Baby, I miss you so much it hurts.   I was seventeen and I thought you were the sun - because everything has revolved around you and happily so since then. From the moment I met you - remember?  It was the love you see in the movies and it didn't just last for a short period.  It has lasted decades.  I have loved you fiercely and I have loved and known you more than anyone.   You said I have been the only one who knows who you really are.  

Remember that time we spent New Year's on the beach?  Remember eating at that restaurant by the water, clams from a pail.  What a mess.  There has been a million moments and adventures and I have abundant gratitude for each one.   Remember Golds Gym by my house?  Afternoons of workouts, Star Trek New Generation and Mac and cheese your specialty - a la' Danny.  Remember our first date?  You cooked my dinner and I watched you and soaked up every minute.  Remember when my dad gave you his vintage Jeep to take me to my prom?  I think you were more excited about the Jeep and the top down than the prom itself.  We left early and walked and talked on the beach.  Barefoot and a tux - God you were beautiful and I never wanted anyone else.  

Remember the camping trips with friends?   "Walk it off" "Who stepped on a duck" are still running jokes.  Remember we were going to have tees made...that no one but our group would understand?  Maybe we should have.

Remember eloping?  Just you and I barefoot in the park on the gulf where I had my childhood birthdays.  You said it was as it should be.  Remember we had to stop the vows because I was overwhelmed and couldn't stop crying.  You smiled and waited.  God I miss you. 

Remember when we adopted our son?  You never even paused.  It was right and you always loved him as your own.  Remember when the three of us moved to Colorado Springs and made a go of it?  So many adventures there - climbing, hoisting a kiddo and new puppy up boulders - pretty much the Colorado parent's way.  I miss that.  Derek remembers and deeply cherishes every moment of it.  He has turned into an incredible young man.  

Remember when I told you we were going to have a baby girl?  We had always known what her name would be.  She always had you wrapped around her finger and rightfully so - she is amazing.  We moved up north in hopes for a good family life.  We never belonged but we made it work.  We both longed for the sea.  You put everything you had into being a father and making a home for us though in the midwest.  You worked on the house or played with the kids.    It was the most important thing to you.  You never came home from work and sat down with a beer.  You never wanted to.  You came home, kissed me and went out to play.   And the kids remember that.  They remember waking you up way too early on a Saturday mornings for pancakes and talk of the adventure for the weekend - bike rides, "hunting" in the woods, which was really just talk of Heffalumps and imaginary animals, golfing trips, movies out with a friend.  

Remember heading out to Washington state for a job?  Remember rain forrests, caves, rollerblade and bike trails?  Olympic National Park and the black bear on the trail and wondering where the momma bear was.  

Remember when I was pregnant with our youngest son and you got sick?  It was devastating but you were the bravest man I ever met and you never let us worry.  I know you felt horrible after chemo but sat with the kids anyway.  You watched them play video games or read aloud.  Even sick you were there in the moment with them.

Remember when he was born?  We even named him to mean new beginning and we did begin again.  You were well, or so we thought.  There was still no work in town and you took a project manager job and said for us not to be apart.  You wanted us with you, so we went and oh, the adventures we had.

Little one has these memories of traveling with your job for his childhood.  Remember the farm in Maryland?  We called it our farm, we were there so much.  Remember how much you fell in love with history and the abundance of stories in DC?  Remember our favorite road there?  The one that runs by Georgetown, our favorite DC place?  Remember how we would sit in traffic from Gaithersburg to DC and just smiling because it was just a beautiful area and we were thankful to be there together.  Remember Turkey trail - meeting you there after work, changing into your hiking shoes and just decompressing after your day.  Remember endless road trips to see historical places and we could feel the history and made us proud of being American.  You engulfed yourself in history books and biographies.  You wanted more of that.  Remember how amazing autumn was there?  Glorious sights to be seen and we never sat inside.  We were never still. In a good way.  It's like you knew you had to see everything now.

