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To those faithful readers…

I know that it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated here. After my mother’s death, things became difficult in ways I was not expecting. It made it difficult for me to update properly, and quite frankly, I just wasn’t motivated to do it anyway.

It wasn’t that I stopped grieving over Jon, or was too busy. But losing my mother brought out a side of grief in me that I wasn’t expecting. In short, I became somewhat numb. I could really only handle the basics. I took care of my girls and my household, but otherwise, I had a hard time dealing and accepting her death for awhile.

Without Jon and without my mother, the isolation became something almost too hard to avoid. I found myself in a place where I didn’t quite know where I fit. My in-laws have moved on, along with my other family. Everyone I know is pretty much tired of hearing our sob story, (and they’ve made sure to let me know.) To put it bluntly: my girls and I are pretty much on our own, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Some days are definitely better than others, and I’ve worked hard to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for my daughters.  We stay involved in church and stay close to those who make the effort. This is our new normal.

Over the past five months or so, my body started to react to all the stress of the past five years. Anxiety and depression came on stronger than I ever thought it could, and it put my most creative outlets out of commission for awhile. I felt that I had no choice but to go back to counseling, and seek out treatment. I am happy to say that I’ve come a long way in the past two months. I still struggle with anxiety and some other things, but I am much better off than I was before. The good news is that my prayer life is stronger than ever, too. 🙂

Anyway, I feel like it’s time to say that I no longer feel like writing in this blog anymore. I don’t believe I’m “actively grieving” as I once was, even though I’m clearly dealing with leftover emotional fallout. Instead, the things I’m dealing with are more private in nature, and I would rather not talk about them here.

I’ll probably start a new blog one of these days that’s more general, as far as my life and thoughts go. I don’t know when that will be, however. For now, it’s just contemplation.

I don’t plan on deleting this blog and if my previous entries are of any comfort to anyone, please feel free to comment if you need to. I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

Thank you all for the past five years of support. It’s definitely been the hardest five years of my life, but I’m glad I was able to vent and discuss things here, without real fear of judgement. When I look back on some of the things I’ve written, I can definitely see how far I’ve come since Jon died, and how much better my mentality is. I’m happy to say I’m a lot less petty than I used to be, and I’m a lot more compassionate. Regardless of the difficulties I’ve faced, I’m happy with who I’ve turned out to be.

With that said, I wish you all peace, love, prosperity and comfort.

God Bless you.

Maria

I know I haven’t written much in the past few months. Dealing with my mother’s death so close to the saddiversary made things difficult to process. Writing about it has been hard. That being said: A post is forthcoming regarding the four-year anniversary. I just have to write out this idea, right now.

In regards to the on-going debate over whether or not widowed people have it better or worse than divorcees; there is something that both parties often overlook. We explain the experience, (most of the time in vain, because the description doesn’t quite convey the actual feeling), but we don’t put a word to our distinction.

The distinction is the lack of closure. We have to practically make it up ourselves. There isn’t a paper to sign to admit defeat. We don’t have a tangible break point from which we can launch our rebirth. Instead, we are left wandering in the dark, fumbling around to get our bearings. We have leftover affection, love and need for our spouses, that up until the point of death, is usually returned. Similar to divorcees, we have to figure out what to do with these feelings. We also have anger, frustration, a sense of abandonment, confusion, a sense of worthlessness, depression and a struggle to believe in a happy future. And we cannot blame anyone for them. We know that blaming our spouses for abandoning us by death is ridiculous, but we feel that way anyway. We know that being angry at our spouses for dying is pointless, but we feel it anyway. And it has no where to go. As a divorcee, I had plenty of blame, not just for my ex, but for myself for being so stupid and selfish. As a widow, I know my husband never wanted to just leave me here to face life alone. He died and it wasn’t his fault. I can’t blame myself, because I didn’t kill him. What then? I have spent four years having to let that go. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

A conversation with a very intelligent friend of mine really opened my eyes to this. As a group of confused and hurting people, we often turn to “industry standards” when dealing with similar symptoms of two very different life experiences. It is impossible to do. As a person who has been both a divorcee and a widow, I know the differences and how I perceive them. However, I also know that they shouldn’t be compared. In order to appreciate the difficulties of both, you cannot compare them. They are both hard. Is one harder? I think so, but that’s subjective. It’s also not up for debate.

