It's September Honey. The weather is bringing a few cool days with rain washing away the heat of summer. The mountains are starting to color; red for now and soon the gold of the aspen will intermingle creating a kaleidoscope of color. As much as you loved your summer sun, this time of year still brought with it the excitement of fall; the pheasant hunts and elk hunts.
If I could turn back the hands of time or turn the hour glass so the sand could pour backwards, I would take it back to the fall of 2008, and I would take us: you, your boys, your dad and I, to Dry Fork Canyon. Our trailer house would be nestled back in the pine trees and your tent would be down the road a ways. The smell of my cooking fried potatoes and onions and pork steaks would pull you, Vince and Christian to the trailer. We would eat, and sit and the hunting stories would sail in the air. I remember quietly sitting there and listening as your dad would tell you stories of the past; stories you have heard since you were a little boy. I could almost feel your excitement and the boys' excitement for opening morning. You would take off through the mountains while your dad and I would road hunt since our hiking days had been lost in past years. You could always find your way in the mountains. You could even as a young boy.
I remember once when you went with the church on a hike with several other girls and boys and the teacher who was suppose to be the guide. Night came, and none of you arrived at the designated time. It ended up the teacher/guide got lost, and it was you who led the group of young people out of the mountains and safely home. The mountains were a part of your blood, handed down to you through your dad. The mountains were his church as they also became yours and Mark's.
In my mind, I picture you as you walk out of a strand of yellow aspen, your boys close behind. You all are wearing your hunter orange. I can feel the peace and happiness fill my heart, because I know at that time and place, you are filled with peace and happiness.
If I could only turn back that clock, I would capture the smile on your face, the scent of sagebrush on your clothes. I would see you holding your gun with your left hand as you took your long, graceful steps and walked towards us. You would steal a Pepsi out of our cooler and lean against the truck and tell us what you had seen.
I love you Daren. I love the times we spent together. I love your stupid sense of humor, your laugh, the way you crossed your legs when you set down. I love how you defended me with every breath you took and how you defended your sisters and brother. No one messed with Daren's family. I love the way you could talk to people. It didn't matter if they were rich or poor, they were your equal and you theirs. I love how you always stopped to help anyone in need and how you taught your boys to do the same. I even love the smell of Marlboro reds. I have a package on my nightstand in case you ever want to light one up.
Thank you Sweetheart for letting your Dad and I live with you while we were in Alaska. You always made me feel so welcome...so special. Thank you for helping your dad bait his fishing pole when he became too ill to do it himself and thank you for helping him pull his king salmon from the Salcha River and help him hold it while he had his picture taken. Thank you for giving up your bed so we could have one. Thank you for keeping your patience when your dad decided to repair the bedroom door when you were trying to sleep. Thank you for teaching your sons the value of family, and thank you for teaching me the value of unconditional love.
I miss you Honey. I miss the sound of your voice on the other end of the telephone. I miss feeling your arms around me in one of your bear hugs. I miss your advice. I just miss everything about you.
I know you are close by me. I know that your love for me didn't die anymore than my love for you. Love is what lives on and I know wherever you are at, you still carry all of your love with you. But sometimes knowing you are close by me is not enough. Sometimes I still want to feel your hugs, want to smell the scent of your aftershave, want to watch you run your fingers through your hair to straighten it. Sometimes I want to watch you dry your ears with q-tips and put on the bracelet you made from parts of your fishing pole. Sometimes I want to see you driving in your truck with your elbow resting on the window frame or see you bouncing along the highway in a backhoe or grader.
But, I have learned the hard way that I can't have everything I want. But I am fortunate to have had them for as long as I did...long enough to build up the memories that roll through my mind as I sit here tonight.
I love you baby. At some time long before this life, you honored me by choosing me to be your mom. You chose me to give birth to you, to watch you grow, to laugh with you, to cry with you, to share in your achievements and in your losses. You chose me to be the mom that would climb through the bushes and under limbs with you when you were a little boy. To sit on the ground beside you next to a babbling brook and eat the ditch bank stew you had cooked in a coffee can over a little fire, using vegetables you had "borrowed" from a neighbor. You chose me to accompany you on your trips to Dry Fork Canyon and build the memories that each fall replays in my mind. You chose me to be the one who would love you, lose you, and miss you.
I love you Sweetheart. If you can, sneak into my dreams. Let me hear your voice.
Forever and ever my baby you'll be.