Love

A Trip Down Memory Lane And A Marriage Lesson

At Home With The O'Neil - A trip down memory lane and a marriage lesson

First of all, I need to apologize for my blogging hiatus. The good news is my digital marketing consulting business took off and I have been very busy since I last wrote.  The sad news is I had to let something go and unfortunately this blog, which was supposed to be my outlet, was the thing.  Let’s try this again.

I was inspired to come back and write after I came across this photo while cleaning Chuck’s desk.

First Engaged Photo 1.1.11

It was taken after he proposed on 1.1.11.  What is special about this photo is that I didn’t even realize it was taken.  We were both in a fog but someone grabbed my camera and grabbed a few shots of the moment.  I think we are both in a state of shock at that point.  When I stumbled across the retired camera under heaps of papers, I popped out the memory card and saw our young faces looking back at us.  And – I am not making this up – our wedding song came on iTunes at that moment.

Even though this picture was taken just 5 years ago and we have been together a total of 13, I feel like SO MUCH has happened since this photo.  We both look so young and carefree and I think “Oh babies, if you only knew what was coming.”

  • Two months after this photo was taken my maternal Grandmother lost her battle to Alzheimer’s. Which really was a blessing because she had been diagnosed with the disease 10 years before that and it was hard on the family to watch her slip away from us.
  • A few months after that photo we found out Chuck’s Aunt was diagnosed with cancer and she passed away 3 months before our wedding.
  • 15 months later Chuck was promoted to management at his job after working there since he was 14.
  • 18 months (exactly) after this photo we were married.
  • 20 months after this photo my Mother became extremely sick and almost died.  A bug bite that became infected with medical complications where she ended up in the hospital. We found that she had a vascular disease, that took its toll and left her with brain damage. Even though some days it feels like Alzheimer’s the doctor’s remind us it isn’t. However, her memory has been impaired and her personality has changed.
  • 20 months I started graduate school.
  • 21 months I dropped out of graduate school to take care of my parents.
  • Two years-to-the-date I started my first day of unemployment after accepting a severance package at my old job.  I was so stressed with this job that I was under chronic stress and my hair was falling out.  I just found out that in order for this to happen your body is under stress for an extended period of time.
  • 30 months to the date our beautiful, sweet, kind and loving Niece was born who brings us so much joy.
  • 31 months to the date I launched my business JO Social Branding with the un-wavering support of my husband.
  • Month 33 – Today (month 63) becomes a blur.  Launching a business takes time, perseverance, in some cases disillusion and from a working spouse, trust, patience and an over-abundance of love and support.

See what I mean?  So much has changed and I know it is called life.  The one constant is our love and if anything it has grown stronger.  Somewhere between month 21 and 31, I felt guilty for Chuck.  This was not the woman he married.  I know I have changed.  Any human would.  Especially with the health situation with my Mother that my families battles with daily.  But he stood by me and loved me more.

The point I am getting at is this:  I am thankful for the dark moments because they have made the light ones so much more special.  There is a quote, and of course I cannot find it in this moment, but it is about choosing love and staying together despite everything that is ripping you apart.  Not that our marriage was in danger with any of these instances.

But when times were tough we choose to lean in and support one another rather than lean apart and try and fight it alone.

And to my husband, even though you made me wait 98 months BE (Before Engagement), I get it now.  You wanted that solid foundation in place for those rough times.  Thank you my love.

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Summer 2015 – Best Summer Ever {Photo Album}

O'Neil Summer 2015 photo recap

Last night as we returned from a 50th anniversary family cookout, Chuck and I collapsed on the couch from exhaustion and he said to me, “I had an amazing weekend with you.”  This has become an unspoken tradition we have created this summer.  That sentence has been repeated at the end of every weekend and definitely more often this summer than past summers.

The only regret is not updating this blog as often as I had hoped. I even thought to capture the moments on Instagram instead.  But you know what?  I was so in the moment living life and making memories that I didn’t do that either. It isn’t an entirely bad thing.

This has been one of the best summers in a very long time!

Mostly every weekend was surrounded by friends and family at some cookout or gathering.

So I am sharing a summer fun picture recap and I want to thank Lauren at Working Mom Magic blog for creating the hashtag and goal of #OperationSummerFun. You can read about it here and her summer recap is here.  We even made 2 cameos in the second post!

