Today, only for a second, I smelled a campfire, and I had a whole moment with you. I had to stop walking, to stop myself from crying.
I smell campfires all the time, and I love them. They remind me of everything I love in life. But that fleeting second, I only thought of you, and I was overwhelmed. When the scent was gone, I looked at the sunset, and I saw you there, too.
I think about you all the time, and I miss you more than I ever thought I would. I thought it would be easier, but it has been four years since we lost you, and it seems like it just happened. It’s still your house. It’s still your school. It’s still your name in my phone. As if you will call me, and I will get to hear your voice on the other end.
My heart hurts knowing that it won’t be you.
I have been writing a lot lately, and every time I feel blocked, I think of you. I hear your encouraging words in my head. I think about all the stories you told me growing up.
I have this one memory of you from when I was six or seven. My favorite game was freeze dance. You took a fake microphone and sang the song with me, behind the beat and off key. You danced along and froze too late for the music. But I remember it so vividly. I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. Years later, you let me teach you the “Hoedown Throwdown” just because.
You taught me how to drive a boat, but you didn’t get to see me learn to drive a car. You fueled my love for kayaking, but you never got to see me take Morro Bay in a single. You taught me how to put up a tent, but you weren’t there the last time I stargazed outside of it. You are the reason I fell in love with writing, and you are the reason I chose to pursue that career.
It is hard that four years later I still cry as hard as the first day. Now that is a day I remember clearly, and it is a day I wish I could forget.
I never got to say goodbye.
Sometimes I think that is a good thing. Goodbyes are hard, and I think it would hurt differently if got to see you that last time. But I need closure, and I can’t get it. Maybe I will spend the rest of my life having moments like this that break me down and leave me crying in my room. Maybe one day, I will get a flash of a memory and smile because of it, not feel sad. You wouldn’t want me to be sad. I just can’t help it sometimes.
I refuse to believe it was your time to go, but I cannot bring you back. I have only happy memories of you. I cannot think of a second when I ever thought you were less than amazing.
Thank you for giving me so much to look forward to in life. Thank you for showing me the path to my future. Thank you for teaching me such important life lessons–and such important Ashley Life lessons. Thank you for being a constant reminder that I am worth something, that I am worth everything.
I love you, and I miss you every day.