisted of a fair amount of dishes that smelled absolutely terrible, which I know because he took his meals at his desk and we were all subjected to the stench of microwaved fish and the like. His name was Patrick, and the rest of us took to calling him Patrick the Starfish (from the show Spongebob Squarepants, in case you live under a rock as opposed to in a pineapple under the sea and do not recognize the reference).

I would like to pause for a moment to note that the Starfish now lives in Hawaii with his extremely hot wife, so he is doing just fine and the story I’m about to tell neither significantly scarred him or ruined his life.

The Starfish had a rather intense personality, which made him a good person to talk to if something wasn’t going right but also made him difficult to joke around with. Any sort of good-natured teasing was out: he was easily offended and each of the other four of us had a row with him at some point during the months we were on the project. The nice thing was that no matter how heated we got, usually by the next day he’d be back in good enough spirits and all would be calm again, and over time we learned what things would make him mad and (for the most part) tried not to do those things.

One day in early fall, the Starfish brought in a tiny box filled with sand and placed it on his desk. Intrigued, I said something along the lines of “What’s up with the dirt box?” to which he rolled his eyes at my clearly uncivilized self and explained to me that it was a Zen garden. He showed me that it came with a little rake, and he could rake the sand just so and apparently when all those grains were perfectly organized then his mind also felt decluttered.

Several of us on the project team were intrigued by the Zen garden. For the most part we’d just ask him questions and have him indulge us by raking it while we watched, but one day my friend Maggie came upstairs from her desk and, upon seeing the sand, was curious about the texture and poked her finger into it. This action unhinged the Starfish, who had such an epic tantrum that the rest of our project team downstairs heard about it and asked me later on what had caused his meltdown. “Oh, Maggie touched his dirt box,” I replied with a dismissive shrug. My explanation amused the others, not just because of the ridiculousness of freaking out at work because someone poked your Zen Garden, but also because I kept calling it a dirt box and apparently that made them think of a cat’s litter box.

Not long after the poking incident, the Starfish came to work in a worse funk than usual (even for him) and in his mood he got on the bad side of a couple of the IT guys on our team. They decided to take their revenge on him and waited until one Saturday afternoon to carry out their plan. Only a few of us from each group in the project team worked Saturdays, including the Starfish and me. The IT guys popped up under the guise of visiting me while the Starfish at lunch, and then, inspired by my referring to the Zen Garden as a dirt box, placed a mini Tootsie roll into the middle of it to make it look like a dirty litter box.

I knew the Starfish was going to lose his mind when he saw what had been done so I made sure that I was in the bathroom before he came back from his lunch break. When I returned, he glowered in my direction and demanded I tell him what I knew about the defiling of his dirt box (I will give him some credit for never accusing me of being the one who messed with it). I walked over, took a look at it, burst out laughing, and told him between giggles that I had been in the bathroom and had no idea who was responsible. He flounced off to go downstairs and tattle to the boss about what had happened, and since there were only a handful of us around the suspect list was rather short. My boss totally could’ve pushed us to fess up to who had played the prank, but he was a super laid-back guy and just told the Starfish to take his Zen Garden home if having it on his desk was causing problems.

And so, that was the end of the Zen Garden at work and the Starfish was a lot more Zen himself with his dirt box safely at home in its raked perfection.

 

 

Gratitude

Standing at the sink in the kitchen of our new home, I can gaze out across the living room as I wash dishes. One weekend morning not long ago I did so as usual, cleaning up the dishes after enjoying the breakfast my sweet husband cooked for us. As I began cleaning up he had moved to the couch and the sight of him relaxing on a sunny weekend morning made me smile.

As I looked out at our living room, my husband on the couch and my cats stretched out in patches of morning sun, I felt so much gratitude for everything I was seeing. Life is short and ever-changing; my view from the kitchen won’t always look this way. The cats are getting older – hell, Bill and I are getting older – and with growing older I understand so much more that every moment is one to be cherished because it won’t be like this forever.

I don’t say this to be ominous. Life is the best it’s ever been and I am so incredibly grateful for these quiet and happy moments. I’ve had so many of them, especially since moving into our new home in April. We are both so in love with our new place and we spend more time at home now than we ever did when we lived in our rental. Our old apartment didn’t have a place for a table, so we never owned one, and the living room was only big enough for a love seat and an armchair. The apartment complex was on a major street, so it was nearly always loud when we ventured onto our back patio. Now, in our new home, we can do things that we couldn’t  before. We enjoy meals together sitting at the dining room table, we relax on our back deck on nice days, and we stretch out together on our giant, cozy new couch and watch movies together.

