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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.

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I’ve written here before about the plight of my mother’s illness, and now, I write of her memory. Since this is a public grieving blog, I feel it is appropriate to memorialize her here, along with my husband Jon.

My mother, Michaelina Bellamy, passed away Saturday morning from complications due to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was 59 years old. She fought very hard for over a year, and in the end, was so worn out from all the medications, the chemo and the illness itself, that her body could not take any more. She did not want to die when she did, but I know she is in Heaven, with the Savior she believed in and all her family members before her. She is no longer in pain, and I can imagine her with a full head of her beautiful blond hair. I believe this with all of my heart.

I’ve been trying to write about my mom since she left this Earth and finally found peace. It’s been difficult. When I think of her, I try not to see her lying in the ICU, pale and barely alive, breathing on a ventilator. I hate that memory. I hate that I keep thinking I need to call her, or run by the hospital for something. Last night, when I drove by along the freeway, I realized I had no need to go back there again. As much as I hated having to see her in there, it broke my heart. I have voice mails from her, from a month ago, where she’s asking me to bring her a smoothie. I wish I had the opportunity to do that again.

And of course, as is the nature of the beast called Grief, my emotions have been all over the place. Some moments, I’m OK, and everything is Business As Usual. Then, out of no where, the idea of her missing something she would like, or the daunting task of going through all her things brings it all upfront. I’m crippled with the idea that she’s gone. And she’s gone for good. ūüė¶

I know what I believe. I believe I’ll see her again, and I really do look forward to that day. But after grieving for my husband for the past 4 years, I realize that I need to be here, taking care of my girls and holding down the fort until they can handle things themselves. I have learned it is my place to follow through with my life, no matter where it takes me.

However, there is a huge hole in my life now, where my mom once was. It’s hard to fathom that I won’t be able to call her phone and talk to her anymore. It’s hard to believe that I won’t ever see her sing live on stage, or play with her grandchildren. It’s hard to accept that she is simply gone, even if it’s to a much better place. It hurts, and it’s hard.

My mother wasn’t always orthodox. She didn’t spend Sunday nights baking cookies or making school lunches. She mostly worked through the weekends, and slept in past the first bell. She was prettier and younger-looking than the moms of some of my friends, and thus, she was never quite accepted by the “PTA Mothers.” When I was a kid, I resented that. I didn’t want a mom who could sing and was on tour all the time. I wanted a mom who took us to ball games and was up for breakfast before we were. I wanted a mom who asked me about my day after school and ate dinner with us at the table, instead of serving us and rushing out the door to a gig.

But that wasn’t the type of mom she was. Instead, she was ambitious, but kind. She was motivated, but sometimes distracted. She had the greatest sense of humor. And she was, more than anything: loving. Even though I spent a lot of my childhood waiting for her to come home from being on the road, I always missed her the same. When she was home, things felt better. I could be mad at her for leaving, but so happy when she was finally home. I was always old enough to know what I was missing, but I was so proud of her accomplishments.

She could do anything. She crocheted blankets, sewed costumes, cooked amazing meals, baked amazing pies, canned preserves (her plum jam was to die for!), fixed anything electronic, (Her first MOS in the military was mechanical. Believe it or not, ¬†she was going to train to fix planes), and when we were sick, she always seemed to know what to do. She almost never doubted herself, and sometimes, that got her into trouble. If she didn’t doubt herself, she didn’t doubt others either. And she learned some harsh lessons about who she could trust with her career, as well as with her children.

Our relationship was hot and cold when I was a teenager. I was resentful of her distance, and I would push her away when she would come home. Yet, I always wanted her to be my Mom. There were times when she thought being my friend was better than fighting with me all the time. I chose to resent her for that, too. She tried to get it right, and I didn’t let her. Her methods weren’t always good, but she did try.

