“Death anniversary” is a peculiar phrase, almost oxymoronic — the word anniversary calls for celebration while death warrants sorrow and grief. But here we are, on the heels of your anniversary, the one-year mark since the day you were taken from us.

It has been an odd 12 months. Life goes on as it does, not caring whom it leaves behind. Most days are easy. Most days I carry on with my business and put on a smile that says “I’ve got the world on a string!” because it often is. But some days aren’t as sunny — some days require a bit more effort just to get myself out of bed. A dark cloud follows and hovers above my spirits, depressing my every thought. On those days, I struggle to find the common ground in which nostalgia meets regret and the sorrow that accompanies it. Although the bad days will never fade, the good ones will keep me going.

The first few months after your death were confusing. I did not know what to do or how to cope. My arms were tired and stretched thin from stubbornly carrying on your memories; the weight almost killed me. I fought hard against the fading images of our time together and I constantly replayed the sound of your voice with the fear that, God forbid, I might someday forget your unforgettable laughter.

These were the manifestations of my stages of grief. It presents pain and suffering in a neat package that no one seems to want, but everyone seems to get. It’s different for everyone, but normally the cycle ends with “Acceptance.” The assumption that one stops grieving after this stage, that all is suddenly better and normalcy is returned — this is false. Grief lasts for as long as you can remember the pain that came with the revelation, the agonizing moment in which you were told that you were never going to see your best friend again. Grief lasts until the day you can no longer recall the sound of your heart shattering into a million, irreparable pieces.

All of this is to say: you’ll stay with me until the day I die, Tracy. It doesn’t matter how much time had passed, one year or ten years, I will always honor your memories. And don’t worry, eventually the pain will grow less painful and the weight will feel less crushing. In the meantime, it won’t get better but it will at least become easier to manage.

See you in my dreams. I love you and I miss you. Forever and Always.