The happiness we feel doesn’t come from just the possession of the house itself, but from what it represents: an accomplishment we achieved together and can now enjoy together. Bill and I have shared so many adventures over the last four years, and home ownership is the newest but by no means the last one we’ll have together. There is no single item I have ever owned in my life that has given me the kind of peace and happiness that this life together brings me.

I admit that at times I lose sight of that feeling of gratitude and fall into the rut of just going through the motions of everyday life. Even though I generally can find joy in most things, there are definitely moments when I can’t find my shoes and leave late for work, or spill my coffee all over my car, and I catch myself getting way too riled up by these annoyances. Of course once that moment of self-awareness hits and I see how silly I’m being, then I regret allowing such small problems to make me fall short of being the person I want to be. Usually the things that frustrate me the most are the ones that I feel are rooted in my own shortcomings: running late makes me worry that I am not truly dependable, spilling things shows that I’m disorganized and klutzy.

In those moments where I’m falling short of my own standards, I’m learning to take a step back and imagine myself standing at the kitchen sink, looking out at my beautiful living room at my wonderful family. This image in my mind is soothing and grounding; it puts it in perspective to me how truly rich I am in this life and reminds me that small frustrations are such small and insignificant parts of such a great existence.

 

Reflecting on My First 2 Months at WGU

It’s been almost two months since I went back to school, and today I submitted my final paper for a class. If the paper scores highly enough, I’ll have completed my third class since going back to school.

When I first enrolled, I set myself a goal of earning my Bachelor’s degree by December 2018. It seemed like a manageable goal when I was first starting out, but after completing three classes in two months I really want to finish by next June. It’s a very aggressive timeline for completion, but my student mentor agrees that it’s obtainable if I keep working hard.

In a lot of ways, the course work is a lot easier than I was anticipating. I love that all my classes are directly geared toward my course of study, and each one builds on the concepts learned in the previous one. So far, I’ve taken Intro to HR, Employment Law, and Workforce Planning. I can easily apply the concepts I’m learning in school to things that are done where I work. There’s a LOT of reading, but I can do it while sipping my coffee in the morning before work or lounging in the living room on a Sunday. And while the final exams require at least a score of 80% to pass, I haven’t really struggled with any of them. The first time I took one, it did throw me a bit – the exam consists of situational questions rather than memorizing definitions of terms or anything like that, which was not a format I was expecting – but now that I know what to expect, I get through them pretty easily.

I was VERY nervous about submitting my first paper, because I had read about other students’ experiences and it sounded as if it was going to be a somewhat nightmarish process where I had to rewrite my paper dozens of times before earning a passing grade. My first two classes only required a final exam, so I was rather intimidated when my Workforce Planning test had a final exam and two assigned papers to complete. To my surprise and relief, I got the paper back with a passing grade on the first try!

I’m going to give myself a little break from school after this class, but I’ll start back up again with my next one the weekend after Labor Day. I’m especially excited to take the next one, as it’s a Project Management class and I’ll be able to directly use the new information I’ll be learning at work. I recently realized that I had a gap in my resume when it comes to Project Management, so taking an entire class on the subject came at the perfect time!

Overall, I really like the course structure at WGU and school is fitting into my life a lot more seamlessly than I was expecting. It’s really true that with this program, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. I’m really happy that I made the choice to go back and even happier that I decided to study at WGU.

 

A Little Hole in the Wall Place

Ahhh, Saturday morning. I love weekends, especially when they start off with me sleeping in (or, me getting up at 5am, feeding the cats, and immediately going back to bed – those spoiled animals do NOT wait for their meals).

This past Saturday, I woke up around nine feeling incredibly refreshed. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sleep in like that and it was amazing. I got up and set about making a pitcher of iced tea for the weekend, thinking that it would be nice to have tea for the warm days. It’s been a minute since I’ve pulled out my iced tea maker, and I had to fish around in the pantry to find the tea bags. When I opened the cupboard, I found that there was water on the shelf. Not a lot, just enough for me to say, “Huh, there’s water in here” and look down at the floor to see if there was water anywhere else.

