This week people will remind us it’s been ten years since you’ve left us.
Ten years since tragedy placed its ugly scar on our hearts.
They’ll remind us we’ve survived a decade without you.
And the lump in our throats brings back the pain like it was only yesterday.
Their recall on the timing since your sudden illness and untimely death will be accurate. Their words and their sentiment will be appreciated and absorbed into our souls. Their warm hugs and their phone calls will be received with gratitude.
The anniversary of that day will always be especially challenging for us.
But we hold on. And it’s thanks to you, Allan.
It’s been ten years since we lost the ability to call you to say hello and have you answer back. Ten years since we’ve felt your strong arms wrap around us in an embrace at the front door, and ten years since you’ve driven us to the lake.
But you are still here in our homes, still here in our hearts, still riding alongside us, as our silent passenger. And you remind us of that daily.
We still hear your loud footsteps thumping down the wooden staircase.
We still feel your intensity as we watch the Habs games together.
We still save you a seat at the table.
We still gather with you at Carl’s camp, we still remember the smell of your stale sweaty hockey gear and we still see you at night when we close our eyes, realer still than your photo on our bedside table, and truer still than seems imaginable.
And in that way you’ve never left us.
You’re not void in our stories, or in our lives’ greatest moments. You are not missing from our life’s narrative.
When your firstborn grandchild Dylan holds a hockey stick in his hands it’s with Sarah’s smile and your patient guided heart that he holds it.
When your eldest granddaughter Evey puts on a dance in the living room of their Cape Breton home, it’s with Jill’s exact free spirit- your sense of instilled confidence and spontaneity- that she does it.
When young sweet Caroline, named after the last dance you and Sarah shared, points to a picture and recognizes you as Grampy K, she does so because even though she’s only one year old and people tell us you’ve been gone for ten, you are still a daily household name and presence.
To us, you are still so very real.
You being gone is simply not our truth.
Not when we had so many beautiful shared years together making ends meet in the trailer camper in the sun. Not when we spent all those weekends road tripping to the ski hill, and all those evenings at the rink. Not when together, we shared such everlasting memories.
You can’t be gone if it’s you we think we of each time we christen the lake with a premature dive each spring.
You can’t be gone if it’s you we emulate every time that happens by producing a loud, slow clap.
You can’t be gone if it’s your name we toast to at the bonfire each night.
You are not gone to us.
You have missed so much in ten years, they will tell us. They will tell us how proud you would be to have walked your three girls down the aisle to marry kindhearted men each with a love of the game and a love of family. They’ll tell us how happy you’d be to see all three children and your devoted wife work toward admirable careers, and how overjoyed you’d be to have played on the floor alongside each of your three very loved and cherished grandchildren.
They’ll tell us about all that you’ve missed. They’ll tell us they wish you could have seen it all.
And from the bottom of our broken hearts today, we wish so too. Because today stings.
But we gather the strength you’ve instilled in us and we forge on, because you were nothing if not strong.
So it’s you that keeps us going.
We have lost so much, yes. But we have gained a moral compass in you, guiding us through each of life’s hurdles- and today is one of many we need you for. Because though today is dark and dark days still come, it’s on days like this we feel you most.
On days like this we hear your voice calling out, standing in the kitchen wearing your Habs hat, your blue Levi jeans and your black leather coat, slinging your hockey bag over your shoulder on the way out the door. We remember your smile.
Today and every day we will have moments of strength and of weakness, and either way, you will carry us through, just as you have for the past ten years.
They’ll tell us today it’s been ten whole years since you’ve left. Except for us, you’ve never gone at all.