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Dear Brian,

March 4, 2023 Dear Brian, I miss you. I wish those words adequately expressed the feelings and emotions swirling around inside of me right now, but unfortunately, that’s all I can come up with. I miss you. Addy and I were laying on the couch this morning watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and out of nowhere she started talking about you, saying, “I wish I had a dad.” She's said this before, but it takes my breath away every time regardless. I have to hold back the tears that inevitably surface during every one of these conversations and explain that even though you passed away, you’re still her dad, and you always will be. This morning, however, she expressed the knowledge that she never got to meet you. This is the first time she’s ever said this out loud, as she usually inserts herself into stories with you, talking about the time(s) you took her ice skating in Hawaii, or how you used to tickle her and make her laugh. Today though, she has somehow learned, or understood, or found a way to express, that she never got to meet you, and you never got to meet her. She told me when she goes to bed at night she talks to you. I know she does this as more times than not, she’ll come into my room crying, telling me she misses you. It brings me back to the desperate days, weeks, and months after you died, when Izzy (three years old at the time) would cradle herself into my arms doing the same. Those memories are so vivid and seem like yesterday, but it was somehow almost five years ago now. I asked Addy if she wanted to watch videos of you today so we can think about you and talk about you, and she asked if we could watch them “right now.” I went to your facebook page and scrolled through the years of posts and pictures and memories people have left, without you getting to see them, and found the video of you sailing Stay Gold across the Pacific when we moved from Gig Harbor to Hawaii. We turned it on and Addy pointed out all the people in it she knows, Izzy, Hudson, Mama, and Dada. She said she remembers your voice. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s been engrained in her from before she was even born, or maybe she’s heard it through these videos of you we frequently watch, or maybe she just wishes she knew it. I don’t know, but I do know she misses you terribly. It’s really not fair that you’re not here and that our babies have to live their entire lives without knowing you. You were truly the most amazing, special, adventurous person I’ve ever known and I miss just knowing you. Getting to hear the excitement in your voice as you dreamed up new plans and adventures, getting to bounce ideas off of you as we talked about new business ventures, as we planned a future for our family and everything we wanted to accomplish. I want you to know I’ve done the best I can to pursue these dreams and to raise our kids as we talked about. They’ve traveled the world with me, and have developed such kind, gentle, but strong personalities. They’re resilient and smart, educated and fun. Izzy loves reading and is about to join me on her very first expedition! We are going to Honduras in a few weeks to study whale sharks and help with coral reef restoration work. She’s so excited and has already made her packing list. She definitely didn’t get that from me, so I know there are parts of you with us still here each day. Hudson looks like me, but he’s all you. He loves tinkering with toys and tools, figuring out how things work, and finding ways to charm his mama into getting his way. He loves soccer and sharks and he’s going to be just like you when he grows up. Addy is such a mix of you and me. She’s wild, fearless, carefree, and will do anything for a laugh, but she’s also gentle, kind, and sensitive. She loves people and animals and knows how to get things done. You would have loved her so much.  I hope you know she loves you and she misses you so much. I don’t believe you’re out there, but I hope in some strange universe or ether, you can feel her love and see her grow up. All of them. All of us. As for me, I’m okay. I cried in the shower this morning thinking about you. I don’t do this as much as I used to, but it still happens. The sadness isn’t debilitating anymore, but the hole in my heart is still so present and consuming. There are just so many things I wish I could tell you, ask for advice on, laugh with you about, have you make fun of me for, and show compassion for others. I’m really proud of the kids and I, and I want you to know we really are working hard to live a beautiful and adventure filled life. The lack of your presence is apparent every day, in every way, but we’re making the days count. I worry that something will happen to me and that the kids will become orphans. This is something I never used to worry about, but it became a reality after your death, and now I worry about it. I’m in therapy to try to find ways to deal with that so that it doesn’t consume me, but it’s a struggle. I have bad anxiety every time I have to leave them for longer than a day, especially if it’s to head out for a dive. I just got home from an expedition to the Arctic (!!!) and it was a life changing experience that I want to tell you more about, but it was also nearly debilitating leaving the kids. I almost cancelled because I was scared to leave them. People don’t outwardly see this and I have a hard time talking about it with people, but it’s there. I know you understand.

Thank you for being the person I knew you to be, in life and in death. I will continue to talk to you and write to you, and to update you on the incredible things our babies are doing in their own lives. We really miss you. I wish more than anything in this world we could go back to that morning and get just five more minutes with you, but I know that’s not possible. I just wanted you to know I love you and you’re not forgotten. You have continued to inspire people even though you’re not here anymore, and I hope you somehow see or feel this. I love you.

Ash xo

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I read your last post now 3 times - you have come so far! You have respectfully and admirably continued to have Brian there as you and your babies' lives move forward❤️ He would be so proud of you Ash!

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