Dear Walt,

I had to take your photo off my phone’s home screen. It’s not as if I’ve forgotten what you look like or ever will. Plus, I have dozens of photos—though not enough videos—so if I ever wonder which of your cheeks had the cutest dimple, I’ll have a handy reference guide. I won’t. Wonder.

When I went to bed last night, I decided I was tired of the hurt. It’s physical, the tension, the stress, the nausea, and it’s not good for me. It’s not as if the hurt’s going to go away but for the moment I need to lessen it where I can. The switch of the wallpaper is one small step. We’ll see.

Besides, I see you everywhere in this hull of a house: at your desk researching the banister’s shoe rail and fillet (a frustrating mystery solved!), in your newly equipped garage-cum-woodworking shop building cabinets and shelves, covered in sheetrock dust and sawdust, paint and compound splatters, working with one good hand and one with two bum fingers, constantly losing your pencils, tossing me wads of Home Depot receipts.

I remember the day before December 21st happened, as we were in the kitchen putting together dinner, crossing arms as I reached into the microwave and you reached for a bowl, and commenting on how it seemed like all of a sudden the house was coming together. You said it wasn’t. You were wrong. I think you were only seeing the trees.

I see the forest so clearly now as every day more mess is made while more progress is achieved. It’s a bit like writing a book, I guess. Gutting sections and tossing them here and switching up this and that so the light at the end of the tunnel is blocked by the mess that’s going to need a massive revision and several editing rounds. Plus a proofread. Always a proofread.

But then suddenly, there it is, and the clutter and detritus and garbage are swept away and the finished product is magnificent. We had already made most of the decisions and you had already purchased most of the materials. Now it’s just our son in law finishing the project. He’s hurting, too, terribly so, but he’s doing a great job. You taught him as much as he taught you. (I’m doing my best to keep him from going all Antonio… god, that inside meme was hilarious, as were your Laurel and Hardy construction duo routines.)

I’m debating the color change you wanted for the kitchen. Since it was such a small change, I think I’m going to keep what we had. Cheaper. Easier. One gallon of paint mixed to match.

And I’m sorry sweetie but I’m going to win the ongoing battle we were having over the master bath. The entire purpose of extending our shower stall was to have room to shower together more comfortably.

I don’t need that now.