Dear sweet Lisa,

I suppose the biggest news of this past year was moving into our dream house. Through the many decisions I tried to be guided by the ideas and vision you left with me. As amazing a house as it is, it is nothing compared to what it would be had your caring, obsessive and artistic touch guided its completion. I wanted to make it the special place we wanted it to be. I wake every morning and know that our place, Euroa, is a joyful place. And you found it, pushed us to buy it and did most of the legwork for researching it. Thank you for this.

Incredibly, the crazy California market turned our little condo into a gold mine just when I was running out of money. At first I thought you might be making this happen because you wanted to protect us and make sure we could finish the house. Then I realised that you did make this happen, but it was to make sure I didn't skimp on anything. As the boys say, "I'm like Mum. I believe in buying quality things." We started our married life in the condo and were about to start our golden age in our joyful place. You are with us here with every amazing sunrise and sunset, every visit from Kookaburras, every banksia blossom. You have provided for us.

Aulden is now almost eight and this year has lost his front baby teeth and now has his beautiful big chompers. He is still the world's best hugger and now he does "PG kisses" - his version of French kissing he learned from the movies. He wears your dressing gown and slippers every day and sleeps with a picture of the two of you beside his bed. He loves his soft friends and plays and cares for them in the imaginary way that you loved to see. He can lie naked in bed for hours on his way from the shower to getting dressed. He has your gift for losing himself in the things he loves.

Nathaniel is becoming a lovely boy. He sometimes struggles with his cleverness and is still prone toward the pedantic, but he is such an incredible individual. He cares about things, wants to do them right and is sensitive to life's deeper issues. He is 9 and a half and is becoming a lovely violinist and accomplished student. This past year he took his basic skills test and scored in the top percentiles. He is far brighter than either of us, so we must have done some things right in raising that precocious little boy. He will make his mark on the world.

Seymour passed away this year of old age, living with Jodi in San Diego. He was our first pet together and a wise cat. You brought him home without asking me, saying, "a home isn't a home without a cat." I think I learned some strong headedness from you, as yesterday was our first full day with a new addition to our family. Even though every time you said the word "dog" it was invariably preceded by the word "stupid," all I can say is, "Every child on a block of land needs a dog." As I quickly came to love Seymour, you would instantly bond with Gretchen and thrill to see how the boys love and care for her. She will be a good friend to them over the years. Sits beside me as I write the way Seymour did. Everything is new; it is all the same.

In the years that we have lived in Australia, you have now been gone more than you were here. Aulden was in pre-school and now he's a lovely and lively big boy in year 2. Nat was in year one, just learning to read and now he reads like an adult and likes to discuss current world events.

Your Mum, brother and sister have been in hospital this year, but all are doing fine and we will do anything to help them and let them know how loved they are.

The days have gone by. You know that I now love another woman as I didn't let myself love you. Your life and death have given me a greater capacity for love than I would have ever found in this life had we not been together. I benefit and you are gone. But not all gone. You miss out on so many daily wonderful things, but I know you are aware of what's going on and smile that somehow - probably through you - we have been able to go on. I don't understand how it is possible. I think of you every day and miss you and love you every day. I can't even pretend to understand how all this works, but I know that you are helping us and watching us.

At your service in Kerever Park - the second hardest day of my life - I said one thing that has stayed with me and that will inform the rest of my life. When we were married, we each lit a candle for ourselves and one for our marriage. On that day at Kerever Park, I said that in your absence I would always light your candle. This, your life and what you are now missing, are my guiding light.

I love you and miss you.

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First posted April, 2001