Dear Allen,

Today is your day. And we remember.

As we look at the beauty of the day, as we struggle through commonplace challenges, as we get on with our lives forever changed, we remember.

As we pray for your soul and those who grieve most deeply, we remember.

As we heal and yet remain broken, we remember.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since we got the phone call on the country road, changing all of our lives forever.

Time dulls pain, or so the saying goes. But on January 3, after only two years, I can’t help but think that the pain is not so dulled.

I feel, sometimes, like I end up writing about things that aren’t mine. It wasn’t my husband who died, after all. It’s not my children who have to comfort themselves with thoughts of a father in heaven, as opposed to the feel of his arms hugging them.

Maybe that’s my role. Maybe my job is to share, to commemorate, to expose whatever small part of the grief that I can access. Maybe I am chronicling it and sharing the gift with more people.

Because it is a gift, even though it hurts. It hurts people whose pain I would carry, whose burdens I would bear.

I see it in her eyes, sometimes, when she doesn’t remember to guard them. I see it, other times, in the tilt of a head, in the extra-long moment spent in the bathroom, in the surreptitious wipe of hands across a face.

It’s funny, how we remember. There are times when we’ll be talking about something, and you will come up, be a part of the conversation.

It’s odd, in fact, how we feel that we know you better now that we’re around your girls–all three of them–so much more. I feel, at times, like you left us something like a living memory, one that we may not have appreciated if not for the lens through which we see it now.

You must be so proud of your girls. It’s hard on them, though they are brave and courageous and do their best to be self-sufficient.

Send them some comfort today, a hug from heaven. Have Mama Mary hold them tightly.