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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.

Image

Michealina Bellamy

June 13, 1952 – April 7, 2012

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I suppose I never will.

I can feel like I’m moving in a new direction, or letting go of all the painful things; only to quite suddenly miss him like he died just yesterday.

And in the past week, he’s been back in my thoughts. I long for him in the morning when I wake up, and his name is somehow written on my eyelids when I try to sleep.

It’s not like I have some kind of special date coming up. We’re coming close on the half-year mark, but I know I’m not hung up over it. I passed all my important dates this Summer with grace and ease, relatively speaking. I held my common tears and bit my lower lip in defiance. Grief did not take the best of me this year. I doubt it will do so, again.

But I really miss him lately. For no reason other than I miss him. I miss him enough to dream of his face, and his smile. To have a stolen moment with him, as if I have to ask for one. And his voice was so perfect in my ear, that I lay in bed for a few minutes past dawn, replaying it over and over again.

I wrote more poetry, thinking that would somehow expel what feels like an on-coming storm. It only made me realize how fresh I can bring him to mind.

I don’t have any ¬†clich√©s or fancy words to say this time. I don’t know why I feel surprised that somehow my thoughts of him cannot be reality. I only know that I find myself wondering when I’ll see him next, as if he was just here. I have to remind myself that I can’t wish for what cannot be, and the disappointment feels foreign. I feel as if I am just figuring this all out all over again.

Will it always be this way?


Lucid 

We are ghosts here, pretending the party still lives.

The Sun; to poke his latent fingers through the broken glass,

pays no mind to our borrowed rally, its beams piercing right through.

And in my bony fingers, I possess a thousand breaths, each one

from a different moment touching your skin; and your arms, they

fit like branches around my neck.

We intertwine, growing vines and shedding dead leaves.

Around us we are all at once Fall and Winter;

cold and falling, but always alive.

The taste of you decays on my lips:

a fragment of old flowers and the memory of your favorite mints.

If I close my withered lids, I can see your face, green from

your dashboard radio, and hear the old lyrics to our favorite

echoing tunes.

So long ago, when the word girl could describe me

with impatience and awkward lust.

When my desire was stronger than my need,

and I so often confused the two.

My heaven is a vapor, a grey memory for

someone else’s sunrise dreams. Those last

vibrations, still bouncing around,

becoming ever quieter still. The last chance

to hear you say “I love you,” exactly as you did.

My grip, like Death, to refuse release on what I once

knew, keeps me a phantom, an ivory skeleton, hanging

silently in my darkened closet. I can wait here, and I do.

It’s easier than you think.

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 ūüėČ

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

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’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. ūüôā

 

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.

 

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.

I don’t know exactly why Jon feels so close, right now, but I know he was with us when we celebrated our daughter’s third birthday yesterday.

I got home and all I could think about was him. I wish I could see his face when Weslee blew out her candles.

I’m looking forward to things in the coming months. I’m no longer afraid of the future. But he still has so much of my heart.

I know that people want me to stop talking about him so much, and maybe they think I should stop missing him so¬†much, now that I’ve done this for¬†over a year. But¬†Jon was so much¬†more than that to me. And I¬†have no idea when I’ll finally¬†stop dreaming of the parallel universe, where we still have the future we both wanted.