It wasn’t until I had my own child and my first marriage failed miserably, that I finally comprehended her perspective on our own family. She tried her best to keep us afloat, while my father’s politics kept us living hand-to-mouth. I have no bitterness towards either of them for that, but now that I’ve seen how hard it is when two people have different ideas for what a home life should be like, I don’t blame her for trying to hold up the roof. That meant that she went on the road, some years for 48 weeks at a time. We weren’t starving, and my sisters and I always lived in nice houses in better neighborhoods. But I never quite understood the struggle she had just to make sure it stayed that way. I have nothing against my father for this. For what it’s worth, he did his best, too. Just in a different way.

I blamed her for a lot of things that I had no understanding of. The dynamic between us in my twenties was strained because she refused to be blamed for what she thought were the best decisions, and I was too immature to realize you can’t go on blaming your parents for a past you wish you had but didn’t. And when I finally grasped that, our relationship began to heal. I let her into my life, and she finally answered me without bitterness.

She was in my corner for every struggle I had as a single mom, and after I remarried. She took care of my oldest when my second daughter was born, and helped me regularly, whenever it was needed. She was there when my husband collapsed in our bedroom and protected my youngest from all the scary paramedics and police officers traipsing through our apartment that early morning. And in the year that followed, she saved me from losing my mind. She cooked, cleaned, babysat and even just held me. She slept in our bedroom with me during the first month after Jon died. She refused to leave me alone. She petitioned people to pray for me, and often prayed over me herself. Those were some of the hardest and most painful days of my life, and she supported me through all of them. I could never ask for more than what she gave, and she gave more than I could ever ask for. And I never had to ask.

I think that’s the hardest for me, now. The fact that someone, who is such an integral part of my identity, has passed is incredibly difficult for me to process. You’d think it would be easier after losing Jon, but it is its own sort of hard. Similar, but different. ¬†I have to figure out how to deal with it on my own, without the benefit of her experience or wisdom. Everything in my life is really up to me, even though it technically has been for years. I still feel like I’ve landed once again blind in an unfamiliar landscape. Nothing is impossible, but without her, it’s going to be difficult.

I know have a loving family, and wonderful friends. I know that I will be blessed by their support and love, along with my sisters. I am so grateful for that.

And mostly, I’m grateful for the fact that a young woman, 24 years old and single, decided to have me regardless of what anyone thought. She was on the verge of becoming a star, performing with celebrity after celebrity, dancing and singing on the Las Vegas Strip, for US Presidents and recording with the prestigious Airmen of Note. My existence put a pause on that life and she didn’t care. She wanted me anyway, and welcomed me, despite the difficulties it presented. I was wanted and loved. Always.

My last real words to her were of gratitude. I made sure that she knew how grateful I am to be her daughter. I made sure to tell her how much I appreciate her sacrifices for me over the years. I plan on living my life with Joy and Triumph, just as she did. It is the least I can do for everything that she has done for me.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for everything.

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Michealina Bellamy

June 13, 1952 – April 7, 2012

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.

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.

I keep thinking about the last thing you said, before you slipped away. I told you I dreamt you had forgotten me. You answered, “How could I ever forget you? I love you.”

I told you to see a doctor about your headache. I told you I didn’t want to be left all alone, should something happen to you.

You said, “I’m not going anywhere. You won’t have to be alone forever.”

You chuckled, and one hour later, you were gone.

I am always right about the worst things. I miss you so much.


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 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.

Another Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza is here, and the World is going about its business, preparing for a few days of indulgent celebration. For the past two years, I’ve struggled to ignore the same recurring pangs of Remember-When, as I do my best to join the festivities.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that millions of young widowed people, with or without children, struggle with the same pains, in different ways.

It’s a serious test of our Grief Journey: How well will I handle this year?

Technically, this will be my third Christmas without Jon. I have long past the painful yet foggy Year of Firsts, and even the stark Second Year of Harsh Reality. Both years were a painful climb. And many times last year, I wondered if I would always feel so empty, as if I had nothing to look forward to ever again. I know I’ve asked God countless times if I would ever feel free to really enjoy my life the way I used to.¬† I also believe that the answer will show up if and when I am ready for it. Mostly because I didn’t realize how much I loved my life and how happy I was in it.¬† And also because I know that life is really just a mental perspective, and my happiness might just depend on how much I’m willing to work to get it.

