The last time I actually spoke with Jaime was Friday, November 30. By this time, she was only able to speak through clenched teeth, and even at that her words came out as a faint whisper. I leaned in, kissed her on the cheek, and said, “It’s ok if you don’t want to wait for me to visit tomorrow.” Holding back how I really felt, I got close and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but I know you have to.” Jaime looked at me with such love. She knew I was hurting. She knew I wanted to cry right there, but that I wouldn’t. We both stubbornly wanted to be strong for the other. Close to her, she whispered, “It’s not up to you. You will be fine.” I kissed her head and said, “I love you Lady.” Her actual last words to me: “I know you do.” As I recall that afternoon, tears in my eyes, I smile at the reminder of her sweet words to my heart. We had exchanged so many words over the course of fifteen years. Yet, her final words were/are so special to me. It wasn’t the first time, in the course of our six-month (temporary) farewell that she had responded that way. When she would see me so discouraged after failing to get a procedure or appointment covered by insurance, she would say, “thank you for loving me.” When I lifted her out of her wheel chair, out of the bathtub, off of the toilet, and carried her up the stairs, she would say, “I know you love me.” I don’t share any of that for your applause or kind words. Actually, I am so disappointed it wasn’t until then that I really understood what loving Jaime was all about. As cliché as it may sound, loving someone is truly about giving them yourself without expecting anything in return – including their mutual love and respect. I have loved Jaime for a very long time, but far too often I was focused on how I didn’t feel that she was reciprocating the way that I wanted her to, or I felt this selfish need to remind her how I loved her – “See what I did?” “Did you hear what I said?” “Why didn’t you respond how I planned for you to respond when I came up with this act of ‘love’?” How wrong I was. How beautiful and new those final six months were, though. In physically and emotionally lifting each other up, we found that loving was about hurt and loss just as much as it was about affection and respect. Jaime loved me enough to walk with me as far as she could through the grief that would soon wash over our home. Even before the news that her cancer would not be cured in this life, we loved each other enough to be honest about life when she would be gone. I love Jaime for telling me exactly what she wanted done with her things and how she wanted her memorial service to be conducted. And when the topic would move to Felicity, she never shared what she wanted. Instead, she told me, “You are her father. I trust you because you love her just as much as I do. She’s in good hands.” I don’t know how long my journey is. To be honest, it’s not something I care too much about anymore. For however long I have, though, I will take heed of the path I have traveled and show my daughter how much I love her and am thankful for the “intense happiness” she has brought to my world. Felicity will take the imperfect example of her father, and one day truly love her husband – just like her parents – until death provides a temporary separation – a bend in the road on this side of heaven.