July 10, 2033
“Five years ago…” I started as my voice cracked. I sat in front Ian’s headstone and continued, “Five years ago today, I lost you Ian. I lost my best friend and my husband and I have never stopped thinking about you or loving you.
A lot has happened over the last several years and I know that you would want me to move on and be happy, but I gotta tell you that it wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time grieving and relied on my parents a lot to help me get through.
After our babies were born, I struggled the most. They were a blessing I know and I loved them with all my heart, but it also hurt as they reminded me of you and knowing that you would never get to meet them and hold them. Your parents have really enjoyed spending time with them and I let them go over at least one weekend a month for a night or two, which they like. I know they tell them stories of you.
Can you believe they are a little over four years old? Little Ian looks just like you and is my little daredevil. He loves climbing things and is always getting into mischief. Isabelle is the complete opposite and loves to look at her books, sing along to music, and helps me around the house.
About a year and a half ago or so, I met someone, Ian. It wasn’t something I planned and I had no desire to date as I wanted to focus on our children, but it happened. I was actually grocery shopping with the kids, which is a feat in itself, and had a hard time gathering the bags into the car and almost lost the cart as it went rolling through the lot.
I had the kids in their car seats already and by the time I caught up to the cart; it hit someone else’s car. He wasn’t upset and laughed at me when I told him what happened. He helped me back to my car and loaded the rest of the bags into the trunk for me.
Even though he saw the kids in the backseat, he asked me to join him for lunch, which I was going to decline, but I knew the kids needed to eat and I was hungry, so I said ‘yes.’ We followed him to the café nearby and spent quite awhile talking. He interacted with Ian and Isabelle really well and I haven’t seen them laugh and chatter as much as they had before.
His name is Jeremy and he is a few years older than us. I didn’t recognize him right away, but his younger sister, Jenny, was in our class in high school and a co-worker of mine. He moved to Bismarck after he finished his fellowship and became a doctor at the same hospital I work at. Our paths had never crossed, that we knew of, until that day and we still laugh about it.
We dated for about six months when he asked me to marry him. I was hesitant at first because of my vow to you, but both my parents and yours encouraged me to say ‘yes’ to him and that you would want me to be happy again with someone else. He was also very good with the twins and that was important to me.
The twins call him ‘Daddy’ and he has since adopted them after our wedding a year ago. They will always know that you are their father and Jeremy completely understands my feelings on that and respects them.
We are adding to the family. I am currently five months pregnant with a little boy and Isabelle is really excited to be a big sister. Ian isn’t quite so sure about being a big brother yet, but I think he will be as time goes on.
Jeremy doesn’t want me to work so hard, so I did cut back to part-time for right now and this gives me more time with the twins. They start four-year-old kindergarten in the fall, which I’m not sure I’m ready for, but they are.
You would be so proud of them and how smart they both are. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and prevent you from attending that fire so you could be with us right now. I know fate had other plans, but it doesn’t stop me from missing you.
You will always have a piece of my heart and soul for the rest of my life. Of course, I love Jeremy, but it is a different kind of love than I felt for you. I know I will have that with him one day and I thank God every day that he loves me and is patient with me.”
I paused for minute as I let some tears fall from my eyes as I leaned against his headstone. “Mommy, Mommy” I heard Isabelle and Ian as they ran up to me and wrapped their little arms around me.
I leaned back and pulled them both onto my lap and hugged them back. I looked up and saw Jeremy leaning against a tree giving us some space and smiled at him. He returned my smile with a beautiful smile of his own.
“Why are you crying Mommy?” Isabelle asked me as she wiped my tears away. She sometimes acts years beyond her little four-year-old body and mind.
“I’m just a little sad right now sweetie, but I’ll be OK,” I reassured her as I pushed her hair behind her ear and gave her a smile. “What are you two doing here?”
“We didn’t want to wait in the car no more Momma, so we came to find you,” Ian said.
“I see,” I replied with a smirk. “I did say I would only be gone a few minutes.”
“Mommy?” Isabelle asked looking up at me and I nodded for her to go ahead. “Is this Daddy Ian?” she asked me as she looked over to the headstone.
“Yes it is sweetie. This is your daddy’s resting place.” I tried to make it sound less scary for them, but I still have a hard time talking about his death to them.
“Can he hear you when you talk to him?” she asked me.
“I’d like to think he can hear me when I do. Why do you ask?”
“Can I talk to him?” I nodded and told her to go ahead. Ian laid his head on my shoulder while Isabelle turned around on my knee and faced the headstone and began talking. “Hi Daddy,” she began and looked back up at me and then over to Jeremy before returning to her conversation.
“I know you are watching over us ’cause Grandma tells us that you are. I want to tell you that Ian and I are taking good care of Mommy and our new Daddy is helping. Did you know that Ian wants to be like you when we grow up? I told him he needs to be careful ’cause I don’t want him to get hurt like you did. I want to be a nurse or a doctor so that if he does get hurt, I can make him not hurt again.”
As she paused, I realized I was no longer able to hold back my tears and even heard Ian sniffling against my shoulder. I felt a pair of arms wrap around me and knew that Jeremy was there to hold us. He kissed the back of my head as I closed my eyes as Isabelle finished talking.
“I know Mommy misses you and so does Grandma and Grandpa. They tell us lots of stories about you and how you are a hero to a lot of people. You are my hero too.” She paused again and looked up at me and Jeremy.
“I love you Daddy,” at that she climbed off my lap and kissed the headstone before climbing back on my leg and wrapping her arms around my neck.
“Come on, let’s go home,” I said. Jeremy took Isabelle off my lap and carried her, while Ian got up allowing me to stand up. Jeremy assisted me off the ground and then I picked up Ian and placed him on my hip.
Jeremy started walking back to the car while I turned around one last time. “Goodbye Ian,” I whispered, before turning around and following Jeremy.
When we caught up, he took my hand and led us to the car. After getting the twins in their seats, he came back to my side and wrapped his arms around me as I cried into his shoulder.
“Thank you for everything Jer,” I whispered through my tears.
“I can’t ever imagine what you are going through Sarah, but I will always be here for you and those two beautiful children in the back seat.”
“I love you,” I said looking up into his eyes.
He wiped my tears away and said, “I love you too.” He leaned down and kissed me before helping me into the car.
We drove home and settled the twins in for a nap. It didn’t take them long to fall asleep due their emotions from the day. I was pretty exhausted myself and curled up on the couch in Jeremy’s arms.
“Jeremy, thank you again for being with us today at the cemetery,” I started. “It was comforting knowing you were there even though I know you wanted to give me space.”
“Babe, I’ve told you before that I know how much he meant to you and I would never take him away. I’ll admit it isn’t easy to see you cry for him, but I know we are moving in the right direction.”
“We are and I am ready to keep going forward with you, the twins and this little one when he is born,” I said, rubbing my stomach. “I love you,” I finished as I leaned up for a kiss.
I found love when I was just a teenager and lost it when we needed to find ourselves. I had an amazing time with other men, but never felt the love I had with him. I found that love again only to lose it in a tragic accident and thought that was the end. I finally found love once again with the man I call my husband and my beautiful children and will never take it for granted again.
No matter what happens to me or where I go, I will always remember the old poem that says it best, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all…”