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Dear Mom,

Time is a strange thing. It’s impossible to believe that tomorrow you will have been gone from our world for three years, yet sometimes it feels like forever since I’ve seen your face. And believe it or not, there are still moments when it doesn’t seem real at all that I’ll never hold your hand again. It’s those moments, when they strike, that move me to tears.

The years have dulled the pain, but there are still moments when it cuts deep and the wound feels fresh and unbearable. There are a million things I wish I could share with you – oh how proud you would be of Jess. The things she’s accomplished, yes, but more importantly the loving, kind, bright, introspective, and passionate human being she is. In the past few years, I’ve seen her blossom like never before. You would be so happy. I see a lot of you in her.

You know, we went to Italy this fall. That was a trip the three of us meant to take, but it never happened. We felt you with us, though. We saw so much that you would have adored – Florence would have been your favorite place, I’m certain of that. It felt fitting that we spend your birthday in a spiritual place, so we toured the Vatican that day. Such beauty – overwhelming to the eyes, the mind, and the heart. How I wish we’d had time to take that trip together before Alzheimer’s came into our lives. Tomorrow is never promised, though, is it?

I still feel angry about the time we missed together; I don’t dwell on it, but it’s there. If you were alive, you would have turned 79 in October, and had it not been for that abysmal disease, you would be a young, healthy, active, and vibrant 79. You would be enjoying retirement, travel, friends, and holidays. We might be baking Christmas cookies right now.

I’ll never understand why life unfolded the way it did, but I vow to make the best of every day because I know that’s what you would want. Even during your long illness, you taught me so much, and those lessons continue to enlighten me three years later. Life is beautiful… and it turns out, the little things are really the big things. I never want to lose sight of that.

In 2016, there will be a new non-profit launched to honor your beautiful memory. We’ll do wonderful things with the money we raise, both to support caregivers and families living this horror right now and to help obliterate Alzheimer’s forever. Anyone who knew you knows you had a way about you – you seemed bigger than life itself, and I promise to keep your memory alive today, tomorrow, and always.

Keep sending the cardinals…

I love and miss you dearly, forever and a day,