One thousand, one hundred and fifteen days have gone by since we discovered you were no longer a part of this universe, our universe. It has gotten easier to process but it’s still not easy. The shock of it never ceases. It is still surreal. How can I summarize in words the cluster of pain we feel everyday given your absence? Let’s see. The reality that you are missing and missed our daughter and son’s 16th birthdays, his phenomenal culinary skills, his dream of becoming a chef and his fascination with living in Japan someday, our daughter’s early high school graduation, 18th birthday, first year of college and her being on the honor roll with a 3.81 GPA and her extraordinary producing and deejaying talents, is saddening. The reality that you will not be present for other monumental moments in their lives such as college graduations, weddings, births is even more heartbreaking. The thought that our beautiful daughter and handsome son haven’t had a male role model since you left, causes tears to well in my eyes almost every single day. When our son comes to me asking questions only a man can authentically answer, I do my best to fill your shoes but I shouldn’t have to. When our daughter tells me that a young man she’s dating reminds her of you in the way he protects her, it’s bittersweet. Bitter for obvious reasons and sweet because she at least has someone who, for that moment, is a positive reminder of you. You left us to pick up a million shattered pieces. You left me to raise two human beings that we created together, on my own and it hasn’t always been a breathtakingly gorgeous emotional walk in the park. There have been and will be countless nights I shut myself in and weep silently in my pillow so not to cast any more of a crushing burden on our children. Why couldn’t you have been strong enough to pull through the rough times? Why couldn’t you have in the darkest of hours, seen their four impressionable eyes staring back at you, counting on you to be the protector as you’d always been? Where did the tragic turn in the journey begin and ultimately end? Why did you let go of this thing called life? Was there something I could have done or, anyone for that matter, to change your mind? Is it unfair of me to call you weak, curse your ashes and regret the day I met you? Absolutely because obviously, you felt an indescribable hopelessness in which I simply cannot fathom. This tragedy has taught me, albeit a process, not to project so much but to lead with compassion, understanding and empathy. One never knows how rough someone’s terrain is until they too walk on that very terrain in that someone’s shoes. Just because there’s a smile on someone’s face doesn’t always mean their spirit shares that very sentiment. Who am I to judge you? Will I still have my moments of anger, sadness, confusion and a whole bunch of feelings and emotions I sometimes choose not to control just so I can allow myself to feel organically, versus distract myself and become numb? The answer is a resounding yes. I’m human and I’ll always wish you were here to see our babies, who are now young adults. Watching them triumphantly maneuver through this cold world we live carrying the legacy of you not being here on their backs, assures me they are resilient and in time, they will be just fine. They are truly champions and my hero and heroine. I cannot help but acknowledge and credit you though for most of what you instilled in them during the brief time you had in their world, which contributed to the stand up and strong human beings that they are. Thank you for that because outside of God’s love, those very attributes are the things that have enabled them to keep moving forward and upward, even when the light is so dim at the end of the tunnel. Not a day goes by in which we don’t share a story and/or a laugh about you and despite it all, you are terribly missed. I know that it will never be easy but each day, it will get easier. Continue to rest in peace.