5 years, 60 months, 1825 days, 43,800 hours, 2,628,000 minutes, 157,680,000 seconds since you’ve been gone. I thought it’d be different by now. Not quite so raw. But. It stings. Burns. Aches. The pain. Sadness. Tears. Far too pronounced. Wetting the corners of my eyes. My face. Emptying my heart of the pain. I’ll be okay. But. For the moment. I remember. You are gone. And the pain is real.
Somedays I can barely remember my telephone number. I search frantically for a word, a name. Blank. Nothing. But the vivid memories of August 30th, 2014? They are etched in my brain. I blink my eyes. I’m back on the beach. Black Rock. Maui. Sun shining. Ocean blue. Perfect Hawaiiian day. Who would have guessed? In a moment. A heartbeat. My whole world would change. Our whole world would change. But it did. And life would never be the same again.
Grief is a journey to which there is no end. August 30th, 2014, I cautiously entered the uncharted emotions swirling in my brain. A torrent of emotions rushing inside. Shock. The raw shocking truth that you had taken your last breath. I would never hold your hand. Feel the touch of arms around me. Your lips on mine. We would never share another moment. Celebrations. Grandbabies. Travel. All of our dreams. Gone. Throughout the days and years these feelings rolled, tumbled, intensified, lessened, only to burst to the surface when I least expected. Triggers. Songs. Butterflies. Rainbows. I’d see you. And miss you more. And. Remember. Most of the time, I was alone in these thoughts. After time, no one wanted to hear it. It’d been long enough. Or that’s what you hear. Think. But grief. Real Grief. It. Never. Ends. It’s always tucked away, waiting to emerge. Pop its head out and remind you. Loneliness. Longing. And, most of all. Lost love. Yes, you. My lost love.
Five years. So many changes. In my life. Our family. The world. I’ve grown. Changed. I believe for better. But I’d give it all back for one day with you. I know far too many who have suffered the same grief. I feel their pain. Heartache. Emptiness. I share my story. Hoping to help others brave their journey, eyes and heart open. Remove the expectations and embrace the reality. That’s what I’ve finally learned to do. If I can share and soften the pain for one person, I find purpose. Meaning. Something. For each of the 1825 days you’ve been gone, I’ve embraced these realities:
- Reality: Grief is personal. There may be a beginning, but there is no end.
- Reality: Just when all seems right with the world, it comes crashing down. No warning. And there I am again. Holy crap! Fighting for survival. I can do it. And I’ll do it again. And again. And maybe hundreds of agains. But each time I’ll come out stronger than before. Don’t fight it. I’m stronger than I believe I am.
- Reality: There is no right, wrong, better or worse way to grieve. Whatever works for me is my best way! Do it. No one can tell ME how to grieve but ME!
- Reality: Feel. Listen. Process. Don’t push my feelings aside. Pushing them away doesn’t mean they are gone. They are merely hiding deep within. Eventually they’ll emerge with the surge of a tsunami wave. I’ll be sucked in. Knocked down. And slowly claw my way to the surface again.Sometimes it takes moments. Other times days. Weeks. But. I have to learn to swim to the surface.
- Reality: Remember. The good times. So many. Hang onto those in my heart. The love. The laughter. The tears. 40 years. We were lucky. Blessed. And those are the memories I cherish.
- Reality: 5 years. 10 years. 20. A part of my heart will always ache for you. But I must find a place for joy. That does not mean I don’t miss you. Or love you less. It means love and loss can walk beside one another. Together they can find a joyful place in my heart.
- Reality: I will continue to tell your story. Our story. I will say your name. I will not bury that part of you. Talking about you, us, makes me smile. Warms my heart. Reminds me of love. Happiness. Joy. I will not push that aside. Ever.
- Reality: I will continue to believe that you are with me. The white butterfly. It’s not random. It knows when I need it most. And it’s there. The first time Ashley went through IVF. Every day. The white butterfly fluttered into my garden. Now. As we await the arrival of baby girl, the white butterfly is here again. I know it’s you. In Chinese symbology, a white butterfly symbolizes the soul of a departed loved one. It means angels are watching over you and that you are being protected. Thank you for being my angel. For loving, protecting always.
5 years. It seems like a minute. And forever. I’ll blink my eyes. And soon it will be another 5 years. Life will keep changing. I will keep changing. But some things will never change. My heart. My love. And missing you.