I Love You, Craig. Always Will.

Today is the anniversary of Craig Lundwall's birth. He would be 44 if he were here today. But he is not. He took his life in April, 2001.

I met Craig in confirmation class at the Danbury United Methodist Church when we were in the eighth grade in 1981. I had a crush on him then. He was funny, charming, sweet. What not to love? I looked forward to those classes for the opportunity to sit beside him and to laugh. Once, our pastor, The Rev. Terry W. Pfeiffer, assigned us the responsibility of accolyting together. On that particular Sunday, Craig said something about farting, and I loved him all the more. He was real. He farted.

We met again in high school, remembered the church connection, and evolved into the closest of friends. That friendship endured until he took his life in April, 2001. It's not that we knew each other and liked each other; it's that we loved each other for who we were, no questions or qualifications or complications. We loved each other as friends.

I used to think the world suffered a terrible loss because Craig was gone. I used to think the world could be so much more if he were here.

I was angry and sad. And the sadness and anger got the best of me.

Though I miss Craig, I am neither sad nor angry now. I think now, "Thank you for being here, Craig, and thank you for sharing the road with me for so long." Thank you for making my life beautiful.

I think, "Thank you, Craig."

I think, "I love you."

I think, "Dammit."

The cruelty of this world and all those people who "loved him even though he was gay" got the best of him. Always the qualifier, always the "even though you're not worth it, I love you." Always the "I am better than you, so be grateful" in the I love you.

Craig, I loved you for you. You loved me for me. We set the bar high. That was our gift to each other. You are gone. Now, may I live without compromise. May I love without compromise. May I honor your gift.

Love well. Give everything. Because, dammit, love is beautiful.