I do know that without this experience, I might have never learned to appreciate what’s really important to me, (without my habit of complaining about menial, petty things).¬† But I also see how things may always be bittersweet, because there is no part of me that will ever dispute that things would be better with Jon here, with me or not, than without him. And I do mean that if it meant that Jon could be alive right now, I’d rather be divorced from him than fight to hold onto even the simple memories of his voice. Before anyone tries to correct me, please note that I have also been through a painful divorce. While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I know the differences firsthand, and can honestly say I prefer it to Death. Call me crazy.

I’m sorry. I’m trying to stay within the structure of my original thought, but I’m having a hard time. It makes perfect sense to me, however, because this time of year messes up my thinking. It seems to me that every time I approach an anniversary or birthday or some other significant holiday, I can feel literally feel the emptiness and loneliness creep up on my like a storm. I subconsciously ignore it, but it’s pain is evident in my jumbled thoughts, and my short temper.¬† I hate to admit it, because I would rather be stronger than this, but I really miss my husband. And as the season grows colder, I long for the days when I had someone to keep me warm. It goes without saying that I long for that someone to be Jon, because I can’t imagine anyone else willing or available for that sort of thing, but sometimes, I remember clearly what I am missing out on, and the idea of not being quite as single as I am becomes very tempting.

What I mean to say, if any of this makes any sense, is that after all this time, I still get tripped up by certain times of the year, when his presence is especially missed. And that I realize it might be a struggle I experience for years to come, until that day that it doesn’t. I thought, once, that it might depend on my own decision to simply let it go and move on, but I am well aware, now, that I do not have control over such things. Indeed, as I try to control my grief, I have learned the hard way that it only causes anger and frustration. I do not have excess time or energy for such things in my life.

Maybe I will always feel this way. Maybe I will always long for Jon like he left yesterday, and maybe I will never have room enough for someone else. While many people consider it a flaw, I am tired of trying to change it. And maybe by admitting it, and accepting it as part of me, I’ll finally be able to open up to something new, or at least, appreciate even more what I still have. All I know for sure is that I still miss and love him, even if I don’t have time to really acknowledge it like I used to.

It’s 40 degrees out. With the wind chill, it feels like 38. May you all have Happy Holidays. May you all find a way to stay warm.

 

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that “time will heal,” or “time will make it better,” I’d have a lot of nickels and no where to put them.

But I am want for nickels and I know from experience that time itself will not heal anything.

Between today and where I was in May of 2008, there has been a lot of laughter, and a million tears. I have cried in anguish, and I have relished accomplishments. I have felt lonelier than I ever have, and I have been grateful for the support of my many friends that never seems to cease. I have lived enough, in these 29 months, to believe that despite the invalidation that such a phrase can conjure in a newly grieving person, it does come from a very profound truth. However, it’s not a truth that can be explained away by an insensitive platitude. It must be experienced.

I now think of time like a vessel. Life and all it’s¬†inhabitants are on a journey, and whether we participate in it or not, that vessel keeps moving, ever forward. You cannot stop it, and you cannot put your hand over your mouth and wave to get off. There have been many times that I have wanted to do so, and despite my retching and desparate waving, I am still along for the ride. Eventually, I chose to participate, and in doing so, I found my first real moments of healing.

The problem with trying to explain my thinking now, to someone who is where I was then, is that newly widowed people are so saturated with Death. It is everywhere we go: in our clothes, in our hair, on our walls, and in our hearts. Like a black hole, it swallows the life we wanted to live completely, and we are left numb and confused, while people struggle to comfort us. It tells only of an unknown future, and that can be completely overwhelming. It scares us into believing that we have no reason to continue, and we feel completely vulnerable. How, then, can a future, that brings us there via time, be of any comfort at all?

The answer is simple, but it stings. And Death wants us to hate it. 

