I don’t know how long it was before you died, but Walter went over to your house to help you with something. You were making burgers on the grill and you gave him one. But when you put it in front of him you gave him a bun with two tops instead of a top and a bottom. You guys laughed about it.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but on the day you died he was on his way to tell our grandmother—your mother. He stopped at Wendy’s and got a burger through the drive through on the way. They gave him a burger with two tops. Was that you?

I got asked recently whether I believe in ghosts. I answered that I am not sure, as I don’t have any evidence to show me whether they actually exist. I haven’t had any sort of experience that could be orchestrated from somebody on the other side. Sometimes your voice pops in my head. Sometimes I swear your hands guide me when I am fixing something and somehow I come up with a brilliant solution seemingly out of thin air. But is your voice in my head just a memory? Is coming up with an offbeat idea on how to fix something really just something deep in my brain instead of you somehow taking control. Just in case I still thank you all the same.

You’ve been gone almost 17 years now. And I seriously cannot believe it’s been that long. And I don’t know if you can see anything that we are doing where ever you are. I like to think that you’re on Mars. Yeah, I know, it’s weird. But let me explain.

The year after you died, Todd wanted to do something for me in your memory. He looked into that naming a star after you thing, and learned that it’s a scam. Then somehow he learned that NASA was putting a time capsule on Mars. He called NASA, used his attractor beam of cooperation, and managed to get your name placed in the time capsule. He got a certificate to commemorate it, I have it. Your name is in that capsule, as is Dad’s, and all of your kids. So, there you are. On Mars.

The year that Todd and I got married, in 2003, Mars was in a spot in its orbit where it was the closest to earth it’s been in 500 years. I could see your new home in the sky, a red star. I like to think this was how you attended our wedding, as you missed it. And I know you would have hated to miss it. Whenever I hear about someone dying I always think about all the life events they would miss out on. And I hate this list that I am about to make for you. I hate that you missed all this stuff, because Mars is far away again.

Todd and I bought our first house a few months after you died. Remember, I had just gotten laid off from my job about a week or so before you died. So, I didn’t have a job, and then I lost you. I was very sad and had a hard time getting motivated about getting on with life. I didn’t have a routine. So Todd and I looked for houses and we moved to Rhode Island. I missed out on inviting you to see it.

You missed Griffen, Nemo and Potter, my dogs. I remember how Sammy used to cling to you, and you never got a chance to see any of your granddogs.

Well, you missed our wedding. It was on a beach in Newport, RI. I remember telling you I wanted to get married on a beach, and you were horrified at the idea of someone wearing jeans to a wedding. I was barefoot. And it was fine, even though we did have a few guests in jeans. I can’t remember who they even were, because I didn’t care.

At our wedding Chris was pregnant with her fourth, Cassidy. You missed the birth of your last grandchild. When you died the youngest grandchild, Hali, was only 10 months old. She just turned 17, and she’s gorgeous and looking at colleges and planning her future. And she’s living proof that time has passed at all since you died.

You missed me writing a book, and getting a published, and eventually publishing it myself. And it’s your voice in my head that tells me to go after what I want, again with hearing your voice.

But most importantly you missed watching me be married, though we were engaged for a year before you died, you missed seeing me be loved and supported unconditionally by the best man I’ve ever known. You died knowing I found my partner, my other half. But you never got to see the me that grew into being half of a marriage.

And while you’ve been on Mars and missing everything happening on Earth, I’ve missed you.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.