There was no water, but there were ants on the floor.

ANTS.

I have not had ants in my kitchen since moving to the Northwest and had (falsely, I now know) believed that ants don’t attempt to take up residence in kitchens around here. In California, they’d make their way in every summer, usually dining on cat food before drowning in the water bowl. I would wake up to a little trail of them going across my living room more often than I care to think about, and I got very good at being careful not to leave anything out that would attract the little bastards. Here in Edmonds, I never worried about it, and to be fair there wasn’t much around that ants would like besides the cats’ breakfast.

My zen totally shattered, I set about removing the ants from the kitchen by way of spraying everything down with Windex and then cleaning up the carnage. Sorry, creatures, we have enough freeloading animals in this house already – we have no room for more. I will not go out of my way to kill bugs and things when I’m outside, but they come in my kitchen and they’re toast.

Once I finished de-bugging my kitchen, I went about my day, forgetting about the water in the cabinet that started the whole debacle. Well, forgetting for a couple more hours anyway, until I heard something dripping in the kitchen. I went to investigate, and found water dripping out of the wall and down the pantry. Although it undeniably created an ambiance, water definitely should NOT have been cascading down my pantry door.

As much as I yearn to be a homeowner again, I cannot deny the luxury of calling property management as a renter when things in my home are broken. We are incredibly spoiled where we live, as our manager and maintenance are beyond kind and responsive whenever we need anything. As the developing situation in my kitchen was one of the more immediate problems we’ve had, maintenance was out within the hour to investigate.

The maintenance fellow was very nice and jumped right in to attempt to locate the source of the leak. He went upstairs to the apartment above ours and turned on the bathtub faucet, but couldn’t duplicate the problem (we did take a video of the dripping water when we noticed it, which came in very handy since by the time maintenance arrived, the leak had stopped for a time). Apologetically, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to have to cut open your wall.” Since I was not going to be paying for the creation or subsequent patching of said hole, I was not too concerned, and set to leaning on my counter and watching this unfold.

Adds a certain something to the decor, n’jes?

Once we had a good-sized hole in the wall, it was apparent that our pantry cabinet was totally waterlogged, and that there must have been a previous water leak in the pipe above the cabinet because there was putty that has now fallen away. The maintenance man was hopeful that the water we were experiencing in our kitchen had been trapped previously by the putty and that there was no current leak, but I was skeptical. After giving us instructions on what to do should water come gushing out of the newly-exposed pipes, our new friend left with the promise to follow up with our property manager.

Of course, on Sunday while we were sitting in the living room the pipe began leaking again, confirming our suspicions that the water from the day before was not from an old problem but from an existing one. We stuck a towel underneath to catch the water, knowing that nothing much more could be done until a plumber could be called on Monday. This morning I was assured that the problem would be fixed in a day or two, but I’m bracing myself to wait this one out for awhile until all repair efforts have been coordinated. In the meantime, I will be amusing myself by telling anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with me that my kitchen is just a “little hole in the wall place” and laughing at my own joke.

Reclaiming My Optimism

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, mostly because over the last few weeks I have been in a funk of epic proportions. I suspect my mood was mostly due to the fact that the weather in the Northwest has pretty much sucked since November, and I am so sick of cold weather. I readily accept that winters are tough here: the days are very short, and very gray, and very gloomy. The weather is cold and damp. But usually, by mid-March we will have some hints of spring and a promise of warmer weather. As day after day passed without even breaking sixty degrees, I began to despair of ever enjoying being outside again.

Thankfully, the first week of May brought with it some warmer, sunnier days (and even a thunderstorm!), and it has started to feel like Seattle may have summer after all. My spirits rose with the temperatures, and I started feeling better. I also started feeling like I needed to rediscover things that keep me feeling optimistic and happy, so that I can hold onto feeling better even if the weather doesn’t hold.

One of the things I love the most about my office is that it’s located directly next to a trail that runs beside a little creek. I love walking that trail. There are frequently ducks and geese by the creek, and occasionally I’ll see a nutria or a little turtle who likes to sun himself on a tree branch that drops down into the water. I hate being cold and had all but abandoned my walking ritual, but last week I decided I needed to re-commit to it. Not only does fresh air make me feel cheery, but the breaks from my desk are a necessity.

