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It’s been a couple of years.  A lot has changed since then… I probably wouldn’t have recognized my future self back then.  It actually seems a world away…so many experiences, so many people, so much change.  Reminiscing now I feel like I have completely changed who I am.  It’s not true, but that’s how it feels.  I am just so different.  My core self remains unaltered, but the way I interact with the world has continually evolved to the point of today.  My confidence is far greater.  My identity is stronger.  My inner goof no longer hides in public.  I am me now, rather than when I was a shell of who I was.  I am the way I am meant to be.  I feel free.  I am me.

When is then?  It’s not really anytime particularly, just when I was younger and much less mature than I am now. But there is a time I’m specifically thinking of…a time when I lost my grandfather.  Poppop and I never really became super close.  We were two very different people separated by time, experience, and life.  Still, our bond was unique.  I remember sitting in his room in the morning before elementary school, heating my small shivering body in front of his heater.  Every morning I use to sit in their while he watched the news.  And I remember the way he use to sit out on his rocker and watch the cars go by.  He was a true “people-watcher” well before Gettysburg introduced me to such a pastime.  He was my grandpa.  He was mine.

It’s interesting how these things come back up.  The past doesn’t haunt…it hits you unexpectedly like a 20ton Mack truck.  BAM!  It’s there, on top of you, and you are lost in its power.  O how quickly it began to rain.  The showers ran down and the land felt the purest rain in many a year.  A soft wind caressed my body, surrounding me in warmth and safety.  Rather than bring out the sun it only created a torrential downpour.

If only he could see me now!  How proud he would be…  Intelligent, dedicated, hard-working…I know he would be pleased.  The road has been long and none can deny it was filled with holes but the valleys are ending and I am looking into the sun.  His face is there…somewhere.  Is he looking down upon me, cognizant of the grief with which I now walk heavily?  No, I don’t think so.  Well honestly, I don’t know.  But it doesn’t matter, because he is there for me.  They all are.  So long as I never forget I will never be alone.  But that goes for everyone.  As long as love survives you will never be alone.  Remember that.  When the world is darkest, and you feel nothing but emptiness, don’t look into the past.  The past will provide no solace for those filled with sorrow.  Instead look inside yourself, for there lays the one true savior.  Love will last.  Only you can choose to let it leave.

I know he would be proud of me for all my accomplishments, but there was something which really got me.  It’s her.  It has to be.  I don’t know where I am going, but I know it feels right.  It feels strong.  It feels true.  And he will never get to see that.  I just imagined, for a moment, how I would never have the chance to return triumphant, with education in my mind, justice in my soul, and her love in my heart.  To him we can never walk, arms linked, with happiness spread across our faces.  But it’s not the truth, for he is out there.  When we walk into the sun, hearts light and airy, I know I will be making him so proud.

If you are watching, then know I miss you.  If you cannot see out of the abyss, then I will see for you.  I will see the world.  I will shape the world.  I will make you proud.

I love you.

I dedicated this to the late Milton Kendrick, beloved grandfather.  Yesterday you left us, today you guide us, tomorrow you may welcome us.

P.S.  Thank you Mom…I realize more and more everyday how lost I would be without you.  You really are my hero, for no one can turn me around quite like you can.