Dear friend.

Today is just another day to many, but it is a special one for me. You see, I never got a chance to say goodbye. You left so suddenly but I kept hoping to see you again. I felt such a sense of ultimate desolation and isolation. I didn’t know where to turn. I looked for you wherever I went. I even looked for you in my dreams, but I couldn’t find you anywhere. I went to the places where we had gone, but I couldn’t go to all of them because it seems we had been everywhere. Even in places where dreams and visions are found, but you weren’t there.

Out of confusion and looking for a sense of direction I went back to the Lodge, unreasonably hoping that you would somehow be there. The Elders told us that it was not our place to question, but you knew me almost better than most. I would relive each conversation I could think of, each laughter shared, each dream, each meeting and, yes, each argument. You were everywhere but nowhere close enough for me to find you.

I never found you again. This was until I looked into the eyes of loved ones and those who knew you well. There, I found my friend again. It was a presence so strong it could not be denied. It was in the laughter shared through memories past and journeys taken. As time went on, I cannot help but rejoice that we even knew you. I saw the markings left the behind by a dear and wonderful friend to all. I realized then just how blessed we were that you had chosen our nation to lead.

To move on, I had to go back to the fateful afternoon when I got a call telling me the unbearable news. They said you left with your daughter. Luke said, “James passed away today.” Unbelievable, but they said it was true. I never understood what people meant when they said that part of them died when loved ones passed on. But that day, I understood all too well.

You were gone. Gone to a place where no pain is felt and where you were to rest eternally. That night, I went out and spoke to you. I asked you to show me a sign that you were still there. Not long after, the tiniest snow flakes started to fall. I cried not knowing what this sign would bring. In the morning the ground with covered with a bank with a pure white snow. Again, I cried because I knew it meant you were really gone. Gone, never to return again. It took a while for me to stop picking up the phone and dialing your number, only to hang up again and again.

Almost two years later, I can look back with a better understanding of why you had to leave. We had gotten so dependent on you to show us the way. We relied on you to bring us up when we were down and to strive for a better tomorrow for our children. Your faith in us gave us faith in ourselves. We had to learn to depend on ourselves and find amongst ourselves how to go on. You’re gone but still here, especially when we take time to help each other and to be there for each other. You have taught us what leadership entails, and never to accept complacency as an excuse not to do what we feel is right.

Thank you for all you have taught us. I miss you but it is time to say goodbye and continue to ensure our dreams become reality. Dreams and visions for the people will not be lost because you’ve gone to rest. I’ll do my part and so will others. Teamwork was at its best when people were put first and it will be so again.

So, I’m finally ready to say goodbye. I’ll see you. I’ll see you again, when I cross the plane of life and death and into your world. I’ll see my friend again.