Dear Jakey,

At the risk of being highly repetitive, I must start by telling you how much it sucks without you. I never can really tell when it will become harder or when it will seem a little better but right now I am in the middle of a very hard stretch. I haven’t been sleeping well and I am just sad. I want so much to be able to write you about something positive but the last few days have not felt overly positive. At first I was getting upset because I didn’t see the cardinal for so long. And Ethan told me he saw the cardinal (you) while Daddy and I were in Aruba. And then over the weekend Daddy saw the cardinal. And I hate to admit it but I really was kind of mad about it. But then I saw you on my run Tuesday morning – right on East Ave. I wanted it to make me feel happier but it really didn’t. I mean it was kind of a relief to see you again and I felt better but it wasn’t instant happiness like I had sort of hoped. Which leads me to another issue – I had grown accustomed to and maybe even taken for granted that feeling I had when I was training for the half marathon. I got myself pretty connected to you on those long runs and I know you got me through those 13.1 miles. The last two days though I have had the shittiest runs and I think that has even pissed me off more than anything. I just get used to my weird new rituals that I create to feel close and connected to you and when they don’t work out the way I want then it just really sucks. It is such a roller coaster and I know it is made worse by my lack of sleep. I remember this feeling from when you used to have all those bad nights and I wouldn’t sleep much.  I remember feeling so desperate and then I would realize that it was just exhaustion and once I slept a whole night I would feel better. I hope that happens soon. Maybe even tonight.

Anyways, in the midst of all this sadness, I am hanging on to two things. One goes back to a letter I wrote you a while ago when I told you that I would periodically write to you about people here on Earth that are pretty spectacular. I wrote to you about Miss Briana. And now I want to spend a little bit of time telling you about Miss Trish. Did you know (you probably do) that just about every day since you died she has written me an email? Some are short, others are long. Some are about her memories of you, others are about when she feels your presence now. Some make me laugh, others make me cry. But they all make me feel good because it is a reminder that you are in so many people’s hearts and memories. And that does help. And she also sometimes makes meaning of things I write to you about in a way that doesn’t piss me off. She is just such a good person and we are all lucky to have her. I look back now and think that there really was some special meaning to that amazing picture of you and her on that afternoon before your first seizure. It is like you knew she was someone who would always be strong and you made sure that when you posed with her and looked so damn cute that she would always be a part of our lives. I like to think of it as all part of the journey.

And the other thing that I am hanging on to happened today. Ethan and I went to Dairy Haus for an ice cream cone after school. Another example of something I try to do with Ethan now. Anyways, as we were getting ready to leave some of Ethan’s buddies came and we ended up staying for a while more. And it ended up being really nice – just being out and talking to others. One of the moms was the one who hugged me at church on Ash Wednesday. I think I told you about that or even wrote you the letter she wrote me – I am not sure. Anyways, on that day she thought that maybe you hugged me through her. So today we talked about you. And it was nice. And then there you were – the cardinal flew by – which made me think that you liked the way things turned out this afternoon, too. But the weirdest and best part is that when she asked me if I knew about red cardinals – I didn’t really know what she was talking about. I feel like you became the red cardinal when I was training for the half marathon and I started seeing more of you around. And I even joked with Daddy that I was being stalked by a red cardinal. Anyways, she told me that red cardinals are truly symbols of people who have passed and how they come back. She said it a lot more eloquently than I am now but it was pretty awesome.  And while my mood is not altogether better I am trying hard to hang on and be strong – for you, for me and for all of us. I miss you so very much.

With so much love,