I still put cheese on my burgers the way you told me to, and honestly, it’s not because it’s better that way. The truth is, I never really cared that much about cheese, but you decidedly did. You hated to waste even a morsel by letting it melt off your burger so I let you “show me how it’s done.”

It’s crazy because you did that a lot. In fact, you had this amazing ability of showing me the “right” way of doing things, and a lot of times, they actually stuck. Again, not because you were constantly right, but you were constantly convicted. You believed in what you said with your whole heart. It’s how you got by in life and made people love you despite the fact you so often liked, scratch that, LOVED to tell people how to do things. But it was always with the idea that you could better someone.

You “bettered” me.

In a million ways, I am better for having known you.

I can’t tell you how many times I glance at my phone or pick it up to call you. I can’t tell you how many times there is a situation I want to tell you about. I can’t tell you how many times I want to have you tell me how to do something the right way.

I miss that you had my back without ever caring if I was truly right or wrong, you just defended and made me feel protected against all of life’s injustices, real or perceived.

I miss your laugh and your voice. You laughed with your whole body. You would throw your head back, bend forward, and clap your hands. It was usually at my expense, but I could never stay mad. You always told me it was how we worked because I never got mad. It wasn’t that I didn’t, it’s just you would laugh and, against my better judgment, I would join in.

I called you Santa Clause when you laughed. You hated that. But your eyes twinkled, your dimples were merry, cheeks rosy, and nose like a cherry . . . and you know what your belly did!

Your voice used to change depending on who you were talking to. I loved that I knew that about you. I knew who you were talking to just by the way you spoke, and I knew how much you liked them by the way you laughed.

I still can’t listen to my voicemail even though I know your voice is there.

I miss your voice.

The hey pretty lady, the I love you and Zander, the miss yous. They are all there, but I can’t listen to them. I can’t listen because I am afraid it would remind me that all I have now are leftover I love yous. It would remind me that leftovers are never as good as the real thing, and I will never have the real thing again.

So since I can’t hear the real you, see the real you, or feel the real you, I settle for looking at your pictures on the mantle. I keep your laugh and voice in my heart. And I continue to put cheese on my burger the way you told me to.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Valeria Tipton

I am Valeria Tipton but my favorite name by far is mommy. I am a 35-year-old widow with a 5-year-old son. Together we are navigating the unexpected loss of my husband, but we are determined to find the hallelujah during this heartbreaking moment. I decided to write about this journey as transparently as possible so when God moves in our lives it would be evident that He is faithful in His promises.