Even though we promised to keep in touch, over the years we got busy with our own lives and lost contact down the line. I found myself every now and then wondering how he was doing, what he was doing and who he was doing. I hoped that he and Vickie had been able to make it work. Last I heard they were just living together with their third baby on the way. It was hard for me to picture Jack as a father, though I knew he'd be a great one.
I myself am still married to Philip happily and have three grown children of my own. I was still in California but had moved up state. Jack I believed was still down in Los Angeles.
Then it came…the letter in the mail. A letter no one could ever hope to receive, especially if you had ever known Jack Tripper.
This is the last address I have for you so I hope this gets to you. This is Vickie Tripper, Jack's wife. Yes, we got married. I'm writing this letter to you to inform you that…that…well there is no easy way to put this so I'll just say it. A few weeks ago Jack suffered a massive heart attack and sadly passed away.
And there it was, Jack was gone. The dreaded news. Jack couldn't be dead he just couldn't. He had always been so full of life. Well he was full of a lot of things, but his fullness of life was one of the many things I always loved about him.
Oh I know that when we were roommates we didn't always get along, but we both also knew that we cared for each other deeply and loved each other very much and just wanted the best for each other.
The last thing I ever wanted to hear was that Jack was dead.
I know that the news is hard to take in. I still am in denial about it. I should have let you know earlier, so if you wanted you could come down for the funeral. However, I didn't have your address or phone number. I'm so sorry. But you're welcome to come any time if you would like, I still live in the same place as last time you were here.
Janet, I want you to know that Jack loved you. He loved you so much, even up until the day he died. Just a couple months ago you came up in conversation. Jack and our daughter Emily were talking about when Jack moved from the YMCA into your guys apartment. Emily had a great time listening to all the stories he told. And I could see in his face how much he had missed you in all these years.
I think part of him mostly blamed himself for your guys drifting. After you got married he was unsure of how to act around you. He felt he had to be more responsible and adult. But it hurt him a lot that you two were no longer close.
I hope you do come down sometime. It would be nice to see you again. I'm sorry that this letter is not more cheerier. I'm sorry that this letter had to be from me and not Jack. I hope you are doing well.
A couple weeks later I flew down and L.A. and went over to Vickie's house. She greeted me with a hug and then invited me to sit in the living room. "Would you like something to drink?"
"Water is fine thank you."
Vickie left but then shortly returned. We sat on the couch next to each other for what seemed like forever. I don't think that either one of us really knew what to say. On the coffee table was a picture of Jack that Vickie told was take just a few months ago.
He looked so different. Different though in not a bad way. He had put on some weight, but he still had that charming smile and twinkle in his eyes. Before I could help it I felt my hand trembling that was holding the glass. I put it down on the table and lost control of my emotions. I just sat there and cried. I hadn't really cried when I heard the news. But being there in his house without him just felt so empty.
"I know how you feel. I keep thinking that he's away for work or something. Then I remember he was a restaurant owner and chef. Being here was his work."
"I'm so sorry Vickie."
"Don't be. Would you like to go down and see his grave?"
All I could do was nod. She took me down and pointed to the area of where he was buried. There was no headstone yet. She left me alone for a little while.
"Jack, I'm sorry that we drifted apart. It's me that should be to blame not you. Jack, I don't know if you can hear me, but I just want to say that I love you, so much. I miss you and have missed you so much. I can't believe that I will never see you. It's so wrong this isn't right. You should be here not buried underground in some coffin. I loved you Jack and I always will."
At that I couldn't talk anymore. I couldn't move either. Just before I managed to get a hold of myself to leave I felt a warmth, a familiar warmth and the thought came to me.
"I'll always be with you Janet. I'll always love you."
And with that I smile and turned to leave. Thought Jack is no longer among the living, he lives in my heart, in my soul and in my memories. Jack is always with me, this I know. And this brings me joy and comfort and love to my everyday.