I can't believe it's been a year. It's been a year since we were sitting home on a Sunday night watching football and Jeff's phone rang. It was Dad with the worst news I've ever heard. And it was the beginning of the most defining year of my life so far.
After I had to tell my baby sister the news that Sunday night, I tried to go to work on Monday – and got as far as Mick's office at P&G. I told him what few details I had then and completely broke down. After promising to let people know at my office, he sent me straight back home where I pretty much stayed until we left for San Antonio a week later. During that week I got phone call after phone call and text messages and emails from anyone and everyone who knew you and knew of you. I don't think I answered a single one until weeks later. I didn't have the words. That Tuesday I had my first prenatal appointment and confirmed I was pregnant. By the end of that week I didn't know if I had room in my heart for anything more.
But I did. We left for San Antonio that Saturday and spent a week with family and friends. We laughed as much as we cried and my heart was comforted by every person who was there. Little did any of us know just how many lives you had touched. And there was more to come. Over the course of the last year, people have continued to contact Mom and Dad with stories of how you have been in and out of their lives – knowingly and unknowingly. I am still stumbling upon articles and blogs about you – written by people none of us have ever met. It is very healing to know that your story is out there.
14 October 2007. So much has happened since that day– Laura graduated from college, we spent our first Christmas without you, Colt was born, Mom has been in and out of the hospital, Laura's in Africa while Becky's in Fayetteville near us, Mom and Dad are moving across the country, and this last week was the first time I couldn't call or write you on your birthday. And for everything that's changed forever – there are things that will always be the same. I will always secretly pull for Notre Dame and I will probably always tear up a little when I hear John Denver on the radio. And I will always be so proud that you're my brother.
Over the course of the year, I've grown stronger when it comes to your story. I wear your name on my wrist every day and for awhile it was tough when people asked about it. I would tell them about you, and fight back tears – often unsuccessfully. But more and more now, I'm able to talk about you with a smile on my face – which I know suits you. And wherever we are – Arkansas or Africa – I know you're there, too.
I will never forget what it was like to say goodbye to you that day at West Point last October, but I remember you like this:
I miss you. And I know that someday we'll all be laughing together again.
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure your life in love.
– RENT, Jonathan Larson