Had I known that we would never see one another again, I would have taken greater care last month to spend a few more moments, lingering in the shade, chatting and laughing at the picnic.
Had I known that you would never again come flying across the room toward us, laughing, and doing that terrible impersonation of Jerry Lewis - "Hey LAAAADEEEEE!" I would have made you do it a hundred, no a million more times, so that I can never forget.
Had I known that you were going to drop dead of a massive heart attack yesterday morning, I would have found the time for all of the things we were *supposed* to do together; I would have never taken it for granted that you were always going to be there.
You weren't supposed to die. You are my age, and I am no where near ready to die. I remember what you said, earlier this year with awful clarity:
If I have to go, I want to go with a smile on my face!
I don't know what I am going to miss the most: your laugh, your smile, or your incredible way of looking at the world as a giant playground just waiting for us. I know I will miss the passion that you brought to everyday routine. I know that your dear husband, Bob, will never stop missing you. I know that we will never stop missing seeing the light in his eyes that shone because of you.
Bob said that he wanted us to all wear the crazy tie-dyed shirts, and outrageous outfits that you loved so much for your memorial service on Thursday. He said that this must be a celebration of you, that we must all remember that your bright and shining spirit will live on as long as there is laughter and sunshine in the world. He is so incredibly, terribly brave. I almost cannot bear to look at him, at his face; although he is doing all the things he is supposed to, he is not really *here*. He is moving, talking, eating, all by rote - he is an empty shell of the man we know and love as "Bob", because you are not by his side.
I know that you, your spirit, the essence of who you were, is not gone, but the Melinda that gave hugs and kisses as easily as she breathed; the Melinda who loved our own Twinkle so much, the Melinda who made our dear Bob so very, very happy... is gone.
In time, Bob will "recover". The lost, empty look will, given enough years, begin to fade from his eyes. One day, he will laugh out loud again, probably at something that would have made you laugh too. He may even fall in love again, although I cannot imagine that there is any woman on earth who could ever begin to fill Bob with life the way you did. We will all go on, but we are all changed without you.
You were so special, to so many people. I hope and pray that wherever you are, you know that. I hope that you are as happy there, as you made us while you were here. I pray that someday, when I arrive where you are, you will be one of those waiting for me.
And if I'm correct, you'll be the one in the silly party hat, at the head of the conga line.