How did it come to be a year since you left this earth?
Somehow I have moved forward through these days and weeks, building my own new life, one hour at a time. Moving towards a life re-imagined, that I can’t quite envision yet.
Maybe you can see it. Maybe you see me looking ahead to the sun coming up over the horizon now, a little more often than looking back over my shoulder, to where the moon and stars have set.
It’s been such a very full and tiring year. I am 50 pounds smaller now. I can’t tell you how hard I’ve worked on life responsibilities. I went soul-searching in Ireland, then decided to take a sabbatical from work, a true leap of faith. Isn’t it ironic: I gave a talk on decision-making just months before you died – and now all life decisions and consequences are mine to fully own.
I’ve changed in so many other ways this year, too.
I’ve learned to be more resilient, more brave, yet more open and vulnerable to let others in. I’ve learned that when hearts break, then mend, they grow in capacity to love. Mostly I’ve learned to love myself. In the absence of your great love and belief in me. Or maybe, in the ongoing subtle presence of it.
You are always in my thoughts, but today I find myself remembering the many times we went bird-watching. These are among my most cherished memories: quietly observing you, immersed in the natural environment, listening and watching for signs of birds in the marsh or flickering in shrubs, grokking nature.
During these times, you became Jim the naturalist, Jim the educator. And in these moments, I became your student. You inspired questions and celebrated my discoveries. You shared your incredible knowledge, experience and passion with me. You were Essential Jim. And I basked in the light that radiated from you.
Whenever I see a bird fly overhead, I always think of you. Sometimes I think you are the bird. If that is true, I can only imagine your joy to be soaring over this beautiful earth. I hope you can see me. And I hope you are proud.