And to my family...you knew it was coming...
July 11 2001.
9 years ago.
Such a sad day.
But there had been a lot of sad days that year, leading up to that day. July 11 was just the day it became official...
9 years. The last time we talked, I was still Melissa Noble. An adult at 21, but looking back, still a child in so many ways compared to who I am now.
A lot has happened. Since last we spoke I became engaged, and then married, to Jeff. We lost you in July, we got engaged in October. I called a good friend of the family to share the news and she said "finally, some good news for your family!"
I know you approved of Jeff. During the eulogy I gave at your funeral I said that I had just always assumed you would be at my wedding. You weren't there, but you were remembered. Through laughter, and through some tears. Krissy got up and lit a candle for you during the ceremony. Did you see Aunti Di as she sped through her reading? Did you see Mike cry? I have never seen so many people cry at a wedding. It was a great day. I knew you were there while the pictures were being taken at your house...one of the few places and times it didn't rain that day. I had "The Crystal Chandelier" played at the reception and I know you smiled, but the song that most remided me of you was "Wasn't that a Party?" by the Irish Rovers. That song always makes me think of you. There were tears again during Mom's speech when she toasted you...it was a great day, but you were missed.
Jeff and I moved to Goderich, and have been here 8 years now. You would like our place. There is a junk drawer in the kitchen, because I remember you telling me that every man deserved his own junk drawer in the kitchen, even if it was the only thing in the kitchen he had. Jeff also has a garage to tinker in, and he installed a woodstove in it so that he could tinker all year long. He’s pretty handy, and has built some good stuff over the years. He has his own fridge in the garage too, something else I know you would approve of. We have lots of flowers in our backyard, Grandma worked really hard to teach me about flowers and gardening when we first moved in…it’s kind of become “our thing” over the years. There are lots of plants and flowers all over your yard too…not sure how you’d feel about that. A lot of trees have come down in your yard, in storms and due to old age. I miss the big one that was right beside your house...Ty just pulled the stump out earlier this spring and now in its place are...more flowers. There is a memory garden there for you too, which we have all contributed to over the years. Recently my little Jack wandered up to it and stood there for a few minutes...completely innocently on his part, but an intense moment for me as I watched him standing there.
Grandma usually spends a week or so at our place each year, and I know Jeff really enjoys and appreciates having her here…our house is never as clean, and we never eat as well, as that week that she is here. She has taught him a lot too, especially about cooking. Remember when he first started coming around and cooked his steaks until they tasted like leather? He always says it is thanks to you and Grandma that he learned the true way to cook and eat steak.
Did you see him, a few years ago, when he sold allllllllll of his fishing stuff, full tacklebox and all his rods, for $20? I could almost hear you cursing him. I did. But I also knew you were patting that man who bought them on the back for a job well done. You'd like the yard sales in this town...I dare say they are better than the ones in Kincardine. Grandma likes to go yardsale-ing here when she visits. She likes the craft show too...something I know you would not have approved of ;) Goderich is a great town in the summer. I know you would visit us a lot here...if you were here.
Mike has gotten married too and has settled in Brussels, if you can believe it. Did you see me sobbing as I walked down the aisle that day? Or my Makenna at the ceremony when she announced at the front of the church that she needed to pee? Grandma lit a candle for you during their ceremony, and you were remembered...but missed. Did you see us dancing with Alicia at the reception? Did you laugh during the peanut fight? Did you see the show my dear husband put on? I know you were snickering as you watched the spectacle he made of himself.
Mike's a fireman too now, and has done so well for himself. He makes more than I do, and has a college diploma, even though he doesn’t have a highschool diploma. This summer he will be formally recognized for saving another man’s life. He is a really really really good man…and I think the two of you would have became good friends. Just the other day he was questioning how to work your fish smoker, and I know he was wishing he could just ask you. He's still playing ball, still kicking ass. Grandma goes to watch him whenever she can, and I know would too. Mike is well respected and admired by many now…which I know is something you worried may never happen…but he has done so well for himself. I think you would like his wife, Nicole too. Her dad is a lot like you. You would really like Murray. Nicole is quite used to the teasing you would have done and can hold her own quite nicely. She plays ball, and broomball, and is very involved in her community. They have a dog, Oliver, who I am sure you would love…moreso than the cat that is currently living at your house, that's for sure.
But the biggest thing that has happened, to me anyways, is the kids. My kids.
