Somewhere in the middle of 2016, I met Phil.
It’s hard to know where to begin telling our story, and I’m not sure I can do it justice in a single post.
This is Phil:
If I sound cold and callous calling him names, you must understand that dickhead was one of his terms of endearment, and it also sums up how I feel about him checking out on all of us.
The world is a lot quieter without his big, boisterous laugh.
My phone isn’t filled with funny messages or pictures of his dog, and my life has been forever changed by another man who couldn’t see past his pain.
My feelings shift from rage to disbelief and from regret to sorrow, sometimes all in the same day.
Phil broke through the barriers to love that I had built over the years. He was the first and only man in five years who did, and even though I miss him every day, I will be forever grateful to God for sending Phil my way.
So many songs have brought me to my knees since I heard the news, and perhaps no other one more than this:
See, it all started when Phil drove me home — or rather it all changed the first time he drove me home. It all started when he kicked open the swinging doors of the Saloon.
No one is easy to love, least of all me. I can be aloof. I can be opinionated. I can be intimidating, but Phil was never scared of me. He was a force of nature strong enough to meet mine.
I celebrated the first hours of my 38th birthday with him watching videos on his cracked iPhone screen. He was my first kiss at midnight in 2017, and my best hug of the year. The last day he held me was July 3. If I had known then what I know now, I would have chased him and his stupid Uhaul all of the way back to Minnesota. I would have booked that flight I kept pricing. I would have told him I loved him.
I’m not saying I could have saved him with my words or my actions, but selfishly, I think it might have made this mess just a tiny bit easier for me if I hadn’t held back here and there.
There are so many things that were left unsaid between us, and maybe the only thing I can do now is promise myself I will never hold back the important words from anyone else who means as much to me as he did.
I missed his funeral because I got the news a few days too late, and I’ve been looking for ways to find my own closure. I took up a collection from our friends to send his parents flowers. I’ve been trying for weeks to write his parents a letter. I bought Modelo tall boys from the liquor store where he bought them for us the night we rearranged the rulers and t-squares mounted on his wall.
It all sounds so small, but the best memories often are.
Phil never hesitated with me — or in anything — even death.
God, I wish he had hesitated just that last time.
“Have good times” in heaven.
I love you.