There's a story I've been wanting to share here for a while now. It is one my grief counselor has encouraged me to tell, as he's felt it could be of help to others. So here goes. It's been roughly two and a half years since my fiancé died, very suddenly, in a helicopter crash. I've gone through unimaginable pain. I've wanted to climb out of my own skin. I've wanted to rip apart every synapse in my brain for the constant knowingness that he is never coming back. I've been angrier than I've ever known possible. I haven't given up though… I have kept on fighting as every new wave of this journey washes over me.
Things are easier now. I'm not as angry as I used to be. I'm learning to sit with my pain better. I'm learning not to apologize for where I need to be at any given time with my life and my world. I'm making new friendships, I'm building a new and meaningful career following what I feel like I am meant to do. Most days now, my life is more filled with current-day thoughts and activities than it is of the past. He is still always there. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thinking of him. Missing him. But as I have begun to return to life… our relationship is changing. He is still at the center, but Now, my new life is the center too. And that leaves the question which I have struggled with for probably the past six months or so: Just where do I put him now? In this new life?
It's a question I never really understood in the beginning… the idea that he would somehow NOT be the full center of my world anymore was just so hard to grasp. And also felt horrifying. And it has been something I have struggled with a lot this past year. As I made new friendships, new memories with those friends, new accomplishments in a new career, I struggled with where he fit into all of this. How to have both of these worlds living inside me at the same time.
And then one night, I was just arriving home from a night class. I live out in the country where you can see a sky full of stars… so I often stop as I am walking in the house just to gaze up for a while and take it all in. As I admired the dark, I noticed the neighboring house in a way I never had before. Set quite a few miles off from our ranch, this house sits up on the horizon, and at night the entire thing is lit up with a warm glow. Every single night.
Now I've seen this house and it's warm light in the night for years… it is always there, off in the distance. And I always look out at it when I come home in the evenings. But on this particular night, something or someone whispered a thought to me as I looked up at it. A thought of my fiancé. And an intuitive feeling that I think maybe came right from him. "Maybe it is like he is just over there now?"
It was a small idea that I took and ran with… and began creating a story around in my head. And the story is that, perhaps - in a way - he is just next door now, instead of right beside me. Perhaps on warm summer nights, he's sitting out on his back porch with a cold beer wondering fondly what I am up to... while I am soaking in the hot tub out back doing the same. There is a peacefulness to it. And almost a relief… for I feel like this narrative has helped me with a question I have struggled with greatly this past year… knowing just where to put him in my life as things begin to move forward. Not wanting to leave him behind, but not wanting my world to be entirely about him anymore because it simply cannot be if I am to create a happy life again.
We still love each other deeply. We still miss each other. But we know we each have a new and different life to live - him in the afterlife, and me here in mine.