I know that this is all a matter of opinion. And I realize that there are people who would argue without end how much better I have it because my spouse didn’t choose to reject me, (or vice versa. A choice a widowed person doesn’t get either, by the way). But I think it’s important for people to see the distinction, whether they are equally as painful, or not.

This is just a small process of thought that I’ve been chewing on for awhile. I respect the opinion of others, but I do resent the idea that anyone who hasn’t been through this experience feels as though they can identify. Maybe in small things, but you can’t say it’s the same thing. It is not. I also recognize that resenting that sort of presumptuousness does not mean it invalidates someone else’s pain. I’m not saying you can’t hurt. I’m not saying you don’t hurt badly. But I am saying that even if you’re also a divorcee and a widow, you still can’t know exactly how I feel and you have no right to compare.

What do you do when the dust starts to settle? Do you clean it up and hope that nothing else makes a mess?

I think that sometimes, I feel like I have to force perfection on every situation until it becomes out of joint and dramatic again. I don’t want to do that this time.

I know this may sound wrong, (or not), but I don’t want to rock any more boats. I don’t want to cause any more trouble than anything is worth. I just want to live my life, however long it may be, in peace. I’ve noticed that in the past year or so, I’ve cut out a lot of negativity and bad crap. (And there really is no better title for it) I did it impulsively in some cases, and I did others with a lot of thought. If there is anything that my widowhood has taught me, it’s that I am completely in control over what I can control. It sounds redundant, but there are times when you have to take the selfish road, and think about yourself. Not always, but there are definitely times.

I’m still in the process of clearing away the junk, but it’s hard not to stop and think: Wow, things feel so much lighter now! I don’t care about so many things I used to care about. And my own personal B.S detector works so much better. Whether or not someone is lying or being truthful, I can tell from a much further distance. It’s enabled me to avoid things. It’s amazing what a little foresight can do.

I know – I have the ugly habit of being vague and confusing at times. (Like right now) I don’t mean to be. I’m just really proud of myself for having this perspective. It’s one of the biggest things I loved about Jon. He had such a sense of foresight and mental calm. There were days he spent discouraged by what he perceived in people he thought he could trust. But he also knew better than to stay connected to those people, and he did so without major issue. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to avoid drama as smoothly as Jon did, but I know I can avoid it.

I’m going through another phase of grief that I don’t understand. The last time was last December. I had a feeling of immense peace that seemed to come almost overnight. Suddenly, it didn’t hurt to miss him as much as I did. Life was moving along at its normal pace, and I finally felt like I had caught up with it. That incessant pain I felt in the first few years, (that I had gotten used to), was no longer there. Sure, I loved him still, and I missed him just as much; but I was set free from feeling like every day was one big chore. It was like the brick that had settled in my chest was just gone, one morning. It hasn’t been back.

Now, I feel like I am not on chaos-mode anymore. I don’t have to come out with my fists swinging, ready to make the world spit teeth. There seems to be much more time to consider things, to make decisions with a clear head. I have a lot going on. I’m preoccupied with my mother’s illness, and making sure my kids wake up everyday in a normal house. And I can actually focus on these things. My grief isn’t getting in the way. It’s such a separate part of my life now, that it confuses me. Even though I still struggle with lack of sleep and missing my husband in the dark nights.

But it’s not breaking me down, destroying all the work I do during the day.

Sometimes, I still indulge in how much I miss Jon. Sometimes, I still feel the need to fantasize about what it would be like if he were still here. Would we still be as happy as we were? Would he still have his job? Would we still be in this city, fighting the same fight? In my fantasies, we are still as we were. It’s nice to think that we could weather anything coming our way, because we loved each other so much. We loved each other, so very much.

I know how long it’s been since he passed away. A lot of my life stopped then. I look back and realize how far I’ve come from that moment nearly 3 and a half years ago. I still feel like I’ve fallen more than I’ve accomplished. I’ve had to stop and re-do more times than I can count.