This summer, I adopted this operation to its fullest capacity.  

As Labor Day Weekend comes to a close, and fall begins to set in, I can honestly say I did everything in my power to make this the best summer it could be.

Here is what we have been up to:

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#OperationSummerFun in numbers

  • 25 lbs of Potato Salad
  • At least 6 cookouts (I lost count after that)
  • 4 days by the pool
  • 3 summer music concerts
  • 2 cookouts with requests of Broccoli Salad
  • 2 trips to Foxwoods Casino
  • Dining out (more times than I can count)
  • Unlimited glasses of Homemade Iced Tea
  • Countless laughs, smiles and entertainment

What is your favorite memories from this summer?  I want to know!  

Our 18 Hour Birthday Road Trip {Recap}

Our 18 Hour Birthday Road Trip {Recap} At Home With The O'Neil's

In my last post, A Love Note to My Husband on His BirthdayI shared our new tradition to run away for a night or two for his birthday to just soak up our time with one another.  Out of all our trips this last one was probably was the shortest and most fun.  Which goes to show quality over quantity is always key in most areas of life.  We were away for less than 24 hours and had a blast!  I promised Instagram updates but I was so in the moment that I failed on my mission.  I’m sorry!  But I am making up for it with this 18 Hour Birthday Road Trip Recap!

We started our road trip off with a late lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants.  Given it was middle of the afternoon and mid-week we knew we would get prime outdoor seating at Sylvan Street in Peabody MA.  Our hunch was right!

Starting off our road trip with some drinks by the waterfall at one of our local favorite restaurants.

Starting off our road trip with some food and drinks by the waterfall at one of our favorite local restaurants.

After we filled our bellies, we started on the 2.5 hour road trip.  Chuck has a passion for music so he is always in charge of music, even when driving my car.  I loaded up my iTunes with some podcasts and we co-habitated with talk radio and rock music.

Earplugs in and podcasts on while my handsome guy jammed out to some rock music.

Earplugs in and podcasts on while my handsome guy jammed out to some rock music.

Early on the trip the skies appeared to be a little gloomy but we drove through the downpours and came out on the other side about 10 minutes later.  Like they say, when you live in New England and don’t like the weather just wait – it will change.

Cloudy skies...

Cloudy skies…

and 10 minutes later we are through the downpour and in the clear!

…and 10 minutes later we are through the downpour and in the clear!

After checking in to the Great Cedar Hotel, Chuck ran down the Casino to play a few games while I unpacked and tried to get some work done.  I know this sounds lame, but the change of location helps with my motivation and I am not a huge gambler.  I enjoy the change of scenery and Chuck enjoys me not hounding him with questions of when he will be done.

About 2 hours later he returned and we got dressed for dinner.  We decided on the Hard Rock Cafe.  My music man loved it.  We had to wait for seating so we first got drinks at the bar.

I got the Red Berry Press which was amazing and took me 2 hours to drink. Lots of alcohol with fresh fruit to take away the guilt.

I got the Red Berry Press which was amazing and took me 2 hours to drink. Lots of alcohol with fresh fruit to take away the guilt.

Chuck was very happy to get a souvenir glass to bring home.

Chuck was very happy to get a souvenir glass to bring home.

While we were waiting for our food we were watching Van Pelt Faraday, a Boston-based duo set up the stage.  They started performing and were very good.  They both have a long list of music credentials.  Erika Van Pelt (one part of the duo) was an American Idol Finalist during the 2012 season.

Boston Based Duo Van Pelt Faraday rocked the stage while we ate dinner.

Boston Based Duo Van Pelt Faraday rocked the stage while we ate dinner.

We ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake for the birthday boy.

A fantastic marriage benefit of being married to the birthday boy, I got to have half.  He knows “what is yours is mine – especially when it comes to chocolate”.

A fantastic marriage benefit – I got to have half.  He knows “what is yours is mine” – especially when it comes to chocolate.

After dinner, we strolled through the Casino, took a few pictures and then went back to the room.  I changed for bed and grabbed the iPad to read, while the Birthday Boy decided to try his luck downstairs.

