“Everything that surrounds you is temporary. Only the love in your heart will last forever.”
I awoke with a strange feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had taken a vacation day to run errands. I went to a store that I’d never been to before. As I was driving home, I came to a cemetery on Harrodsburg Road. I pulled in.
16 years ago a true soul mate died: James “Jim” Thompson Brown. I’d been living with Jim until just before he learned he was ill in January. I was into my final undergrad semester, but he didn’t want me to move back to help care for him. He insisted that I finish unhindered. The semester before, several of us had persuaded him to take that last course needed for his bachelor’s degree. He did, and we were going to walk our graduations together. I bought his cap and gown when I bought my own. When I delivered them, he told me the cancer had moved into his brain. He died on May 3. I walked alone on May 10.
This was a life altering event for me. You think you won’t forget such a date, but with time, surprisingly, you can. For many years now I haven’t noticed May 3 as anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know why this year circumstance and intuition collided to remind me what today was, or to lead me to that cemetery. Before today, I’d only been to Jim’s grave once since we buried him. So, I sat down and had a talk with him. Nothing heavy, just ‘hey man, I sure do miss you.’
I stopped and bought a white azalea to plant in his honor. I did this with fruit trees in 2009 when my paternal grandparents died. I found that it made me feel good to honor them with something so beautiful yet changeable. Each spring those dormant trees come to life, and I feel my ancestors surround me. I smile every time. This azalea will produce gorgeous white blooms every spring, and as I step out my back door, I will say hello to Jim, and I will smile. It might take 16 years, but you do eventually heal. I’m so grateful to have had him in my life, no matter how short the time.