But things are changing once again. I feel like things are coming to some weird sort of closure. And yes when I type this, it doesn’t sound quite right. Closure isn’t the best word. I don’t know exactly what is, but I am peaceful. In my heart, I am peaceful.

I’m anxious. Today/tomorrow – its your birthday.

I keep waiting for something to happen. Like, I’ve been anticipating it for a week, now, and the truth is that it’s just another day.

I know that I am grateful you were born, as I always am. But really, having to know that I can’t bake you another cake, or buy you something else off of your Amazon wish list makes me not want to celebrate the anniversary of your birth at all.

It’s not the giving of gifts or the breaking of bread that makes it a birthday. Everyone knows this.

It’s the indulgent celebration of life that is a lot easier to celebrate with the guest of honor in living presence.

I know what people will tell me, about having to “remember the good times..”[as if I could forget], or to read down a list of possible depression symptoms..”just in case.”

But I know that I will miss you. I’m always going to miss you.

I miss you on days when our daughters are tired and ornery, or when we hear the rolling desert thunder. Those days, that start like any other, and end just the same. All those hours in-between: I miss you.

And even though, I know for a fact that nothing more than us missing you, and remembering you on your birthday is all that will happen tomorrow; I still feel the subconscious reminder, like distant rolling thunder, that somehow there’s a storm coming.

I may not see it. I may not feel it. But I know it’s there. I can almost count on it. It’s going to batter my shores, and moisten the air. It’s going to
shake the ground beneath me a bit, so that my stomach drops when the Earth shifts. All while the rest of the world spends one last heated afternoon behind a grill, beer in hand.

I will miss you. I will wake up, and wish that I could hold you, and smile in your face. To simply wish you a Happy Birthday, and see how it will pan out by your side.

A living, breathing you, that was never taken away from me.

It makes me anxious to long for something that will never happen, and do it knowingly. To set myself up for disappointment, if only to feel the expected pain of longing for something I know I will not have.

And I will revel in it, because it means that you are a part of me. Because I am grateful for the chance to miss you. Even if that’s the only thing left.

This three-year mark passed very quietly. I didn’t make a huge spectacle of the third year of your passing. I didn’t plan an event or even write you a public letter, as I have done in the past. (until now, of course.)

It’s not that I didn’t think of you. In fact, I think I thought of you every second of that entire day. I think we were in constant conversation, as I struggled to finalize what I thought would be proof of my great healing. I wanted people to see that I can handle my life without you, and that it didn’t take that long to get here.

The truth is that I CAN handle life without you, but it’s taken some serious effort. And that effort still hurts. But for the Grace of God, have I strived to face each day with a grasp of any hope I can find. Because I miss you. And because I love you, still.

I have a learned a few things, and they have re-shaped my entire mentality. When this all started and you left me behind, I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my entire life. I couldn’t look forward to my future, because all that I had ever wanted selfishly, was taken away in one horrible, tragic moment.

Simply stated: my world was destroyed. Not my ENTIRE world, but everything I had built-in my little universe that I felt would fulfill me and make me happy for the rest of my life. You were the root of that happiness and the plan of my future. You were the love of my heart, and the soul of my identity. It took your carnal graduation, (for lack of a better term), to break down the false idealisms I had built around myself. I wanted to be responsible for my own happiness. I did not want to relinquish control of my life, even unto God, without making sure that you were part of my existence and our life would continue together.

But God always has other plans. And I’ve learned over the past three years that He doesn’t always share them with us; especially while we are making our own. Instead, He waits patiently while we contrive and operate our little systems of thought, for us to finally ask Him to step in and take over. Like us, He won’t accept simple navigational responsibilities. He wants the entire operation, and His place is the Captain’s Helm.

Does this mean that He took you away from me to teach me how to trust Him? No. But I believe He allowed you to be a part of my life because I could learn this lesson no other way. Your time on this planet was short, from the time you were born. In retrospect, all of our time is short. But in comparison, you were born into a life that would not last as long as others. Your affliction was genetic. You were born with weak veins, that had weak walls. Like your father and paternal grandmother before you, you would succumb to their weakness, unless you somehow found out about them before they gave way.