Speaking of my desk, I got new photos printed to display at work. Looking at photos of my husband, our fur kids, and our families reminds me of why I work hard when I’m feeling stressed at the office. I hadn’t put out any new photos in quite awhile (a framed one of Bill and I was actually the first photo anyone took of us together!), so I swapped out some of the older ones with new ones from our wedding.

Aren’t we a good-looking group?

I also added some newer photos of the cats, including a really cute one of our newest baby, Ernie.

Ernie Monster!

I also decided I needed to resume writing in my Gratitude Journal. What better way to brush off a lousy mood than to sit and think of things that make life good? My journal has evolved a bit since I started writing it; currently, I write down three things I’m grateful for that day and three wins. The wins can be anything from merely getting out of bed to a major accomplishment like completing a stressful project. The point is to remind myself daily that I have a lot in my life to be thankful for and that I am accomplishing things, even if those things are small.

Got any other tips for shaking free of the blahs? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

 

 

 

(Less Than!) Three Months to Go!

Happy 2017! I am SO glad to be ringing in a new year. I spent my New Year’s Eve with friends, enjoying good company, food, drinks, and some unexpected snow!

The countdown is on for Bill and I – less than three months to go until our wedding! March is going to be here unbelievably fast, and we still have a lot to do to get ready! We’ve got the “big stuff” figured out: we have our venue, I’ve got my wedding dress and am taking it to my alteration appointment next weekend, and we’ve selected our cake and cupcakes (dessert is very important to me).

Bill described 2016 as a “bad year to be planning a wedding”, and I think that sums things up perfectly. A year ago, I felt like I had all the time in the world to figure out every detail, and was excited to jump in and make some wedding magic happen. I quickly learned that life will get in the way and it’s easy to go from having plenty of time to being dangerously behind in planning, and that when it comes to planning weddings everything will cost more than you wanted it to. It was starting to feel impossible to think of everything we would need for the big day, without completely blowing our budget (shout-out to our wonderful parents for helping us out with the costs!).

Not going to lie, I was feeling pretty stressed out and afraid that things weren’t going to come together. Enter The Invisible Hostess, aka the Best Thing to Happen to Wedding Planning. Bill and I met with our coordinator, Jocelyn, and I was immediately comfortable with her and excited to work with her. Her cozy Capitol Hill office is more like an inviting living room, and even my darkest concerns about planning the wedding seemed so simple and easily managed once I talked them over with her. With her help, I feel like every question has an answer and every problem a solution, and for the first time since we started planning I feel like this wedding can go off without a hitch. We love you, Jocelyn!

I’m so excited for our wedding day. I know that time is going to fly by, which is fine by me!

 

 

 

 

7 Good Things in 2016

I know I’m not alone when I say that 2016 sucked. I honestly can’t remember another year that was so very difficult and full of heartache. I lost people I loved, and I am still dealing with those losses. Several well-loved celebrities passed away. Donald Trump was elected president. My beloved Zumba instructor moved away. Yes, 2016 feels like a big middle finger to all that is good.

My friend Kate sent me her most recent blog post to look over, and while she concurred that 2016 was far from the best year ever, she did find some good things about it and inspired me to do the same. I decided to challenge myself to find things about this year that I really liked and was happily surprised that I was able to do it.

Since seven is my favorite number, here are the top seven moments of my 2016:

 

The Cubs won the World Series. My fiancee Bill is a huge Cubs fan, and cheering with him as his team finally broke the curse and won the World Series was definitely a highlight of 2016 for me.

world-series-win

We went to Hawaii. My birthday present to Bill for his 40th birthday was a trip to Maui. That trip was one of the best parts of the whole year for us. We relaxed, enjoyed the island, and ate too much good food.

hawaii-2016

I changed jobs. After a collective five years working high-level complaints, I transitioned into an analyst position with my company in October. It has been such a welcome change in so many ways. My work-related stress levels are way down, I have a fantastic new boss and a team of coworkers that I love, and I’m learning new things every day.

img_3621

Less stress = more smiles!