Makenna is almost 6. She asks about you from time to time. Even though she never met you, she knows that her Gran (I wonder what she would have called you) used to have a husband who was my grandpa, and she knows that he loved to go fishing. That's the now infamous picture that everyone has up in their homes, the one of you at the trailer, with the 2 big salmon you had caught that day, wearing one of the hundreds of those goofy hats you had, grinning from ear to ear.
She sometimes asks what happened to you, or questions heaven, and, in her six year old innnocence, wonders aloud when others will join you there. She is very inquisitive, very curious.
Oh, is she smart.
I know you would think so. I know she would have you wrapped around her little finger. Another thing I said in your eulogy, is that I had always just assumed you would bounce my kids on your knee. The day she was born, Gran came to meet her, and a light came back into her eyes.
I wish you could have a conversation with her…she’d give you a run for your money. And you should see her read. But I don’t think she’d like it if you bonked her on the head the way you used to do to us… just yesterday my Jack did almost the exact thing you used to do to us, to her, and I just stared at him in amazement. and no, she didn't like it. She’s a gentle soul, very sensitive. She loves easily, and hurts easily my girl does, and I worry about her gentle heart as she gets older. She has a very special relationship with her Gran, which is important to me, and wonderful to see.
And then there's my Jack. Jeff and I never questioned what we would name our son. It would either be Jake, because that's what your nickname was, what your sister Ruth called you, or it would be Jack. When Gran heard we named you Jack, she was surprised, although I don't know why.
Now this child would have been your very special friend, I have no doubt. He is 2 years old and everything all the boys in the family are. He's mischevious, charming, cute, and full of personality. He is stubborn and loud and dramatic. He is a Mama's Boy. He can kick a ball almost as well as he can throw one and he always has a hat on, although, much to your chagrin i'm sure, sometimes it's on backwards. You can't help but smile at this boy, he knows how to work his magic. He's not too sure about his Papa Roy, but Papa Roy has learned he can win him over with smarties, just as I'm sure you would have quickly figured out. Whether it would have been candy, or cheese, or summer sausage or fresh peas...he would have sat there and ate it with you. He's quite the conversationalist too, and I know he would have held a very special place in your heart.
I had minor scares with both pregnancies, nothing serious...but I prayed to you both times to help me and make sure everything would be okay...and it was. You have came to me in dreams over the years when I have been especially struggling, or lost, and I have felt comforted when I woke up. I will never forget, as long as I live, having a dream about you 9 years ago, where you sat with Ty, Mark and I, and said simply that everything was going to be alright. I looked at Jeff the next morning and said I had a bad feeling. I called Mom at work, only to learn that neither she nor Aunti Di were there. I called Krissy, who told me everyone was at the hospital, and then later answered the phone to hear Mom say that you were gone.
9 years is a long time. Lots of good has happened, some not so good. Travis and Nikki, the two youngest grandkids each flew to Alberta over the last couple days, alone, on separate flights. Ty is still with Courtney, and Mark, Krissy, Tiffany, Kirby and Chris are all in serious relationships. I don't know who will be married next, but I always look forward to a Brown family wedding. Grandma is getting ready to leave that house she has lived in for so long, the house we all call home. Life has went on for us all but you are always remembered...always missed.
In the eulogy, I wondered aloud if you worried about me when I was on the way and then when I was young, wondering how I would turn out, if everything would be okay.
I think I've done okay and turned out well. I think we all have, and were lucky to be born into such a supportive, close family. I wish, more than anything that my children could have met you...gone camping with you...snuck treats with you, went fishing with you...heard your stories...saw the way you loved your wife. I wish, so much, you had had a chance to know them...but I know that you are watching them and helping me to guide them, and for that, I am grateful.I mused in the eulogy that while we all struggled so much in saying goodbye and letting go, you were the one having to say goodbye to everyone you knew. 9 years later, the ache is still there, tears still fall. Being the oldest I was blessed to have a relationship some of the others didn't have, but your personality was one that everyone knew...knew what you liked and certainly knew what you didn't like...a personality not easily forgotten, always remembered, tremendously missed.
Driving home to Gorrie, 9 years ago today, the song "I'm already there" by Lonestar came on the radio. Tears fell as I stared out the window then, and tears fall as I listen to it now.
Your battle with cancer was a shock, and it was relatively short. But it couldn't touch your spirit or your personality.
Today, we remember so many good times. Great times. We miss you and still can't believe you're not here. But we thank you for all you've been to us in the last nine years, and all you will be for us in the years to come.
Remembering Back...and Looking Forward...