Today, you don't look like you. I think you forgot your glasses. The last time I saw you, I told you that you looked like Kenny Loggins because your hair had grown out and you had that moustache and goatee. I remember because you thought I said Kenny Rogers. Today, your goatee was gone and your hair had been cut, probably because you look best as a Marine. Your dress blues were clean and pressed. The lipstick I got on them three years ago was gone. Your medals were neatly pinned, and you wore a dog tag bearing your daughter's name and birth date.
You've changed so much. I touched your hand, then stroked your hair. You didn't respond. I thought at any second you would wake up. I've told you how much I love your brown eyes and I know what a light sleeper you are. What was wrong with you?
I met your girl today. She presumed who I was, as I did her, and we fell into each other's arms. She is an Olympic hugger. She must have learned it from you. She said I was still #2 in your speed dial. I told her how I remember the day you and I were walking around the construction site and you got a call on your cell phone. You spoke briefly, then hung up. You said to me, "I met this great girl last night." Today, she seemed relieved to know it was me who was with you on that day, and that she and I could share one memory of you was an honor for me. We were regretful to meet under these circumstances, but thankful for being able to share this with each other. You would have married her, I know it.
I saw your mom. She was as young as I remember her. It's funny how she seemed readier to console me. I told her how sorry I was. She held me and reminded me of how much fun you were. We laughed when we remembered that time you and I deep-fried a turkey in her driveway and trailed peanut oil all the way from the garage down to the curb and how we tried to clean it up with cat litter but it was more mess than it was worth; the time we diapered your brother's dog, Wayne, as a joke; and when we stayed up all night at her house playing on the PS2 when we could have just gone back to our own apartment 4 blocks away.
I came home to more memories of you...photos of us in my scrapbook, "Fletch" on TV, GIR on my wall, the knit cap on my table, another sweatshirt in my closet. I remembered how you slept in my spare room for months, and when I felt sad or lonely, I could crawl in with you. I remembered when you first introduced Thisbe to catnip. She acted like she was a cat possessed.
I won't be able to remember you as my lab technician. You will always be my best friend. Thank you for being my family when I had none; for saving me from myself; for loving everyone for exactly who they are. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life for so long. Thank you for being my hero.
You'll never be anything less than that.