One year.

One year ago.

I took these selfies of us one year ago, Russ. It was not only a great evening with friends who I finally got to introduce you to after a year of pandemic isolation, but it was also the 1-year anniversary of when I collared you. You’d already long before collared me too, by the night we took these pictures together.

Next week is 26 weeks since you died.

Half a year.

This weekend, we were supposed to be holding a public collaring in front of our friends, a public declaration of who we were and what we meant to each other. We’d already started talking about ideas, how we wanted to do the ceremony. We’d hoped that things would be opened and safe to do it on the 1-year anniversary but the pandemic fucked that, too. So we were going to do things right for our two-year collaring anniversary.

You were so looking forward to us doing this, and I’ll never forget the deliciously dark and evil gleam in your eye as you told me some of your ideas for Daddy’s half of the collaring after Ma’am collared Her Viking.

How can you be gone half a year already? It feels like forever, and yet I swear I just said good-bye to you after our weekend together.

I remember that last weekend after we made butter chicken on Sunday night and you insisted I sit down so you could bring it over to me. I remember kissing you when you handed me the bowl. “Thank you, baby. You take such good care of me.” I always said that to you.

The bashful smile you always wore whenever I said that to you. “I try,” you would say.

“No, you *do*.” That was always my response.

And that always made you smile more.

You always took such good care of me. It was like you couldn’t process how grateful I was even for the little things you did. I loved your sweet, bashful smile, the one you always wore when we went through that exchange. Like you couldn’t believe the little things meant so much to me.

But they did. Those memories are all I have now, and they’re priceless, baby. I wanted time, not things, and you always gave me time. You always made time for me. You always put me first, in everything. It didn’t matter if you were Ma’am’s Viking, or the kitten’s Daddy, even when I wanted to put you first in either mode, you always defaulted to taking care of me.

After the fact I understand your sweet disbelief, now that your siblings filled in blanks for me. Unlike others in your past, I only wanted you for who you were. I didn’t want you buying me things, or grand gestures. I didn’t want you for what you could buy for me–I only wanted you for YOU, for the sweet, loving, beautiful soul you were.

I wanted snuggles on the couch, home-cooked dinners that we made together.

Walks on the beach.

The long conversations that kept us up well into the night.

The laughter. So much laughter. We laughed so hard together, baby. We always made each other laugh.

We were supposed to have a lifetime of laughter together. You taught me how to laugh again, how to smile, how to dream, how to look forward to the future, and then you were taken from me. I treasure our final weekend especially, the conversations, the time we had together.

Time.

Something we thought we had plenty of, and yet neither of us realized how desperately short it was.

We’d talked about the public collaring ceremony again that last weekend. We’d even started discussing a future handfasting ceremony. You wanted everyone to know who we were to each other. You were proud to be mine and I was proud to be yours.

When we first started seeing each other, during our conversations and negotiations then, when we’d talked about a possible future collaring I’d told you that I considered a collar as serious as a wedding ring, a commitment. That you’d have to ask me if you ever wanted me to collar you.

And then… it wasn’t long before you did just that. And then you asked if you could collar me, too.

You wanted this to be for life–we both did. We expected it to be.

We had so many plans.

But almost 26 weeks ago fate stole those plans from us.

A year ago today we had the future ahead of us.

Two years ago today, we privately committed to each other.

Today I sit here talking to your urn and looking at pictures of you and listening to you whisper in my ear. Remembering the things we promised each other.

I try to remember the nights like the one on the beach, not the worst night of my life 26 weeks ago. I try to focus on wanting to make good on some of our plans, even if you aren’t by my side now.

I try to keep putting one foot in front of the other, baby, even on the days when I don’t want to do anything but close my eyes and stay in my memories when I’m sitting on the couch with your head in my lap and playing with the day collar I made and put there, or the memories of my head in your lap and you’re playing with mine.

Because we belonged to each other and you spent the rest of your life with me, even if I didn’t get to spend the rest of my life with you. In that way, I guess you did keep your promise, even if not in the way you intended.

I love you, baby. Sweet dreams, my Viking. 🥰💖😘

One year.
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