Like an ill-fated house next to a river bank, your levees were not strong enough to contain the flood.

This had nothing to do with me. This had nothing to do with you, really. Had you been able to control your aneurysms, you might have prolonged your lifespan. But not without much suffering and high risk. It does not make your life any less lived, or any less important. But only that your time was shorter than mine.

And even still, I believe that we were brought together to love and comfort each other. To procreate and bring our daughter into the world. I believe that we were meant to be together, even for the short time allotted, if only to teach each other what it means to love unconditionally, despite circumstance.

I do not believe in marriage after death, therefore you are no longer the husband I married. But you are still my family, and I look forward to the reward of seeing you in eternity, someday. This was my very first hope, and I clung to it like driftwood. It brought me to the possibilities that hoping in a promise such as this might bring. It was a seed that birthed my faith. Not a platitude of random words and pretty pictures, but a real faith, in something that I either have to deny fully or accept fully. I chose to accept, and thus, my healing began. It never stopped, even in the midst of my pride, my anger and my complacency. Today, no one can shake me from what I choose to believe. My faith in God, His plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ and the promise of living forever in His presence was essential in helping me accept what I have lost on this Earth. That faith will never be shaken.

And despite all that I have learned. Despite the strength I have gained, and the hope I can no longer shake by the mention of Death or anything else, I have not lost the love I had for you from the very beginning. I do not understand how this will pan out in God’s great plan, but I am not worried about it. For now, my heart remains oddly sated, even though I have not heard you speak my name for more than three years.

If you are looking upon me, as your earthly wife, and the mother of your children, I hope you see a woman who is healing, and finally at peace with our separation. I truly believe God has great things in mind for me, and for our girls. And despite what people may interpret, I still believe you peek in on us, even now. I know you are around. Just as I know that the Holy Spirit comforts me, guides and gets rather frustrated with me on a daily basis 😉

I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to go through and to process. But I have The Peace that passes ALL understanding. It is a current of hope within my heart that reminds me that everything will be OK in the end. And if it isn’t yet OK, it’s not the end.

I love you always, my Jonathan. I know you know this. I still cannot wait to see you again.

Maria

It’s important to point out that it happens, just like that. I’m talking about grief and how it can attack you at anytime, no matter how far away you are from Point A. 

It can be so quick. I could be reading a book called Little Bee, and there is a character, and she is Sarah. She is missing a finger, and laughs because it still itches. And the grim-faced policemen are forced to blurt out the news that her husband died suddenly at his home. Apparently, he just dropped dead, just like that. And she gets to pick out an oak casket, and she gets to explain to a four-year-old what death means. And she marvels at how it hasn’t even hit her yet.

Well…why would it? But she isn’t real, and her character-husband didn’t really die, and even though it’s true how oddly funny funeral salespeople can be, (oak is such a classic choice). I didn’t go with oak. I went with aluminum, (I think?). It was a brushed silver casket, because Jon liked brushed silver, and I picked some sort of golf stationary, (Oh? Did he golf, too?) and it was only because it had trees. Jon liked trees.He never golfed.

Suddenly, I am there. I am right back in that odd-smelling office, with the odd-cookie-baking sales guy, who was LDS and didn’t want to be buried with shoes. I hate the smell of lilies and old coffee. I hate the look of gleaming brushed silver, and I hate the pall of old, yellowed memories that find their way through the words of some stupid book that was great all the way up until now.

I don’t even want to read the rest of the book, (which is undoubtedly very good), because I don’t want to read how the author totally messes up the real season of grief that his Sarah-character won’t really go through. It will just be a blemish on her weird, written up world, but I won’t be able to ignore it. I won’t be able to pretend that his Sarah didn’t lose her husband to quick death, like I lost mine. It will bother me until I read the same passage again and again, and marvel at how she doesn’t seem to be feeling the same way I felt. Until I remember that she doesn’t breathe the way I do, and she doesn’t really exist the way anyone does.

 And this, my friends, is how Grief, with its ever-present rumble, its low-vibrating scowl, can sneak up and destroy you in two minutes.