We have to live. That is what time holds in it’s mechanical fingers: life, and the time we have here on Earth. And to most people, that means two of the worst words ever said to the bereaved: Move On.

I totally disagree with this, and call it an outright lie. People have no idea what it means to “move on.” I think that phrase is nothing but an indirect way of saying, “I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

No. Living doesn’t not mean “Moving On,” and I would never suggest anyone try to do that. No one really moves on from anything, in my opinion. Just ask anyone about things they dealt with in their past. Most of them will tell you¬†ever ready sob stories about their difficult childhoods and prior experiences. And if they don’t, they will tell you about the great ones. Either way, they haven’t moved on from those things. They have simply learned to live with them.

We’ve all heard the adage about diamonds, and how they are forged from carbon, ugly and uncut. We all know that a jeweler will work with their many facets, cutting and polishing them until they are worthy to be sold for a large price. We all know that what it takes to end up who we are, whether we are delicate and diplomatic, or stoic and steadfast. Whatever areas we are of strong character, we all know what it has taken to get there.

Like those experiences, this one will cut us a new facet to catch a new light. And it is not necessarily time that will take us there, but a life lived, in pain or in pleasure, between the past and the future. It is a multitude of experiences and lessons that will elevate us to understand that time is irrelevant. What matters is how we lived.

So, another anniversary has passed without you. We didn’t quite make it to our first one, and I had to take the girls to the baseball game by myself. Those were such painful days. That first anniversary was excruciating.

I cannot believe how long it has been since I’ve been part of a couple. I was out with a friend the other night, and we spoke of how nice it is to be in that comfort of relationship. Another friend called it “The New Car Smell” that happens during the beginning of a relationship. It was then that I realized…we never lost that feeling. Despite the trials we faced as a couple, especially in the beginning, we never stopped feeling so in-love with each other. I’ve heard people say “Well, you guys worked on it…” or “You were only together for five years…”

The truth is, we never had to work on it like other couples did/do. Our relationship was so easy, sometimes I had to check myself to make sure we weren’t glossing over reality. Sure, we had fights, and sometimes, I thought we weren’t going to make it…but our fights consisted of you leaving for 15 minutes to gas up the truck. You always came back, calmer, annoyed still…but ready to stick it out with me. You always told me I was stuck with you. That I had no choice, because there was no return policy on us. You could be frustrated with me, and still kiss me goodnight. And I learned, because you taught me, that I could still love you, even when you threw your dirty socks all over the place. Indeed, I love you, still.

Sometimes, I wonder if we would really have stood the “test of time” as it’s called, and I suppose I’ll never know. This year would have been our “seventh” year for that old itch thing. Would we survive it? Would we come out of it still as a couple, and stronger? I hate to think that we would be so stupid as to throw it all away, but I cannot be sure. I’ve been down that road, and though I have never known a love between two people quite like ours, I don’t know where we would be if you were here, in this sweltering July, instead of worlds beyond.

If only I could have the knowledge between what is truly sacred, and what is worthless, without having to lose you. If only I would have been less concerned with worry and reputation, in order to have the most of the five years we did have.  If only I knew that my shot at true love was limited by time, things could possibly have been different.

But would they really? Does anyone really know, even if they are privy to prior knowledge? Because I never would have guessed. I never would have seen myself here, all this way into the future, alone on my anniversary, missing you, missing us, and wondering about all the “if only’s”….

Anyway, I’ve completed part of what you wanted for us. I’ve finally secured us a home that we won’t ever have to move from, God-willing. I get my keys tomorrow, and I’m free to move in any time after that.¬† I wanted you to know, because even though it’s taken me this long, I’ve kept my promise to you, to take care of our girls, and continue with the legacy we started together, on a very hot day in July of 2007.¬† Happy Anniversary, my love.

FYI: My anniversary with my husband was on July 15th. I wasn’t going to publish this letter then, but I’ve decided that it’s ok to post here. I want to look back and remember it, and I can’t think of a better way to do so.