Remember when you worked in Arlington?  Remember seeing snipers, Blackhawk helicopters and getting lost and being in front of the pentagon?  Scary but thrilling and we laughed.  We laughed so much, I think you laughed more when we were out on adventures.  You were free - free from work, your extended family pressures and just free to be.  

Remember the night walks on the beach in Myrtle Beach?  Crabs, jellyfish, glow-in-dark games of catch and so much laughing.  

You had the remodel job in Myrtle Beach.  It wasn't a long job but you told them you had to have a place for all of us.   You didn't want to experience it without us.  Remember, strawberries and sunshine mornings? Sardine dip with beer on the patio and tan legs? 

  I remember you worked through the night while the restaurant was closed and met us across the street at the beach and boggie boarded with the kids.  How did you do that?  I know you were exhausted.  You were always incredible like that.  You were the strongest man I ever knew.  Remember it all?

Oh, remember the time you had quick trips to Texas and you took us with you?  You were in love with San Antonio, Austin and thought Texas was the most soulful place you had been.  We should have done more historical sites.  They were quick trips, I know, but we should have done more.

Remember staying in that cottage at that million dollar horse farm in Lexington?  God, that was beautiful.  We fed apples from the trees to the racehorses every night.  They loved us, or maybe just loved the apples?  They would run alongside the kids at the fence.  I walked five miles every morning and spent that thanking God for it all.  We even got to stay a bit longer.  We watched Dreamer on DVD with the kids and dreamed of a racehorse life.  We decide we probably would just hang out and ride and play with the horses and not stress them out be racing.  So maybe we weren't cut out for the horse race life.   The Harley ride that I was nervous on because you went way too fast and that place on the river was a find and you wanted to go again with the kids - music, food and sunshine.   You and Kenzi rode every chance you could and she was never nervous.  She is her father's daughter.  She is so much like you - in every good way.  

Remember Alabama?   You loved it of course.  You rode your Harley that you had treated yourself to.  You rode to work and every single chance you got.  Remember when Kenzi and I went home to check on our house and water plants and such and you got the weekend to yourself with little one?  You bought him a bow and arrows at Bass Pro Shop and rode the back way home with him on the back of your bike.  Remember how shocked I pretended to be?  I wasn't really and Kenzi and I already knew you would. We just made a bet on how long before we were out of the apartment that you would wait.  Remember, The afternoons at the salt water pool?  

Remember when you fell in love with Boulder?  It was a great project and you even got us into a place the day before Thanksgiving.  The sunroof blew off and we had leaves blowing through the kitchen Thanksgiving morning.   We laughed and drank our coffee while the guy fixed it.  You had fallen in love with climbing when my brother taught you in Austin and you were nuts for it.  You joined the climbing gym and went with the kids in Boulder every time you could.  You loved it and felt so strong.  It felt good.  Remember the road trips to Red Feather?  Back to see the Garden of the Gods so little one could see it?  Remember tacos and coffee at that place we loved so much?  You know where it is.  Remember the daily hikes?  There was always a new one.   You were relaxed and talked much then.  We dreamed of building a cabin in the woods and hiding from the world.  It had to have UPS access and a suitable road for your Harley, but still...we would sit on the porch drinking a beer in the mountains.  Remember that time we just hiked too far with the new rescue doggie and little one.  I think we forgot that how ever far you hike - you still have to go back.  Kenzi and I ran the trail laughing the entire way back down the mountain to the truck.  I don't even know how we found where you were waiting with the dog and kiddo.  We must have sensed you.   Remember that time up the mountain with Kenzi?  Something about peanut butter and the trip down that made you both laugh every single time anyone brought up peanut butter.  I never did get the entire story and it's probably best I don't.  Oh God, I miss you Danny. 

