Ten years ago tomorrow, July 16, I had to make the most difficult phone call of my life to Courtney in Iowa. We had rehearsed what I would say to him if I had to call him but we never thought I would actually have to make the call. I couldn’t get ahold of him on his cell phone so I called the college. I got in touch with some random man that worked there and explained the situation. That poor man had to go to the gym and find Courtney’s wrestling team and they had to tell him where Courtney was. He then had to call him and tell him to call me at the hospital. I said just what we had rehearsed, “Can you come home right now?” Then I made the smartest decision of my life and I put him on the phone with you. He got to talk to you and I was scared that would be the last time he would ever get to speak to you. I wish I had written down the name of the man at Luther College. I wish I could thank him. Thank him for taking my call seriously because he didn’t have to. If he hadn’t taken my call seriously I would have sat waiting for Courtney to call. So I’m sending it out to the universe – THANK YOU random man at Luther College. Thank you! Courtney drove home and so many people were already at the hospital. I met him in the parking lot and took him straight to your room and shut the door behind us. We spent the next 24 hours by your side. Twenty four hours later, on July 17 at around 4:00 in the afternoon, you left this Earth. Being in the room holding your hand as you took your last breath was the one of the hardest yet one of the most beautiful experiences.
In two days we will mark the 10th anniversary of your passing. So many things have happened in 10 years. We have moved several times. We have changed jobs. There have been births, deaths, weddings, etc. Of course the most important to you would have been the birth of your grandson, Cael. You would be so so proud of him! He is so stinking smart. He has the nicest manners. He is caring & sweet & loving. He loves squirrels because of you! He loves blueberries just like you! I tell him about you and he knows who you were. I have a picture of you & Courtney from our wedding day beside his bed. Some nights we tell you good night before we turn off the lights. He is convinced that you are in Heaven taking care of our dog, Winston, that we had to put down and that one day Winnie will bring you home. Courtney will be gone on July 17 because he will be working but Cael and I will celebrate your life. We are going to plant flowers in your memory, we’re going to release 10 balloons in your memory, we’re going to read the book I wrote about you for him and we’re going to watch the only video I have that he can hear your voice in. I can’t wait for him to hear your voice.
Right now Cael is with Sharon. He loves his Auntie Sharon! She has filled in doing things with him and for him that you would have if you were here. She even got Grandma Hoard to leave Miltonvale….on a Sunday….to come meet Cael for the first time when he was born!! Cael spends a few days to a week with her every summer. I know that if you were here he would be at your house right now. He loves his Grammy & Papa Johnson and I know he loves his Grammy Shirley too. I’m not sure how much he really understands yet but I am proud that he does at least know who you were.
Courtney & I have had lots of ups and downs in our marriage. We survived losing you right after we celebrated our 1st anniversary so I know we can survive anything. We have survived lots of other problems. I told you that day in the hospital that I would take care of Courtney and that I would never leave him. I intend to keep that promise.
We miss you. We love you.