We climbed a mountain. Ever since Bill and I started dating, he’s been talking about hiking Mt. Pilchuck. While it sounded fun, it also sounded incredibly intimidating, but last summer I took the plunge and agreed to go. It was hard, probably even harder than I thought it would be, but it was SO beautiful and I felt so accomplished when we finally reached the car at the end of the hike.

pilchuck-hike

I bought a bike and rode the heck out of it. I did not get my first bike until I was ten, and even once I had one, there was really nowhere to ride it. When I bought my Trek bike last May and started riding trails every weekend, I knew how to pedal and not fall over…but that was about it. I passed the summer blissfully logging miles and improving my speed and endurance. Admittedly, my bike hasn’t seen the light of day since the temperatures turned cold (I am officially a fair-weather rider), but as soon as spring is here I’ll be back to it!

bike-riding

I became a Subaru person. Yep, I traded in my sports car for a Subaru Impreza and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Now I have a car that I can put bikes on, drive to trailheads, go camping with, and take on road trips. Oh, and it’s nice to have a car with four doors so I can actually pick up other people when I’m going places! Now that I’ve owned my first one, I’m definitely on Team Subaru.

subie

We got the gang back together.….Meaning that I got to spend time with both my family and Bill’s in 2016. Since everyone but my brother lives out of state, coordinating visits is hard! Bill and I flew to Indiana for an extended weekend in August, and my whole family got together for a long weekend in December. Now that my brother and I both live in Edmonds and my sister’s in San Diego, it’s hard to get everyone together at my parents’ house at the same time. We managed to pull it off though, and we had a blast!

family

Such a good-looking bunch

When I look back on this year, I’m going to do my best to remember the good things that happened instead of the bad…choose to be happy, right? Dwelling on the bad won’t make it better, so I’m going to try and move on in my own way and put my energy into making 2017 my best year yet.

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

He was smart and adventurous, funny and kind. We worked together for over three years, during which time we grew as close as brother and sister. We had many thoughtful conversations about everything that popped into our heads. We leaned on each other when things were difficult, we laughed together during many good times.

He left the company we worked for, gave away most of his belongings and hopped on a plane to travel the world. How I envied his impulsiveness as he moved from country to country, and how I missed being able to see him nearly every day. When he came back the following summer, he took me out for Mexican food and talked animatedly about everything he had seen and done. For hours we sat outside on the deck in the evening sunshine, as he told me about his travels and adventures. Our friendship was as strong as ever, even though we didn’t see each other nearly so often. We still made a point of getting together, usually to watch a football game. No matter how long it had been since we’d seen each other, it would instantly feel as if we’d never been apart. He would wrap me in a warm hug and exclaim, “Sunshine! I’ve missed you!”, using his special nickname for me. And then we would laugh and catch up on whatever had been going on in our lives.

In November, we met up to watch a Seahawks game. He was in a cheerful mood. He ordered a huge cheeseburger as he told me stories about his new job in between football plays. When I hugged him goodbye I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever be able to do so. A couple of weeks later, on his birthday, I texted with him, wishing him a happy day. He seemed to be in good spirits.

The next thing I heard was about him, not from him. It was the first weekend in December and he was gone forever.

Losing a loved one to suicide is so much different than any other kind of loss. On top of the grief, there’s the ever-present struggle with not being able to understand why. Although knowing why he felt he could not go on would not change the outcome, I feel like it would give me some closure on things. I have to accept that there will be no understanding, that his reasons were his own and I will never know them. What I do know is that I think of him every day, and I miss him.

The day of his funeral was bright and sunny, bitterly cold. It’s brisk, my dad would always joke on a freezing cold morning like that one. The six of us that had worked with him sat neatly in a pew, joined by Bill, and surrounded by some people we knew and others we had never met. His mother and his best friend each spoke to all of us in the room, telling stories of his life and reading things he had written (he was a wonderful writer). After that a lengthy slideshow was played, all photos of him, of his life, with his usual big smile (and, in more recent photos, the various stages of his beard) on his face.

Since then, life has been a bit of a blur. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve broken down a few times and really cried, but for the most part I try to keep myself quiet and calm. I’m torn between desperately wanting to spend time with people I love, in case I never again have the chance, and at the same time desperately needing to be alone.

The happiest memories of him can bring tears to my eyes now that he’s gone. I was forever changed by knowing him and changed further by losing him.

My promise to myself is to try to live my life the way he lived his, seeking adventure and laughing hard and hugging people in such a warm and comfortable way that those hugs will be part of a legacy.