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Four months later, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Two months after that, he died. But I didn’t have Leasa to rely on because in the intervening months, we’d had Time-Out #3. This one lasted more than six months.

Still hurting, one day early last year I wrote a long, emotional email, mostly about life and particularly about Tom. I asked if we could talk. We agreed to meet at the same coffee house. It was Valentine’s Day. I brought a rose.

Weeks later, I received an Evite to a “Celebration of Life” party at the home in the Malibu hills where Tom’s younger sister had lived with her husband. Adele had died 18 years earlier from cancer. In the years since, other members of the extended family had passed away as well and so this party became an annual tradition. Now Tom was part of that tradition.

But in the words of the invitation, it was “Not just about those we have lost, but those we still have around us.”

It was all that. And so much more. A day about life and love and celebration. A day meant to remind us why we are here.

I introduced Leasa to Tom’s mother, a remarkable woman I’ve been blessed to refer to for more than 60 years as “Aunt Bea.”

As the afternoon wore down, Leasa and I went for a walk around the grounds. She saw an old-fashioned swing, suspended beneath a California Oak. She immediately ran to it. We then walked across a footbridge over a dry creek bed. She paused, turned and looked back at me. I took a picture.

Through spring and summer, it was our best time.WP_000337