Next Day

The next morning we got ready and headed to breakfast.  We love going to the Veranda Café. They have a massive buffet that Chuck loves to attempt to put a dent in every time we go.  I love the view looking out into the luscious hills.  It is secluded and so relaxing.  I am bummed I didn’t grab a photo.  Last time we came for our anniversary I saw they had Red Velvet Pancakes on their menu.  I was on a mission.  This is something I NEVER knew existed and I am a bit ashamed of that fact.  I love chocolate and pancakes are my breakfast meal of choice.

 I figured I would commemorate Hubby’s birthday with chocolate pancakes and they did not disappoint. 

I figured I would commemorate Hubby’s birthday with Red Velvet Pancakes and they did not disappoint.

After we filled up on food we went back to the room, packed up and checked out.  We put our bags in the car and snuck back into the casino for a few more hours of fun.  I found a comfy seating area with wi-fi.  I really am not a gambler.  I did some work and then continued to read on my iPad.  Chuck had some more fun then found me at 12 PM and we started our trek home.

It was so nice to just be, do what we wanted at a pace we were comfortable with.  No agendas or time schedule.  We had a little time together, a little time apart doing what we loved.

 We left feeling refreshed with huge grins and some great memories. 

We left feeling refreshed with huge grins and some great memories.

Thanks for coming on our trip with us!

What place do you like to escape to, to just get away for a short time or evening?

A Love Note to My Husband on His Birthday

A Love Note to My Husband on His Birthday - Via At Home With The O'Neils

This week we are celebrating Chuck’s birthday.  Every year he uses his vacation time to take the week off.  We rarely go anywhere but it has become a nice tradition where we celebrate and spend time together during his time off.

We have created this tradition of slowing down and enjoying the others’ day and celebrating their life.  Because let’s face it, our own lives would be much different if our significant other was never born So we celebrate the miracle of life and fate that brought us together.  It is nice to slow down and just ride the wave.  Go where we want to go, do what we want to do – together and spoil the one we love.  The past couple of years, we go away to Foxwoods Casino Resort for the night.  Chuck loves to gamble, I love to people watch and sleep in a comfy hotel bed.  Follow us on Instagram to see snippets of our trip.

Being together as long as we have I forget just how old we are.  I started dating Chuck when he was 23.  He is turning 36.  Yikes!  I still feel like we are the 18 and 23-year-olds when we first started dating – just with a lot more responsibilities.  I know I have shared my affection for him in others posts but I wanted to dedicate this post to my one and only love on his birthday.  It is not easy to live with me.  Sometimes I wonder if I could handle it.  I don’t think I could.  He deserves an award.

I am honoring my Love with some simple and loving statements, music and quotes on his birthday.

  1. I love your unique and refreshing outlook on life.  Most people don’t get it.  I do and I love it.
  2. I love how you make it your mission to make me laugh and smile – even after you did something to upset me.
  3. I love how you can look at my face and know what I am thinking or feeling.
  4. I love how when I go to speak and you say the words before I even get them out.
  5. I love your hugs, they are my favorite.  All encompassing and keeping the craziness of the world away from me.
  6. I love our daily kisses and “I love you”s. I mean it every time.  I remember the pain of when we split.  When I couldn’t say those words to you when I wanted to.  That ache is a shadow that reminds me of how blessed I am today.  I will never take our love for granted.
  7. One of my favorite things is watching you with our Niece.  The light in your eye and the special bond between you two, truly makes my heart skip a beat.
  8. I love how seriously you are when picking out celebration cards. It is your way of showing those you love how much you care and it is simply adorable.
  9. I love our time together.  Whether we are out food shopping or lounging on the couch in silence watching our favorite shows together.
  10. I love how happy you make me feel and I love to make you happy as well.  I know we are quirky, most people don’t get it, but we do and that is all that matters.

Please know that,

The storm may be raging in our lives but you are the steady anchor that keeps me afloat.

 

I love this song because it reflects all that we have been through together, and all that is in store for us in the future.

YouTube Video Source: Wagner Jr.

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Photo Gallery Source: Personal Photos and Pinterest Gallery

Thank you for choosing me as your wife and life partner.

