Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Hey Al,

Today’s your 47th birthday. I feel like I should have some kind of profound perspective to share about days like today. Like I should be able to wax poetic about loss and love and time and impermanence,

Today what I felt most was sadness. And anger. And I just really want to talk to you.

I spent last weekend in Kansas City with the cottage boys. We talked about you a lot. It was the kind of talking about you that felt natural—funny stories and memories, nostalgic laughter. On Monday, as I sat in the plane waiting to take off on my connection from Detroit, for the briefest moment I found myself thinking “I can’t wait to tell Al about this weekend.” 

I don’t have thoughts like that a lot any more, which makes me sad in and of itself. I suppose it means that I’m settling into this new reality, but it stung, and I was glad for a window seat that allowed me to look away and into nothing until I gathered myself again. You were so present in my mind during the time in KC that it only felt natural to look forward to telling you about it when I got home. I was glad to get home; your parents were here when Tobin brought me home from the airport. We ate together, and I was thankful for it, but it was you I wanted to tell silly stories to most of all.

Today was Tobin’s first day of his last semester of high school. Even as proud as you think you would be of him, it’s more. I try not to lean on him as an adult too much yet, but he is a great help. He’s in the midst of college application season and making big plans. Evan just finished his first semester of high school. He did great work in the classroom and on the soccer field, and he has his sights set on varsity goalie as soon as next season. His heart is as big and kind as when he was little, and he maintains a clear love for others that hasn’t wavered, even as he navigates what can be a big, mean high school. Lauren has jumped into clubs and activities and has the most generous gift-giving heart I’ve ever seen in someone her age. She is magnetic, and I love hearing her opinions on the music she’s discovering and listening to. She advocates for herself and speaks honestly about difficult things—I don’t think she knows how thankful I am that she is unapologetically herself, even when it would be “easier” to conform to what others might want of her. 

All three of them are beautiful, evolving versions of themselves. I see much of who each of them is becoming as fruit of you and your work and love and care. They are each distinct, dynamic blessings in the lives of so many people. Through them I feel like I see and hear you most distinctly, which on days like today is maybe the greatest blessing of all.

I’m navigating a paradox of knowing how proud you would be of each of them and feeling angry that you’re not here to see it. You’re the person who has always helped me talk through things like this. 

Meggie is here with me, curled up against the cold, or maybe her own sense that we’re all missing a crucial part of who each of us is. I love you, Allison, and I miss you more than I even realize myself sometimes. Thank you for more than I could ever list or say.

No comments: