Dear Ben and Taylor,
You share no earthly connection except for me. I am remembering you both this week on the anniversaries of your passing. And you both left us at a time in your lives when you were supposed to be moving on to the next chapter, not ending the book.
But I hope you two can find each other in heaven and give each other the hugs I cannot give you.
Taylor, it has been only a year since you left. Ben, you've been gone 20 years. Both of those milestones seem hard to believe, hard to grasp. There is still an inexplicable void in my life, one I feel almost guilty about. I wasn't part of either of your everyday lives when you passed. I feel like I have less right to miss you. And yet I do.
To my sisters and all who miss Taylor: I'd like to tell you that the 20 years since Ben's passing has lessened the grief. I can't, exactly. It has merely muted and changed it. It's not as raw as it once was. It has mellowed into something that can make me smile. I laugh over Glee Club memories and Fridays with our group of friends.
But after 20 years, it's tempered with "what if?" Where would Ben be today, if he had lived? What would he have done? I think you will all find yourselves wondering this about Taylor, as the years go on. Especially those of you who expected her to be by your side as you took on the world together.
Every year, on the anniversary of Ben's passing, someone posts a picture of him on Facebook. And we all comment on it. We share memories. We share grief. We share our wonderings. Sometimes we reconnect with a friend we haven't talked to since high school. Twenty years later, he still brings us together.
I hope that 20 years from now, someone will still be posting a picture of Taylor every year, and that we'll virtually gather together. That's the best tribute of all.
I miss and love you both.