Four years ago my family and friends gathered in the sweltering July heat to watch Chris and I get hitched. A very different day from the overcast weather outside my window today. Last year this time my best friend and my sister spent the day with me watching movies and binge watching Witches of East End on Netflix. They didn’t want me to be alone on my first anniversary without Chris. I’m so thankful for that.
This morning on my second anniversary without Chris, I awoke tangled in blankets—my golden retriever ON my feet, my sheltie curled up against my side, and my cat meowing in my ear demanding her morning treats. So much about this year is so different from last. For one I was happy to wake up (well as happy as a non-morning person can be.) I recall the heavy weight that rested in my chest and how the thought of getting out of bed used to be a horrendous chore and I’m thankful those dark feelings are gone.
If I’d told myself this time a year ago that I’d be able to face the day and enjoy every second instead of fighting through until I could go back to sleep I would’ve never believed myself. And I probably would’ve felt a sense a betrayal. I’ve learned so many lessons since losing Chris but the greatest lessons I’ve learned have been about myself.
Being alone isn’t fun. Grieving isn’t fun. Taking the time to take nurse your wounds and care for yourself REALLY isn’t fun. But all those “not fun” things were necessary to get to a stage of acceptance. I used to think that accepting the loss of my husband meant forgetting him, that letting go meant pushing him to the far recesses of my mind like he never existed. But that isn’t acceptance—acceptance doesn’t mean you stop loving someone, that you don’t miss them anymore, that you don’t care about them anymore—no acceptance means finding peace—for them and yourself.
Once I recovered from the shock of losing Chris, I wanted to die. I prayed for death or peace. Since I’m still here typing away you can gather which request was granted—peace. It took time, tears, and you—if you’re reading this you are one of my angels. I thank God for each of you often. You kept me going when I wanted to quit and one of you, rather unexpectedly, pulled me from the grave and back into the world of the living. There are not enough thank you’s in the world for each of you.
Being alive again—recognizing the sparkly blue eyed girl in the mirror once more—that has been one of God’s greatest miracles in my life. There’s a deep indescribable gratitude I carry for each of you. But with embracing life comes guilt—guilt for all the things I still dream of like a family, guilt for all the things I have that Chris didn’t get the chance to enjoy and guilt for starting over and being excited about it. That ugly guilt monster creeps in and tries to darken my happy days. Some days it wins but most of the time I beat it down with a big shiny stick.
When I lost Chris our tree of dreams was cut down, but little did I know a new seed was planted. It took time to grow, tears to water it, and now the old life and dreams we shared has given way to a new healthy sapling with roots filled with thirteen years of memories together. My tough tiny tree keeps growing—getting stronger by the day waiting for the next adventure. It might be sunshiney, it might be stormy, it might be something in between, but whatever it is it will be life and life is a remarkable gift.
While today will always be a special day, one filled with memories of wedding cake and joy, it’s not a burden like it once was. Just like I’m starting over, I believe Chris is too. I’m choosing not to dwell in the loss but live in the gifts of life past, present, and future.
You know that quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Well I’m smiling today just like I did four years ago in my lacey wedding gown. Love doesn’t die it just changes form and today I’m filled with tremendous amounts of love.
If you’re stuck in a dark place don’t give up. I’ve come to learn nothing is impossible. Trust me I’ve lived it, survived it, and came back on top. Plus some people say I’m pretty smart so you should listen to my advice. 😉 #GriefConfessions #LivingAgain #DontGiveUp