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It’s been a long time since I’ve written here.

I sort of abandoned this blog a few years ago, when I really started to feel the effects that my years of grief had cost me.

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write in this blog again. It started to become too difficult to see the pain of my early years. It was too easy to relive them again; remembering how broken I was, and how broken I still felt. Depression and Anxiety beat me down and I was unable to form a healthy thought, let alone a string a bunch of words together to make them sound like I knew what I was talking about. I was messed up. I had hit my bottom. I lost my mother and my husband within four years of each other, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

So.

I went to therapy. I made it a point to conquer my demons. I did not want to live under their control anymore. I struggled especially with Anxiety and the idea of leaving my children behind, knowing that the World they lived in was growing more cruel everyday. I felt as though I was cursed or somehow deserving of a horrible future, because all my dreams had turned into ashes before my face.

I was giving up on myself. I was desperate.

I used to dwell on the worst possible scenario all the time. I don’t really blame myself. I lost huge parts of myself when my husband and mother died. I didn’t believe I had a lot of things to look forward to, besides death. And suddenly I realized how real it could be. I didn’t want to die. Not when I had two little girls to protect and care for. But I couldn’t count on the idea that I had dealt with enough. Does anyone? I don’t believe in the concept of “Fair” as others do. I didn’t think I’d be safe from the very worst things that could happen and it was thoughts like those that destroyed me.

And I missed my Jonathan. I missed him like missing fresh air. I had nothing real to look forward to, and to be honest, I was just trying to survive long enough to see my children to adulthood. They were truly my only motivation for living, and continuing any part of this life, good or bad.

And through all my therapy, and experiments with chemical assistance, (SSRI), I only realized that there was no way out of my grief. I couldn’t wait it out and hope it would go away. I had to process it. I had to feel every pain, and experience every heartache. I had to accept they were all important. I had to validate my feelings because they were important. Jon was important. The fact that I was mourning and grieving his loss was important. I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t, anymore.

And still, I felt that I had absolutely nothing to look forward to, for myself. No love, no future, no plans. I just had to keep going. I just had to get up every day and mother my children, as broken as I felt, and then force myself to sleep at night, just so I could do it all again the next day.

I had conceded that it would always be this way. I believed that I would always be alone, missing someone who I believed I would see again…but only at the cost of losing everything else.

It wasn’t a way I wanted to live my life. I was tired of it. The fight was becoming overwhelming. My future was depressing. I had nothing to hang on to; and no one really cared anymore, anyway. Most of my friends were sick to death of my grief. I just pretended I was fine, because I couldn’t face the look of annoyance on their faces when I said anything about it. I was sick of it, too.

I was so tired of feeling heavy-hearted. I was so sick of being jealous of all the happy families I saw at church, or at my daughters’ schools. (There’s really nothing more discouraging than having other parents realize you’re a single mom at Open House) Somehow, my status made me feel guilty – like I had failed at happiness.

I was so isolated. I didn’t fit in anywhere, and I was tired to trying pretend I had a place somewhere.

In retrospect, grief felt very much like a long, dark, dirty tunnel. It’s low and underground, making it hard to stand in. Like the ceiling could push down on your shoulders, just for looking at it. I struggled. I drank. I popped pills when I could. I prayed. I stumbled backwards. I lost my rationale. I lost my temper. I was broken. I truly never thought I would ever find my way out of it. I thought I would always be there, stuck in a tunnel of despair, just trying to make the most of it.

Sometimes, that tunnel would bring a person along the way. They would be like water. A relief in the darkness, where my eyes would struggle to adjust. Sometimes, they would grace me with a hug. And I would remark to myself how wonderful it felt, just to be held for 3 or 4 seconds by someone who didn’t mind my broken-ness. Because when Jon died, all the affection he gave me on a daily basis simply stopped cold. It was gone, and people were afraid to touch me. I was afraid for them to touch me.

And I would forget just how wonderful a hug could be, until someone would squeeze me and remind me. It would keep me going. I would motivate me to not give up.