We should win awards for how well we are able to quickly pull ourselves together and pretend it never happened. Books, magazines, blogs, billboards….they should all come with warning labels. Mine fields ahead.

Weslee woke up with me this morning, and we were silent for a minute. I did what I always do, and read through my Twitter feed to help stimulate my brain  and wake up. (Don’t judge – it works)

I read www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post and it choked me up. My favorite part was the last: “I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Suddenly, after I was following some of his tags, Weslee spoke for the first time that morning.

“I miss Daddy. I wish he was here. How come he can’t come down and visit us?”

It’s so hard to explain to her what death is, and why it happens the way it does. For now, she knows that his head got sick, and the doctors couldn’t fix it. I told her that they did the best they could, but sometimes it doesn’t work. And she likes to think that he’s in Heaven, building her a castle to live in when it’s time for her to go there. I told her it won’t be for a long time, (which was as much for myself as for her), and she said she knows.

It’s funny how this type of thing happens during this time of year. Since the first year out, there’s a part of my subconscious that knows the date is coming, and reacts to it. I can be totally preoccupied with my mom’s health, or the girls or anything else, and I can feel it. I feel run down, and my mind is distracted.

More so than normal.

Aurora brought it up to me the other day, too. She misses him. And like me, she wonders where we would be right now, had Jon never died. Like her, I have no idea.

This year, the pain is less. It’s not that I don’t miss Jon, or that I’m getting over it, so to speak. It’s more that the missing him doesn’t hurt as much. I was so afraid to get to a place where it didn’t hurt as much, because I thought that it would make me miss him less. I thought it would make me lose him.

I was wrong. I miss him just as much as I ever did. And there hasn’t been a single moment where I don’t wish he was with me.

But the pain of all those wishes and the pain that usually resides in the emptiness he left is going away. I wait and wait for that ever-present kick-to-the-gut feeling I normally get when I miss him and need him at any given moment….and it’s no longer there.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get triggered. I do, in the weirdest ways. There are still places I haven’t gone, and things I haven’t done that I know remind me far too much of how much I have lost, and how much I love him still. And sometimes, just thinking of those places produces that same gut-wrenching feeling of loss, that same painfully dry emptiness, that I have become accustomed to, and have learned to avoid like mines in a field.

This is year three. And I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d be able to say how much easier it has been, but it has. Perhaps it has to do with the things I’m dealing with in my present life, or just that I have made decisions to progress, even when I didn’t feel like doing so. There have been so many times when I haven’t wanted to get up and face my life, and so many times when I had to over-caffeinated myself just to follow through with the basic stuff. I have to be honest and admit that being a parent hasn’t given me the choice to wallow, and it’s been the best excuse to keep going. But I shouldn’t need one, and I know this.

Lately, I haven’t had to use an excuse to get up and live my life. I won’t use some ridiculous platitude to explain it way, either. I don’t feel like I’m learning to “dance in the rain” or any other such nonsense. Instead, I think I’ve done the most basic, simple thing: I have accepted.

I keep saying that I’m learning to accept, or that I’m in the process of accepting…all these things were true in the past. It was a process that I had to either follow through with or continue waiting for my Prince to walk through my front door and tell me the “The truck is runnin’ woman! Lets go!”

How nice would that be?

That’s not going to happen, though. And as I continue on with my life, I realize that it’s OK to let Jon go, more and more. As I do, I have discovered something remarkable to me, that I had never expected: I can miss him, and love him and think about him as much as I want, and let him go at the same time.

Really. It sounds contradictory to those of us who never want to let go of what we had with our spouses, but it’s the truth. I still love him very much, and I still miss him always, but he is there, and I am here, and it is OK.

Really, it is.

I even notice him around still, in his daughter’s eyes or catching his scent on a passing breeze. I know he is there, and I know we are OK. I know that I can keep going, knowing I can take the best of us and what we were, into my future, whatever it brings. Being Jon’s wife was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it has permanently adjusted who I am, guiding me into being who I want to be.

My new normal finally feels like just normal. And for the first time in three years, I can’t wait to see what my future looks like.

