I keep thinking of calling to tell you these things, but I feel like I wouldn't say anything right; like I wouldn't know how to say anything I'm thinking. I just don't want to miss getting to communicate some things to you. So, I will say all of these very true but difficult to say things here, and then when I call to talk to you or see you next, we can talk about current events or the weather or something.
You have done so much for Jeff and I, and I want you to know how very grateful I am. I keep thinking of all the books you have gotten me -- The Story of English that I pored over, my copy of the Complete Shakespeare (where I pressed the first rose given to me by a boy, as I later realized, ironically, in The Taming of the Shrew!), the Orthodox Study Bible, and too many others to list right now, but all of which shaped me. You have challenged me with questions and ideas, and sometimes (often) it led to arguments and frustration, but I am glad for it. It all helped shape me. When my dad passed on too soon, I think you tried to fill his place in the ways that you could, and you did so admirably. Our trip out to DC as teenagers was a monumental experience (not even trying to make a pun there), a point of reference I have often come back to since then. I saw my first ocean sunrise, rode the subway, and started a life-long love affair with coffee, which suddenly became appealing when you introduced me to half and half. You got me my first AOL account, and encouraged and helped me in my first tentative steps with connecting to the internet and emailing. You encouraged and supported me in my world travels, even if you didn't necessarily agree with the philosophy that was driving me at the time.
You have done so much (or perhaps I should say been so much) for Jeff, more than I even know, except that I know how he treasures the relationship and connection. You are a piece of our dad -- I hear his voice, I see his features, I have remembered him better and gotten to know him in new ways these last 20-some years by knowing you. You have loved us and worried about us when we needed to be worried about, just like our dad would have. Even though you were many miles away, you're kept in close touch, despite my spotty track record of responding and reaching out on my own.
After you married Joy, we all saw a softening in you. It was like that soft heart that was often masked by sarcasm and cynicism came to the forefront more and more. It was beautiful to see how happy marriage made you. We had such a wonderful time when we came out and stayed at Antietam when I was pregnant with Samuel. It was peaceful and beautiful and, simply, pleasant in every way.
I just want to make sure you know how much I have appreciated you. You have made a huge difference by being a part of my life. What your poured into us did not return void. We may still disagree about many things, but you have made me think and you have helped me see things in different ways. You will always be present through the influence you have had on us. I am glad my children have gotten to know you a little bit, and they will always know their Uncle Mark through the stories we continue to tell.
I always bragged about both my scientist uncles, but you unfailingly provided the most exciting stories to tell my friends. I lived vicariously through you as you worked on various projects and traveled to far-off places. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the things you have worked on, and I've enjoyed getting to tell others about your projects and adventures.
I just want you to know that I love you, and from where I sit, I see a life well-lived that is leaving a mark on many people, including me. I still hope I might get to somehow communicate at least pieces of this to you in person, but I am writing it down just in case, in hopes I can at least send it for you to read if I can't see you in person one more time.
I love you. Thank you for everything you have ever done for me.