And I continued forward. In the dark, going forward to what I couldn’t see. I would keep going, for my children, my family, my friends. For myself. I never wanted to give up, because I can’t help but believe in the proverbial light at the end. It’s probably the best part of my nature. I am at my baseline, optimistic. Even in the tiniest way. There is a green little sprout in the bottom of my soul that believes it will all work out in the end. And if it hasn’t…it’s not the end.

And I prayed. I prayed and prayed for release. As a woman of Faith, I knew that prayer was my only lifeline, sometimes.  It sounds very hypocritical for me to admit this, because I complained a lot. I struggled with my worth as a person and as a Christian. I questioned God, but I never expected an answer. He was obviously very angry with me. I must have done something pretty terrible to have to learn such a harsh lesson. And I accepted that because somehow it sounded more rational than possibly admitting that God had a totally different plan for me than I had for myself, and that I had never once allowed Him to manifest it, as opposed to what I went after.

And then one day….I found it. That light at the end of my tunnel. I can’t even pin point the exact day. I just know that I kept praying and kept seeking God, searching for a way out of where I was. Over the past Summer, something broke. Something let go of me, in a way that I hadn’t felt in over seven years. I started having panic attacks again, because things became very stark. I could see very clearly in front of me all the times that I let myself turn on autopilot and move like a robot through weeks and even months of time. I suddenly couldn’t do that anymore. It scared me, at first. I was hyper-aware of it. Who was I? What had I been doing all this time?? Why was I only just realizing this now???

But then it didn’t matter. As the initial anxiety began to pass, I realized that I wasn’t broken anymore. I was finally set free.

I emerged. It was like coming out of the ground in the middle of a cold, bright day. It both disoriented me and felt wonderful. I breathed in the clean, fresh air and I felt alive for the first time in seven years.

My heart is no longer heavy. My soul is no longer burdened. My smile is finally genuine. My future no longer scares me into hiding in my past.

I am no longer grieving. I am no longer sad. I no longer live wishing I could go back into time, if only for one day.

And it’s really weird. I miss my husband. He was my best friend. He was my favorite person. There isn’t a part of me that wouldn’t absolutely rejoice if he suddenly just walked in my front door like he never left at all.

But I am no longer broken on the inside. And I know I will see him again.

I am writing this because I want people know that I KNOW what grief is like. I know how it feels like you’ll never come out of it. I know how the idea of not grieving feels like the ultimate betrayal. I know how the pain is so bad sometimes, you wish you could get out from under it, and yet, letting go feels like you’ll lose their memory completely. I know.

But I also know, now, that it doesn’t happen like that. That you can miss someone and still be happy. I know that this Life has wonderful things to show you, as it does me. And I know that it’s possible to look forward to the rest of your life without feeling guilty because your loved one won’t be a part of it.

I am no longer grieving. And it doesn’t hurt to admit that. I will ALWAYS miss my Jonathan. Who wouldn’t? He was a WONDERFUL person! He was kind and compassionate. He was motivated by helping his friends. He was non-judgmental and an incredible listener. And he was the ONLY man who could argue with me, prove me wrong and I would thank him for it. (That’s a feat in and of itself!!)

I am such a blessed girl to be the one he loved for the rest of his life. He thought I was worthy of his children and his name. Having such love from someone is a beautiful way to live. It was a wonderful life we had, together. I don’t think he regrets a single moment of it. I know that I don’t.

It’s been almost 7.5 years since he died. And I’ve lived a lifetime of loss in those years. I’ve cried countless tears and spent more nights than I can count wishing he could come back, just so I could sleep next to him again.

But these days…I sleep well. I am consumed with my kids and their little universes. They’re growing up so fast, and I am so grateful to be ever-present as I watch them. They bring more joy to my heart than I ever thought possible.

All I can think is that…I made it. Out the other side. And I am happy. I am truly happy. I had a great love, and I am so blessed just to have had it. I thank God every day for it.

I cannot promise that my experience will be the same as everyone else’s or that everyone else will experience what I have in this way. But I encourage everyone to process their grief, no matter how long it takes. I know it hurts. I know that the hurt is the undertone for every thought and every breath. I know what it feels like to live as a ghost, with someone’s memory around your neck like chains.