I’m almost three years out, and while I’m handling life fairly well, ( I think), I still have my moments of major frustration. Especially in regards to explaining things to people.

I know – Why explain? Why do strangers deserve any explanation in regards to MY life? I wish I could tell you how cool I am for not ever caring what people think about my social status, but the truth is that I am constantly comparing myself to other parents or mothers or even other wives. I want to give my children the most normal, functional life they can hope to have. And likewise, I’d like to enjoy what’s left of it. Unfortunately, the words “Single Mother” make it difficult to do in this society.

When I tell people I am a single mother, they usually nod. Some are sympathetic. Others shake their head in disgust. I’ve even had some people ask me whose fault that is, as if I should hang my head down in shame because I’m parenting children on my own.

My youngest daughter was 19 months when her father died. She knew something was different, if not wrong, because she began to really react to almost every new environment. It was hard for me, in the first few months especially, to stay focused on parenting when I could barely function myself. Whenever we were out in public, I couldn’t sit down for a meal because she couldn’t sit still. Meltdown status was always right beneath the surface for her, and my oldest and I had a hard time with the stares and the sneers. The people who obviously either had perfect children or none at all were always offended by our presence. In the mall, at the grocery store, at church – I was the mom who “obviously needed God in her life, because no Godly household would have a child acting like that.” (Yes. That was said to me once, too.)

I tried to explain myself a few times. I tried to explain that I was a widow, whose husband died very suddenly. No, he wasn’t a drug addict. (Because only drug addicts die suddenly.) And no, he wasn’t overweight. His aneurysm was genetic. I have the paperwork explaining it all. There have been many times when I felt like pulling it out and having those who so rudely commented on my life read it and understand that I had no hand in this. That I would have NEVER wanted Jon to die and leave me with two children to raise by myself. And that I know as much as anyone else (probably more so), that he was the smarter, wiser, calmer, stronger and braver one of the two of us. As much as it pains the ego to admit, I probably needed a lesson as powerful and life-changing as this one to get over myself and become the person I would much rather be.

As I become her, I realize that I owe no one any explanations. I realize that my faith in God is solid, and that He speaks for me when my life is in question. I realize that will raise my kids the BEST way I know how, through Christ who strengthens me. And Yes, it IS possible for someone to get married, divorced, married again and then widowed by the time they are 31. I am not an anomaly, and my girls are not living in a ‘broken home.” Everything in this house is in fine working order. I make sure to keep it that way.

When my children grow up and have families of their own, the only real thing that will matter is that I am their mother. That is all the explanation that anyone really needs.

I’ve recently been clear-minded enough to figure out some things regarding my healing and grief recovery. For one thing, I notice that certain triggers that I used to avoid no longer affect me the same way. I’ve heard that this happens, and it’s part of the process. I agree, although I think there is an element of participation that is imperative in order for the process to work.

It came to me two ways. First, I made the choice to not look at my grief as a medical condition, as opposed to a life experience. I refused to be medicated, save for the first week or so, because I was fearful of prolonging the process that I was aware I needed to go through. I don’t know exactly why I thought this way, especially in the first weeks, but I was bound and determined to let it hurt, and it surely did.

It was painful enough that I have blocked out most of the first three months from my memory. Even now, as I look back and read what I was writing, here and in my personal journal, I have a hard time reading and absorbing the overwhelming emotional trauma I was experiencing. It’s almost as if I experience it again, and it still hurts.

But I also notice that it hurts less. Much less than it has in the past year.

Secondly, I noticed that the more I listened to painful songs that reminded me of my marriage and husband, the easier they were to listen to. They still hurt, and they still triggered a grief release, but that has significantly lessened with time. This is also true with pictures, movies and any other signifiers that I’ve connected with my marriage.

I made a playlist last year, specifically designed to trigger a release. I wanted to hang on to what I was experiencing, and I think I was afraid to forget and have it sneak up on me. That has happened quite often and I hate it. I hate when grief just shows up out of nowhere, and decides to ruin an afternoon, or keep me up for a night.

I suppose it was my way of controlling my grief, because I’m a serious control freak, but I also felt that if I was going to feel it, I may as well face it and get it over with.

