Today is the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. The one that has the least amount of time with sunlight. Today is also Gary’s birthday, the first since he passed.

When we had just begun our relationship we were on a road trip with his family around the holidays. We stopped at a dusty little town in the middle of nowhere for lunch. As we left the restaurant his parents and sister were slightly ahead of us, and as I walked toward the vehicle I realized Gary was no longer by my side. I turned and saw him talking to a middle aged man that obviously had had a rough night. Gary looked at him, in the eyes, and asked him what he needed and the dude replied “i don’t know where I am, no one will tell me and I don’t know how to get home”. Without hesitation Gary hugged the man who was obviously distraught, and said “don’t worry, it’s ok, now let’s get you home”. I saw a change in that scared man, he melted a little, his shoulders dropped and i could see he believed Gary. After a few questions Gary discovered that sure enough that he was about 60 miles from home. He walked him to the Greyhound station and bought his ticket home.

I knew in that moment that i had somehow found the kindest person I would ever meet, that kindness was how he lived his life. Over the years i discovered he would always do the same for me, hug me until my shoulders relaxed, tell me not worry, then help me find my way back. No one had ever done that for me, but he set me on a path of living a life that I can be proud of.

Gary always grimaced that his birthday was on the darkest day of the year – but what he didn’t realize was that his being born was the beginning of things getting better for many. You held the hope for so many people that light was coming, the days will be longer and brighter, and that there is nothing to worry about, my solstice man.