dear grandpa,

Today is harder than I thought it would be. To think that a little over four years ago, I was sitting in our living room listening to you tell another story about your teenage years over a game of gin rummy; it's still unreal to me that I just can't look over my shoulder to tell you about an article I had read.

This has been the fourth birthday that I've spent without you. Each year, it blindsides me. I'm now twenty, grandpa. I've made some decisions that I wished I hadn't, missed opportunities that I regret, and have met some pretty fantastic people; all the while holding onto those who have been by my side since junior high.

The last thing you said to me was, "You can't live your life by what others want. Do whatever your heart desires." because I was having trouble deciding what I wanted out of life at that point; did I really want to major in Political Science? Where did I really want to go?

Since then, I have taken that final advice and followed my heart in all senses. I traveled to the California coastline twice, went to New York City, visited Chicago. I decided that my career should fit what I did best; observe and interpret. I've learned languages, tried some things that I never thought I would. I loved without bounds and healed the wounds it left behind. I've made a promise to continue and enjoy every last minute on this Earth.

I've stopped planning and have let life just happen. And I have to thank you so much for that because I would probably still be worrying about trivial things like: am I doing what they want for me?

In everything that I've done, I do hope that I've made you just as proud of me as Mom and Pops are. I've never forgotten you; the way you could make my friends giggle or calm me down after a bad day. I haven't forgotten our fights or our talks.

You will always be one of my favorite people.

I miss you every day, grandpa.
I'll be playing some Sam Cooke and Miles Davis tonight to spend a little bit of my twentieth with you.

Love always,

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