This morning Dune and I sat in your chair. The leather chair I promised you on our third anniversary in 2011, when we lived among cheap Ikea furniture and hand-me-downs and were too broke to invest in something so luxurious. The chair we finally splurged on 5 years later, after you got sick and needed a better place to read and write. We sat in your chair and looked out as the sun rose above the water. We sat in your chair, with the window open, feeling the cool breeze and the warm sun. We sat in your chair and experienced the morning exactly how you would have done. Quietly, thoughtfully, reflectively. We sat in your chair and wept.
It’s been 4 weeks.
I still keep waiting for you to walk in the door. Still reflexively grabbing for my phone to call you. Still reaching my hand over to hold you in bed. I still refer to myself as a “we” even though I am now just a “me.” We have been a unit, a team. We have been an unstoppable force. We have been a family. How do I go back to being just me?
But, because of you, I am not alone. The people closest to you - your family, your best friends, your core - have become my greatest sources of strength. I can’t possibly understand the cruelty of you being taken from me, from all of us, but I will forever be grateful for both the relationships you encouraged me to form when you were here and also the ones you left behind when you were taken from us. I am not okay. But because of your depth and nurturing of relationships, because of your connection, I have an army that looks out for me. One that allows me to laugh and cry and get really, really angry. One that allows me to just be.
That’s because of you.
A couple weeks before you passed away, you told us that the meaning of your name is a bridge: “Bradford literally means bridge!” You have no idea the bridge you are. Your work in the city, your passion for inclusive growth, your thesis on the divide at Alter Road, your relationships, your friends and family, your presence. You were a bridge, connecting us all in unimaginable ways. You are my bridge.
It’s been 4 weeks and even though I feel pain and loss in ways I didn’t know existed, I also know that my life is more connected, more meaningful, and more full of joy because of you. Because of you, I will spend my days trying to live more courageously.
Thank you for the greatest love story I’ll ever know.