Love, Jeannine

3 Things On Our 3rd Year Anniversary

At Home With The O'Neils - 3rd Anniversary

June 1, 2012 is a date that melts my heart.  It is the day that we vowed to be Husband and Wife.  I am so honored to be in this life and in a loving partnership with my best friend.  Chuck and I have been dating/married over a decade, and in October it will 13 years since our first date.  I am still amazed by all the good and bad we have experienced and how strong we have become because of it.

So as we celebrate our 3rd Anniversary and look forward to many, many more, I want to share 3 things with you, our friends.

3 Things I Love About Chuck

  • His hugs. They are all-encompassing, keep me safe, squish me against his chest and squeeze out all the bad I have had in the day.
  • Laid back attitude.  I am a constantly stressed, overachieving, Type A personality.  He balances me.  Nothing can really shake him and if it does, he bounces back pretty quickly.  He is my rock.  He keeps me grounded and sane.  He also has the ability to drive me insane but that is another post.
  • How he taught me to love myself.  When we met, I was young.  Just coming out of high school with a ton of insecurities, he quite literally taught me to smile.  Having braces for 7 years, I had grown insecure about my mouth.  We started dating 4 months after the braces came off.  He would always ask me to smile and show him my “pearly whites”.  I was so used to hiding my mouth that I refused to smile.  He banished that and other insecure habits.  He also taught me to love myself, by sharing with me what he saw and loved about me.

3 Things I Love About Being Married to Him

  • His unwavering dedication to those he loves.  When times were financially tough when I decided to start my business, he told me he would eat Mac and Cheese the rest of his life, if that is what it took took for me to reach my dreams and make me happy. .
  • Our language. Over the years we have developed a secret language that only the two of us know.  Born out of stories and moments that we shared and cherish and laughed over.  Funny words, words mashed together.  Secretly our own.
  • Someone in my corner.  No matter what he is right there, by my side, willing to fight life’s battles with me and for me.

3 Songs That Remind Me of Us

Lifehouse – Take Me Away – Our first dance wedding song.  We were dating for a short period of time when he claimed this as “our song” back in 2003.  It is even on the Jeannine’s 19th Birthday CD he made for me just a little over a month of dating.

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud – I get teared up every time I hear this song and think of us. I cannot wait to grow old with Chuck.  Well I can wait to grow old, but I am happy that it will be with him.  Seeing my Paternal Grandfather take care of my Grandmother with Dementia and my Father in a similar situation, I have witnessed true love.  I have 100% faith that Chuck will be there for me whether I am with it or not.  Even when I gave him an out and told him, if I had a similar fate, I wanted him to live his life.  He told me he wouldn’t leave my side.

Edwin McCain – I Could Not Ask For More –  The words of this song speak to me.  I am so blessed to have found the love of my life at such a young age and to have experienced so much with him while we are still so young.  Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for him.

 

3 Pictures of Us That I Love 

Chuck and Jeannine Salem Willows 2003

Yeah we were babies when we first started dating.  This was taken in August 2003 at the Salem Willows Amusement Park in Salem, MA.

At Home With The O'Neils Wedding Day

I love this moment right after we were announced Husband and Wife.  I love how candid this shot is, pure loving bliss.

IMG_2681

This photo was taken on our honeymoon in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  I love how symbolic it is, we will look out at our future, holding one another side by side.

3 Pieces of Marriage Advice

I want to share 3 pieces of valuable relationship advice that was given to me through the years.

  • Value your time together –  and apart.  It is quality over quantity of time spent together.  Make sure you have enough time for yourselves as a couple, your alone time and your time with friends.  It is all about finding the perfect balance.
  • Treasure what you have.  Love is like holding sand in the palms of your hands.  If you hold too tight it will slip through.  You need to cradle and cherish it.
  • Never go to bed without saying I love you.  Even if you are angry and have a fight that cannot be resolved in that moment, always make sure you let the other know that you still love them.

I know this was a super cheesy post, but if you haven’t figured it out already, I am crazy about this man.  Here is a little video of the past 13 years.  I am looking forward to many, many more.  Happy Anniversary my love!

 

Valentines Day – The Writing Is On the Wall

For our wedding, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and putting our personal touch on every aspect of our big day was something that was very important to me.  Not only did I want our wedding to be unique, I wanted guests to “feel the love”.  Selfishly, the DIY projects were an outlet for my creativity, and a way to pass the time for our 18-month long engagement.

