Packing for a trip… One I’m taking without you. Again.
Driving to your home town. For the first time without you.
The long drive. Doing all the driving myself. The sun shining when we pull in, through the streets of Altamont. Always with it’s welcoming arms for us.
Your name. Tim Gaige. In the newspaper. On the sign outside the American Legion. Your face. In photos on the walls. At the house you grew up in, in the banquet hall.
I feel you everywhere here. I see you in the faces of your family. Your parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Always I see you in their faces: your children. The three tiny people you loved more than life itself. The job you loved the most: being their dad. How proud you always were to bring them here, to bring me here, your hometown. I see us spending Christmas here, going to the park, the Church, late night walks to Stewarts for ice cream after the kids went to bed.
Today was beautiful. The family reunions. People meeting in person for the first time. The kids getting to play together. Your best friends from Virginia and Massachusetts making the pilgrimage, getting to see your hometown for the first time. My siblings first trip to Altamont. Your brother. Your cousins.
It was beautiful and I feel you here. See you around every corner. Hear your voice. See your smile. Hear your laugh.
Two years ago we came this very same weekend to get our dog from his summer trip to Altamont. Our fall trip to your hometown for all the things you loved about fall: the foliage, the apple picking and cider, the apple cider donuts. How you loved to come here in the Fall. It’s easy to believe this is the weekend we might have come if you were with us. If life was normal. If last May never happened.
We are here. You are with us. But not the way I want.
Today was beautiful, but it was overwhelming.
Overwhelming in a way I think it will take me a long time to process.
It was your celebration of life done the Altamont way, and other than you not wanting a fuss made about you, I know you would have loved it.
Thank you for all that you gave me when you brought me here ten years ago, my love.