Amazingly, I’ve found healing through this method. I had to face down what hurt, and why it hurt. I had to tear it apart, and dissect it, in order to absorb and accept it. By doing so, I’ve found that only the good memories are left. And yes, they sometimes still hurt, but I am not crippled with grief in a supermarket, or bawling my eyes out on the freeway.

I’ve built something of an immunity to a lot of my random grief attacks, and it’s given me a measure of core strength. Something that I haven’t experienced since before my husband died. It’s that solid secure feeling of facing down the enemy, or weathering a storm.

I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet, however. There are new things that I find, buried deep beneath the surface. Perhaps I will always find something that will spring up like a green stem, despite my efforts to purge it all out. I am ok with this. If there’s anything I’ve learned (although I don’t always practice the theory), it’s that I can only control myself and how I react. Sometimes, that’s too difficult, and I have to allow grief to have its moment. It’s all about picking ones battles.

But I’m getting much better at navigating this journey – and yes, I do believe it’s a journey. I do believe that someday, I will be healed enough to love my husband’s memory and not still try to cling to him as a living person. I know I will see him again, but other than that promise, I know that I am on my own. The pain of that statement still stings. I am not yet ready to say I have accepted this life, but I am definitely in the process of accepting it.

The measure of peace I’ve felt in the past few months has been astounding in comparison to what I’ve felt in nearly three years. It has been enough to keep me focused on my plans for this year. I no longer feel that the life I want is out of my reach. I just don’t l know the distance it is from my grasp.

It feels good to write that I am progressing. I’m not just riding out the bumps in the road, either. I’m actually enjoying the ride. A little. 🙂

 

I just got another Futureme.org email I sent to myself years ago, when I was still living in Germany.

It was a hard letter to read. I was full of self-pity, but I was also full of immense hope.

I had no idea what would happen to us, and what life would be like if I really got what I wanted. There are no guarantees.

Naturally, I went to the site, to write another one to myself, and hopefully encourage myself for this time next year. (I’m not going that far ahead anymore…)

And somehow, I found this:

http://futureme.org/letter/211993-so-how-is-life-now

It was written by a woman in January of 2006, and sent to herself  10 months later.

Her question: “How’s life now?” is heavy with hope, with frustration and with uncertainty. Her husband suffered the same affliction that killed  mine, and yet hers lived.

It makes me wonder many things. Would this have happened to us? Would I have been able to handle it? Like those who have never lost a spouse, I will never know unless it happens to me, but it’s scary to think about.

It’s scary because it puts me in a great conundrum. Would I rather have Jon live, if he were to exist this way? To be completely incapacitated, after being such a brilliant and able-bodied man? A man who would have surely far surpassed his own goals and aspirations and then some. A man who taught me to look forward to our future.

And maybe I am reading into it far too much, but Jon would be miserable like that. To live for so long as a broken man, forever behind what he was before.

Would it be worth it, even if I could have him here with me?

I might say, two years ago, that it would be. That I would be ready and willing to nurse him back to health, no matter how long it took. And I might be happy just to have him with me, regardless of whether we had real conversations anymore. Because his loss is so incredibly great and painful.

But Jon would never had wanted this. And his prognosis was so poor. The neurologist gave him a five percent chance at life, and said he would most likely be a vegetable.

I didn’t care then. And I still don’t. But I know that he would. I know that he would have never wanted to exist that way, even if it meant twenty more years with the girls and me.

I am not judging this poor woman of her decisions to prolong her husband’s precious life. I am confident I would have made the exact same ones. I would have done what I could to help Jon live, no matter what it took. But it’s hard to think that maybe Jon wouldn’t have wanted it that way.

The lesson, I think, is that no matter what the outcome of tragedy is, we can always choose to find a way to survive it. This woman has a firm grip on the life she has chosen, and regardless of the battles ahead, she is not afraid of her decisions. I had no decision to save Jon, because it was too late for us. But I do have a decision to survive our outcome.  I want to hope, like this woman, that despite the tragedy, I will still be happy.

And I hope that the letter found her in a world of miracles, where she is now able to have wonderful conversations with her husband. I miss those so much.