One of the projects was designing our wedding program.

wedding program_At Home With The O'Neils

Image Credit: Dina K Photography

As a Communications major and marketing professional, this is something I know a bit about.  The personal touch for the programs were inspirational quotes.  Inspiring messages have gotten me through some of the hardest – and best – times of my life.  It seemed only fitting for them to have a place in our program.  Each page of our wedding program had a “true love” quote.

“True love doesn’t just fill your heart, it overflows into your whole body and soul.”

“True love is not being with someone because you think you can be happy with that person, but because without that person you know you can never be.”

“I love you because you bring out the best in me, and holding onto that thought, I sincerely believe that just by being with you, shall bring out the best life I ever could live.”

However, my favorite, and the one I saved for the last page was by Richard Brach.

“True love stories never have endings.”  

Those 6 words, perfectly captured what our day was all about.  We were committing our love to one another for the rest of our lives.

I promised myself that after the wedding I would buy/make a sign of this quote or the variant, “A True Love Story Never Ends”.  I had trouble finding the perfect sign and never found the time to make it.  Eventually, I forgot about it until I found it on Pinterest – with a broken link.  Figures!

In the meantime, my mentor-friend, Stephanie started making rustic wooden signs.  I asked her if she would customize this sign for me, with the quote, our names and our wedding date.  She agreed and got to work.  Stephanie, kept texting me updates of the progress.  With each new image, I would become more and more excited.  Today, I hung it in our kitchen as a reminder of our love, and the commitment we made to one another.  It makes me smile every time I walk by.

A True Love Story Never Ends Sign

Latest addition to our kitchen! A sweet gift from a dear friend! #love #sign #wallart #homemade #diy #marriage #quotes #truelove

A photo posted by At Home With The O’Neils (@athomewiththeoneils) on

It reminds me of our special day, our commitment to one another, and how fortunate we are to have this custom made love in our life.

 And with that, I end on one more love note.

Pinterest quote

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

This is not an affiliate-based post.  However, if you love Stephanie’s sign, please check out her website for more signs and purchase if you choose. These are truly homemade, made with love and are absolutely fabulous!

New Year’s Engagement Story

Growing up, and even when we began dating, I (Jeannine) hated New Year’s Eve.  As a teenager, I would always spend it at home, munching on the candy from my Christmas stocking and vowing the New Year would be different – and it never was.

When Chuck and I started dating in 2002, New Year’s Eve was still a sore spot for me.  I was underage (19) and Chuck was 24 and in a band, he always had a show that I couldn’t attend.  It took a couple years before we could officially celebrate together at midnight, in public.  Even then it wasn’t my cup of tea.  It was just another day, and often it was a depressing one, that brought back bad memories.

In 2011, that mindset changed dramatically, thanks to my Handsome Husband.  

At this point in time we had been back together dating for 4 years, and living together 16 months.

A little background about Chuck.  He hates public displays of affection (PDA).  I always imagined our engagement story would be an intimate one.  A birthday present (since my birthday was so close to the holidays) or just the two of us opening our Christmas presents together.  So New Year’s Eve 2010 (celebrating 2011), when we were set to attend a large party at his family-run, private club, I figured once again the New Year would come (and go) without a ring.  It was probably for the best as my gel manicure had decided to peel that day anyway.

As we set out to go to the party Chuck made me wait in the car as he ran upstairs to grab his iPod in our apartment.  He was really getting the ring.  My grandmother gave me a ring when I was 12 and I always imagined that would be my engagement ring.  After we lived together for some time, the ring made its way to our computer desk. Chuck felt he needed to get me out of the apartment and then swipe the ring so I wouldn’t notice it was missing.

We arrived at the party and there are a ton of people.  We ate, mingled with family and friends, danced to music provided by his cousin Todd, the DJ.  As the ball dropped, we kissed and then we turned to hug and kiss our friends and family, wishing them a Happy New Year.

I wasn’t paying attention to where Chuck was until the music stopped. I looked up and Chuck was standing at the front of the room with the microphone in his hand. 

His cousin Todd looked puzzled.  At this point I was standing at the back of the room, with a family member, who in their slurred speak told me, “If he doesn’t propose to you soon, I will.”  I had to quiet them down as the room became quiet.