I was a bit mad at you.  I was mad you got sick again.  I was mad at the mess we're in. I was mad you left me to deal with your family, you know they hate me.  I was mad you didn't stay.   You had to go?  I don't understand and I will never teach our children that life is fair. None of it is.  What a stupid thing to teach a child.  I was always taught to be fair and be good and it will come back to you.  I'm calling bullshit.  I miss you Danny.  You don't understand.  I begged and pleaded with God to change his mind and restore you.  I am mad at Him a bit for that.  I did know...inside...that He would not.  I knew.  Kenzi told me.  You know how intuitive she is (to say the least).  I was still mad.  I am left with a young son to raise.  It's not fair.  Derek is grown and is so thankful that he got his entire childhood with you.  Kenzi needs you.  You left. She has your strength and work ethic.  She didn't leave you.  She stayed.  She put her life on hold for a year and a half.  She has given up so much to help us all - hockey practices, lessons for little one, trips to Chicago for treatments and keeping the fort up (is that the expression?) so that I could be with you there.  I hate Chicago. I never want to go again.  

 I remember every single detail of you and our story together.   You have been everything to me.  I want you to know I miss you every moment of every day and always will.  You are just a part of me.  Your children miss you.  I cannot even put into words how much.  We were always a different family.  We were always closer, not in a co-dependant way but in a intrinsic connection that cannot be explained to most people.  We were never like other families and we never wanted to be.  We never got tired of each other (too much anyway ;). It was soulful.  Does that make sense?  We were just connected and will always be.  No matter what.  

I could write for weeks about all the moments that I haven't mentioned here.  I don't want to. I'll keep them between us.  I just wrote mostly the ones from the past few years because we lived differently and almost in a hurry to have all-the-fun because you never know and there is no guarantee.  I love you with all my being and miss you.  It's not enough to say.  I'm not that eloquent to say all I have to and I'm tired.  It was a year of hell for you - and us too.  The things you have endured should have never happened.  I am thankful you are not suffering.  People always say that and now I know why.  You haven't been yourself in so very long - two years.  I miss your smell.  You haven't smelled like you.  Tell God you must watch over us and that you must watch Noah grow.  He is amazing and he knows you are watching.  Derek had a dream about you.   It was a different realm and you said you were good.  It was real and I'm not surprised by the dream.  There is so much we do not understand.

A million memories - kisses, hugs, pancakes mornings, road trips, bike rides, hikes, canoe rides, Harley rides, drinks over the water, dreams, arguments, walks, cooking together, climbs, movie nights and talks. 

Danny, I miss you.

Note:  Yes, I know the punctuation is awful on this.  


Anonymous said…
God bless you and your family. I will be praying or you all.
Susie Buetow said…
Oh sweetie my heart is breaking for you and your family. I know we’ve never met irl but know that I’m thinking and praying for you. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve endured. I’m so sorry that the kiddos no longer have him. I’m so sorry that you are without your soulmate. Praying for peace. I wish I was your neighbor. I’d bring you some lemons & strawberries. Xoxo Susie
JoniBugK said…
Although your story is so sad, it is beautiful. You had a love and a life with Danny many of us can only dream of. I’m glad you had a good man and sorry for your loss.
D. Mora said…
Thank you for sharing your beautiful adventures. Praying for you always
Carleen Jansson said…
Beautiful tribute. Sorry for your loss.
Stacy Lane said…
My heart is breaking for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. I am so sorry for your loss.
Yolanda said…
Nicki, you probably don't remember me but many many years ago I brought a dinner to your dear family after the birth of one of your children. We shared having daughters named McKenzie and later one of our other daughters became your babysitter. We now live in Tennessee and Steph sent me the notice of Danny's passing. I just read your tender tribute, and though we ache deeply for your loss, we cherish the precious life you shared. Not many find such a lasting love. I pray that you can forgive the wrongs of this world and give thanks that this life is not our heaven. We have that promise ahead and the rejoicing in the reunion, the rejoicing in seeing Jesus's face and the rejoicing in the rest of your story together!! I can't wait....
Sending you many tears and much love!! Yolanda
Nicki said…
Thanks to everyone for your kindness and to so many who emailed and DM'd us, as well. Thank you and your continued prayers would be very much appreciated.
Nicki said…

Yolanda, How are you and your family? Thank you so very much for the kind words. Incredibly appreciated. Yes, I'm working on processing...whatever that means. And working on forgetting the difficult things and people. Thank you so much. Hug your family for me and tell Stephanie, thank you.