Today is a special day. A day I didn’t expect to ever come and certainly not this soon. This time last year, I was a mess—a mess of mixed emotions, numbing tears, and a fuzzy head filled with grief.
I’ve wept more tears in the last year than I hope to ever cry again in my life. Sobbing is awful but it was necessary—for me at least. It was the only physical way to empty out the pain in my heart so it could start to heal.
So I cried. I prayed. I screamed. I cried some more. I threw some things. I went to counseling. I cried. I prayed again. This was my life on repeat for the past year. And in between all of that stuff I was trying to work and teach and write and be a functioning person—not necessarily for myself but for those who worried about me. If it was up to me I would’ve spent it all in bed. It was incredibly difficult, but somehow I did it. I survived.
And then somewhere between the tears, the prayers, the screaming, the counseling, and the passage of time—something began to change. I started to heal. The Chris shaped hole in my heart began to scab over and eventually scar. It wasn’t an easy process—that scar bled and re-scabbed over and over again—with every first without him. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. First New Years. First Valentine’s Day. First Anniversary. First Birthdays.
And all the other sneaky firsts you can’t plan for. Like the first time I drove to our friends house alone. Or the first time I was away from home and had a funny story to share with him. Or the first time I made his special recipe without him. Or the first time I had to check the box “single” instead of “married.” You can’t prepare for those kinds of first. They hit you hard and fast.
Now I’ve hit the newest phase, being ready to put some of his things away. It started with his hat—that now resides in the truck he always wanted—the truck I bought this summer and drive around town with pride. (I never thought I’d love driving a truck so much but I do. I understand why he wanted it so bad.) Then after weeks of debating I put away his helmet. Something I’d kept close and within my daily sight to remind me he wasn’t coming home again—because I needed that physical reminder. I put it back in its proper place in the garage last weekend.
These might seem like small things and maybe they are but to me they are incredibly significant. After the one year mark hit, so many things began to change. One by one burdens started to lift and while thinking about how long he’s been gone pains me it also reminds me that I’m still here. I’m still breathing. I still have to live—for him and for myself.
Spending my days and nights lost in our life together, drowning in regret, feeling guilty for things I did or didn’t do, and so many other dark things—the time for that has passed.
Does that mean I won’t cry for him again? Absolutely not.
Does it mean I don’t miss him every moment of the day? Certainly not.
Does it mean I don’t love him anymore? Most definitely not.
Does it mean I’ll ever stop grieving his loss? Not until we’re together again.
BUT It’s time to live again. To breathe freely. To take risks. To laugh. To dream. To hope. And maybe one day even love again.
Today, I’m packing up the past and putting it in my suitcase. I won’t forget it but I know it will be there from time to time for referencing and safekeeping.
It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I’m marking it with this tattoo.
It will reside on my foot to always remind me of where I’ve been and who I’ve loved. I’m letting him go today—something I once thought meant leaving him behind but that’s not what letting go is. Letting go is being at peace with things—not forgetting what happened or the person he was but being grateful that he was here and a part of my life.
Letting go frees us both. He’s helped me find my peace and I know he has his. I look forward to the little reminders that he’s checking in on me and hopefully keeping me on the right path. Believe me—I can use all the help I can get with that! 😉
I love you, Chris—always and forever. Thank you for reminding me to love myself just the same.
*Just a note—I share my journey because I feel compelled to. I’m just an ordinary girl dealing with the hand I was dealt. We each have our own cross to bear. Don’t expect your journey to be the same and don’t measure your journey with the results of mine. We’re all different. One thing I’ve learned is you have to be kind to yourself and do WHAT is right for you WHEN it is right for you. Don’t let anyone dictate your choices especially when grieving. It’s your loss, your pain. It is true that no one knows exactly how you feel—losing someone is a unique experience because every individual is a unique person. Accept that while one day you say “never again” the next day you say “maybe someday” and that’s okay. You’re allowed to change your mind and your feelings on things. I share because I want you to know while you feel alone—you’re not. And if my pain can give someone hope—then it was worth something, it honors the man I loved in life and in death.