The Mountains — Georgia

Biff at the docks in front of a sunset.

It’s peaceful. Quiet. The sky is a canvas of periwinkle blue, its horizon torn jagged by the treetops. It fades into an orange ombre and I know it’s more than the sun melting into a neon spill; it’s you paying an homage to your Tigers. 

I sit out here most nights, like you and I used to do. It’s still disorienting, jarring in the worst way when I look over at your chair and remember that you’re not here next to me. How lucky we were to spend so many evenings on our porch, watching the sky turn on its stars. 

My camera roll is filled with the sunsets of our life, whether we were home in Georgia, or adventuring in Wyoming, Montana, or the Florida Keys. That was our sacred time to just talk, and listen, and enjoy each other’s company. Which, after thirty-six years, you might think it would get old, but it never did. There was always something to talk about, something to learn. 

Biff and Melanie in the woods during the winter.

I learned so much from you, Biff.

Patience, for one thing. We dated for eight years before moving in together. And I was honestly fine with that, because I trusted you wholeheartedly. 

You showed me that unconditional love very much exists. I know that when you got sick, the only reason you did the treatments was so we would have more time together. It was a painful, awful year for you, but you fought the good fight. For me. 

And finally, this one’s my favorite. You taught me that life doesn’t always turn out like you planned. Because sometimes, it turns out far better than you could have imagined.

Biff and Melanie at wedding.

Like our engagement, or rather, the wedding that didn’t go off without a hitch. You had everything planned, from the ring to the horse-drawn carriage. Except for the weather in Nashville. Honestly, who could have anticipated zero degrees? So, you waited to ask me until we were home in Blue Ridge; little did I know, you had the entire wedding planned for that Friday! But we had everything, didn’t we? The minister, the church, the food, the rings. Even our puppies—Bailey and Jake—were there. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

You were always the life of the party. And you took care of everyone. I know that when you got sick, it was hard for you to let someone else care for you. But I need you to know something: you were never a burden for me. You were my husband. My life. I would have done anything for you. 

It’s been a year and still, I have every card you ever gave me, and the letter you wrote me when you got sick. It’s beside the bed. I read it all the time. Your toothbrush is still in the cup. Your clothes are still in their drawers. I’m not ready to let go, Biff. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. 

Biff and Melanie at cabin.

But, I’m moving forward in a different way, one that doesn’t require so much letting go of things as it does embracing a new way to have you with me. It’s something that, had you known about it, I know you would have wanted me to do. It’s a company called Eterneva, and they make diamonds from ashes and hair. I’m making a diamond from us—your ashes and my hair—so that we’re together forever. 

Joani helped me get everything together; she’s been a part of this journey since day one. The setting I have picked out is a heart with gold on one side and white-gold on the other. Our diamond will be cradled in the groove where the two halves intersect, and the gold, in fact, will be melted from your wedding band.

Biff and Melanie with their pets.

And I have a dog now. Charlie. Named after you, of course. I’m sure you’ve seen her when you’re looking down on us. She gives me a run for my money, Biff. She’s so full of energy. I’m sure you’re laughing at all of my faux pas with her; you were always the dog trainer.

Charlie and Eterneva have given me things to look forward to as I navigate a world without you in it. I can’t wait for the day our diamond comes home, so we can enjoy the sunsets together again.

Until then,