Tonight I decided to sit down and write a letter to my brother.
I feel like I have all these things I want to tell you. Stephanie and I had such an amazing trip together in Tijuana and San Diego. I hope you got to see how she honored you on your wedding anniversary—how she gave her testimony in front of 100 people exactly 1 year after your wedding, how she donated her wedding dress to a woman in Tijuana, how she held that woman’s niece and found a flower girl dress for her, how she prayed for this woman before the wedding, how she carried the dress’s train as she walked. God gave us so much joy that night.
Then we went to San Diego, and Stephanie and I walked the beach together. I wished so badly you had been there to walk alongside her. Dave, we saw other couples on the boardwalk by the beach pushing strollers with their babies. We saw young dads with little kids on their shoulders. I looked at Stephanie and told her, “It’s too hard to think what might have been.” Gosh, we miss you so much, and it’s hard to let go of the dream that you and Stephanie would have had children together, and you would have been such a fun dad. You would have been so proud carrying your babies around; you would have raised your children to know Jesus and listen to God’s voice. It’s too hard to think about what might have been. Dave, I felt like God told me He wanted to restore my joy. I still don’t know how to live without you, but I know that I have to carry the joy of heaven in me.
Dave, Stephanie is such a faith-filled woman. But you already know that. We talked about you everyday on our trip. We loved California and Mexico.
But it was so hard coming back. I broke down on Thursday, sobbed hard from my gut, because I came back to the Hope Center, and you’re still not here.
Dave, I sit at your desk. I find notes in your handwriting. I log into your computer. I just started a bible study, and Stephanie is letting us meet in your apartment.
I don’t know how this is real, but I have to keep living each day. I’m going to eat Mom’s fried apple pies for my birthday. You loved those so much. We loved to eat them together with Mom and Dad. We’d eat half, and then save the other half to eat for breakfast the next morning. You loved apples.
Life keeps happening, Dave. Andrew Luck retired. IU’s basketball season started. Kanye West made a gospel album. Gabby got her wisdom teeth out, and she is applying to colleges. Anna got her learner's permit, and she's pregnant with a baby boy. I wish you were around to be this child’s uncle.
We miss you, Dave. At church this morning, I saw a guy from a distance that looked a little like you, and for a minute, I thought I was you.
I’ll always be looking over my shoulder for you. You are my brother. That word is so precious to me now. It’s incredible that God gave me a brother like you.
Okay, Dave, I have to wipe my tears, take some medicine for my headache, and finish a few things before I go to bed.
I love you so much,
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.