Dearest Reid,

The one-year anniversary of your death is approaching and I've been thinking about how it falls right around the time that my eight-month stint as a chaplain intern at the hospital will come to a close and how I'm moving, now, toward the idea of becoming an ordained minister. 

Funny how life is such a funny thing.

I drove past your house in Pawlet yesterday and I cried. Pretty hard, actually. Because I was thinking about how you must have suffered, not only in those hours before Tristan found you, but in the days, weeks, maybe even years, leading up to that time.

But then something occurred to me, sweet angel Reid.

When I was driving past your house I was on my way to celebrate the engagement of my brother, Tom, to one of the most extraordinary women I've ever known, Stacey Gerrish. Earlier in the week Tom had called to talk to me about some epiphanic moments he was having, in regards to life, and to love, and he told me that a story I had written called More Joy had, in part, inspired some pretty profound spiritual movement on his part.

Suddenly I saw the great web of life come into focus: my time with you in the hospital last March inspired me to become a hospital chaplain which was where I met the cancer patient who inspired me to write the story that inspired my brother to ask Stacey to marry him.

The sorrowful reality of your death, Reid, set in motion a chain of events that has, ultimately, caused a great deal of joy. 

I have a kind of a promise for you: if there is anyone among us who doesn't understand the beautifully infinite nature by which we are all intimately interconnected, I will work hard to enlighten them, (I may even shout about it from a pulpit someday) and I will do it because you were here, Reid, and because you gave me the gift of being present when your spirit was moving on. I'm going to use this small life of mine as a reminder that the loving kindness we place in the world never goes away; that the vessel fades but the spirit remains.

I will be the final presenter at the final class of my CPE group at the hospital later in the month and I've decided to give each person in my group -- six extraordinary people who have changed my life -- a small jar of honey from the last batch you harvested. That means that they will carry forward with them, on each of their own spiritual quests, lovely Reid, the sunlight and the rain and the flowers and the patience and your hands and your beautiful heart. Your story will keep moving through the world.

Your body may have left us last March, young man, but your journey continues to expand and inspire and to heal. And that is a beautiful truth that will never end.

Love, grace and gratitude,
Melissa

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