Degas Magdalena Lopez remembers Gabe Zimmerman, the congressional aide who was among those killed three years ago at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner:
Hey. I miss you. It's been too long. I used to love unexpectedly seeing your handsome face at the bar. I swear, I could feel your smile through walls, before I even saw you. Sometimes, when I walk into a bar now, I'll see someone who looks enough like you that I momentarily forget to breathe. Then I stare at the person uncomfortably for a long time, trying to make sense of what I’m seeing, almost as if I'm challenging them to prove they're not you.
I don’t know if I’ll ever reconcile the fact that I won't ever just happen to run into you again. It’s just not fair. But beyond not being fair, it’s just simply incomprehensible. I won’t serendipitously run into you, when I'm alone after being stood up for the second time in a row, feeling heavy and near tears, and share your beer. We won’t keep trying fruitlessly to make those plans to go hiking on a sunny day. You won’t call me up out of the blue to invite me to volunteer with you.
I can’t delete your phone number from my phone, even though I’m sure the number doesn't belong to you anymore. I mean, how could I? It still "belongs" to you, right? I can’t remember how many times I called you that day 3 years ago, listening to the phone ring and ring, hearing your voice mail greeting over and over, unable to hang up. Hoping over and over that the next time I called would be the time that you answered.
It’s not fair, and it’s incomprehensible.
And I know that it’s wrong that I try not to think about you on days like today, and your birthday, because I’m still so sad and it still hurts so much. I should close my eyes tight and picture your face in my mind. I should try to remember what your voice sounded like. I should spend hours trying to recall the sloping, tangled pathways of the conversations that we used to have. I know that everyone who knew you will never forget you. We will never forget all of the magical things you created, the comfort you brought to our lives, and the good you did. You were a powerful, brilliant guiding light for so many, and one that could not be truly extinguished.
I love you, and I miss you.
It's been too long.