I never quite knew what to call you.
“My father’s life partner” felt too superficial; it didn’t address our relationship. “Stepfather” felt inaccurate; it wasn’t legal for you and my dad to get married. Dad called you my “confidante.” I guess I thought of you as “my Mitchell.”
I despised you as a kid because I didn’t understand who you were or why you came into our lives. You didn’t like me much either; I was a self-centered brat who always left her towels on the floor. As the years passed, however, we got used to each other and then grew to love each other. I came to be very proud that you were part of my family.
You were one of a kind. I adored the mischievous glint in your twinkling blue eyes, your Ken-doll blonde hair, enviable tan and perfect calf muscles. I delighted in your love of mangoes and beaches, your adventurous spirit, your Brooks Brothers style, and your cascading chuckle. Most of all, I cherished the way you loved my father and the beautiful home you built together, the friendship you developed with my mother, the respect you paid our family, and the way you embraced our Jewish roots.
You’ve been gone for over 10 years but your mark on my life and your place in my heart have only grown stronger over time. You instilled in me a sense of unwavering optimism, and I'm grateful for that every day. Your parents, Reenie and Leroy Jensen, were two of the kindest souls I ever met, and they raised you well. They were there to guide you into the afterlife with love and support. I like to imagine that you're reunited as they, too, have passed on from this life.
I often wonder what you would think of the world today. What would you have said about gay marriage being legalized? What would you think about the staggering advances in technology? What advice and encouragement would you offer as I make life decisions, both big and small? What would our relationship look like today?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think you’d be happy to know that I’m learning to delight in the mysteries of life.
What I do know is what to call you now. You are my angel.