Chuck started his speech with “Some of you hoped, but many of you never thought this would happen, it has been 8 years…”  My brain frantically went in two directions 1.) “OMG he is proposing!!” 2.) “Oh goodness, he is really drunk.  This sounds like a proposal, but this might be a drunken rant and it is going to be a major let down”.  I tried to keep my composure thinking what else could possibly be 8 years as he continued a romantic speech, that I fail to remember. Then he said “Jeannine, please come up here.”  I was frozen, I couldn’t move.

Literally, the people around me melted away and I was in this white fog.  I was in complete shock. 

His Aunt came over and took my arm and pulled me to the front of the room.  He put the microphone down, got on one knee and opened an empty ring box.  (The ring had actually fallen out and we found it on the floor after).  There were no tears, just utter shock. I had settled on the idea he would never propose, the ring would sit on the desk forever and we would be domestic partners. I managed to squeak out a ‘Yes’.  Then family, friends and complete strangers hugged and kissed us. As his Aunt hugged me she asked to see the ring and that is when we realized it was on the floor.

Original Ring

Unfortunately my parents and his brother weren’t there because Chuck kept it a secret from everyone for the element of surprise.  He didn’t even ask my Father for my hand in marriage. Chuck knows I inherited my horrible secret-keeping skills from my parents.

A little while later brother and girlfriend came flying through the door. I was lifted off my feet and swirled me around.  The rest of the night is a blur but I remember lots of hugs, kissed and people asking if we had set a date – within hours of being proposed too.  By the end of the night we had settled on Spring/Summer 2012.

Throughout the night as people asked to see the ring I would show them my fist.  This was because the ring was too big and I had to grip it to keep it straight and because I was forced to quickly peel off the left over gel manicures for decent presentation.  I am sure the clean-up crew wondered where the red sparkle paint came from.

It truly was a magical night and completely changed my feelings towards New Years Eve.  I love recollecting this story because he managed to take my breathe away and turn years of hatred into one of the best memories of my life.

The best part is that our engagement date is Jan. 1, 2011 or 1.1.11.  Prior to being engaged I would always tell him to make a wish at 11:11.  

Little did I know my dreams would come true with those same 4 digits.

Our Engagement Photo 1.1.11

Happy New Year From Our Home To Yours! 

 

Our First Dance Wedding Song:

An Ode, A Ring and Some Memories

The holidays are here! Can you believe it? I mean wear did November go? I blinked (and didn’t blog) and it was over! Today is a very special day for me, it would have been my grandmother’s birthday. I was very close to my Dad’s mother who passed away 12 years ago. My paternal grandparents lived in the house in front of us and I had the luxury of seeing them everyday. My grandfather passed away when I was 17, my grandmother passed when I was 19. I was extremely close to both of them but closer to “Mam” in particular. Perhaps it was because our birthdays were just 3 days apart and we had similar Sagittarian qualities. Or the fact she had two sons and I was one the closest things she had to a daughter. Or most likely I saw her everyday of my life.

Our bond is unbreakable. I think of her often and am at peace knowing she is watching over me. This is the bond I have. I am lucky to be surrounded by reminders, little seeds that she planted when she was alive.

  • Whenever I bake, I feel her presence and think of the things she used to say to me. “You will think of me someday after I have passed and know this is wise advice.”
  • I must have afternoon tea, a habit she got me into.
  • Anytime, I see a cardinal, I look for its mate. Something she always did, when I see the pairing, I like to think it is her and my grandfather together.
  • And this beauty.

She gave me this ring. I remember the day clearly. I had to have been 12 years old. It was a Saturday morning, she was making her bed and I was over visiting and playing in her jewelry box. I loved the ring so much and would always try it on. This was the day she told me I could have it. I always dreamed I would be proposed with this ring. Any my husband caught onto the many hints I left.

The original center stone, blue zircon was cracked. We had to replace the stone and added diamonds per my step mother-in-law’s gift to make it more like an engagement ring. To this day, I receive so many compliments and I love it because not only is it authentic and has many special memories attached. She is with me wherever I go and is never far away. I am truly blessed to have had such a kindred spirit in my life.

Have you every experienced a relationship with another, where after they pass you still think about them everyday?