Be kind to yourselves. Remember that you aren’t really going backwards. Nothing ever does and you will get to your destination. You will be OK. You will make it, too. Trust the process. The end result can be better than you imagine.

xoxox

Maria – 9/5/2015

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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.

When I can’t sleep. When the wind is too loud outside my windows and I find myself indulging in someone else’s radio music…I think of you.

I think of those nights when I wasn’t lonely because of you. I think of those times in the wee small hours, when we found breakfast and love across a worn formica table. 

When those moments between night and morning come fleeting across my memory, I only think of how grateful I am that I should have been depressed then, and you wouldn’t let me. Of how I should have fallen victim to all my bad mistakes. You helped me make the best ones.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you again. Because I am only aware of how lonely I am after knowing how wonderful it was to be by your side. 

I’m at a point in my grief where I don’t want to associate too much with my status. I know that sounds strange for a widow to admit, (and maybe it doesn’t), but I’m tired of having to tell people about it. I hate how awkward it makes things. I hate how I have to gloss over things as if it’s no big deal, and go on with conversation as quickly as possible to avoid the weight of heavy pity that usually hangs around like a stench in the air.

The most obvious solution is to just not bring it up. One would think that it’s not too difficult in everyday life to avoid mentioning something so deep and heavy. I wish I could say that this is correct and that I almost never have to update even the most menial relationships to such serious business. However, this is not the case. Oddly enough, I have had to explain things to people more than I would ever want, (or expect) to. It happens a lot with other parents, in places as casual as the park, or more regularly, at my daughter’s school. Or it happens when I’m getting my oil changed on my truck. This is probably due to the fact that A. I’m a woman and stereotypes still exist regarding our knowledge of auto-mechanics in popular culture; and B. because there is a seriously high turnover rate at any of the hundreds of local service stations in my city. But it’s not just at these places or because I’m a female.

It’s the strangest thing. The more I try to avoid talking about it, the more I find myself at the dreaded crossroads of either Having To Explain That My Husband Passed Away or Just Lie and Act Like He’s Still Around.

I cannot tell you how increasingly irritating it’s becoming. It’s not something that I am faced with everyday, but at least a few times a week. As connected as I am in this town, I meet new people everyday. People who naturally pry and ask questions even in casual chat. I never knew how much information people are used to exchanging in everyday conversation. Parents talk about child rearing as easily as they talk about professional sports. Our culture has become so competitive and intrusive, that other mothers I encounter will simply ask what my situation is, or just blurt out a scenario regarding the obvious lack of a father figure at school functions, and wait for me to explain. I find myself becoming increasingly less interested in connecting with other parents, or anyone on more than a superficial level, just to avoid the inevitable awkwardness that will eventually swallow up any further conversation between us.

Sometimes, I just go along with not explaining to people that my husband is dead. I just nod my head and smile, because yes, my daughter is obviously going to be tall, and she must take after her father. And do we have anymore children? Are they all tall? Did my husband play basketball? Oh really? What does he do now?

It bothers me that I perpetuate something dishonest because it saves me from handing someone the anvil of truth that my life has become. But sometimes, I just don’t feel like reminding myself how much I’ve lost. And every time I find myself in this sort of scenario, I am truly reminded of where I wish I was, compared to where I am.

It makes it terribly difficult to “let things go” when I have to constantly identify with that part of my life. I come into society with an asterisk; a subtext of definition that sets me apart from most of society at my age. (It doesn’t help that people assume I’m a lot younger than I am, either.) And people simply don’t know what to do with it. What do you say to the woman who could easily be like anyone around her, save for one major detail. The reactions I get from people make me feel both guilty and frustrated. I have become the Queen of Changing The Subject just to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

I don’t have a solution for this. I’m not going to pick up the defense and start swinging anytime anyone gets too nosy. I’m not going to blame someone for just talking without realizing that they’re treading on dangerous territory. But it does make my life incredibly difficult. It’s something I would have never have realized had I not been dealing with it for the past three years or so.

For now, I’m just going to keep listening, nodding and ducking the arrows while dodging the bullets. I’m going to continue the rather intimate relationship I’ve developed with my iPod, (ha), and hopefully, people will disinterest themselves in my silence, while appreciating it for its golden hue.

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  clichés 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 😉

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.