The moment I walked out of my front door in Michigan for the last time, tears fell without warning and without permission. It was as if my body knew what my mind wouldn't allow me to think about or dwell on - that I was leaving behind a huge history and pieces of my heart that would never be found in any other place (cue Monica from Friends screaming as my inner dialogue, "It's the end of an ERA!")
As I drove away towards our new home in West Virginia, I did feel the sadness of leaving behind so much, but the closer we got to our destination, the more I started to feel other emotions. Excitement. Anticipation. Wonder. Eagerness.
The biggest driving factor for me in moving, besides supporting my husband wherever he ended up, was the chance to start somewhere fresh. Somewhere without baggage, a place to create new relationships without fear of judgement or pity. A place where I could feel useful again, instead of forgotten and broken. It was a place where I could have a clean slate and reinvent myself. I could be anyone I wanted to be.
I immediately thought of the way Jeremy saw me. The person he thought I was, and the person I've always wanted to be. Even in death, he found ways through others to show me how he felt about me and the way he talked about me to others. I thought I might finally have the environment that would cultivate the woman he always saw in me. No one would be there to remind me of my mistakes, to hold me to the person I've been before or their perception of who I am now.
While in theory I couldn't wait to 'fix' all my flaws and recreate a better version of myself, I've quickly realized that it's not as easy as it sounds.
First of all, I am already different than the person Jeremy saw in me. I've tried to hold on to those pieces, but I've added so many layers onto my skin, my heart, and my life experience. I am capable of so much more than I ever realized and somehow it took Jeremy's death to discover it - he somehow showed it to me through his life.
Second of all, I want to take the past with me. Of course, I'd love to leave the baggage and the flaws but without them, I wouldn't be who I am now, and all those things have Jeremy's love and hand carved deep inside. I wouldn't dare leave without those.
While I started to feel unsettled in my new surroundings already realizing that creating a new me wasn't what I thought it would be, I figured out it was because I was doing it wrong. I don't need to be someone different or someone new. I just needed to let me see myself through the eyes of the man who loved me. Luckily, I get to see her in the man who loves me now, but somehow it took a separation from the place I thought I was most comfortable to see what I am really made of.
Seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you is the best way to look. It changes everything. It can carry you through any storm, any heartache, any transition. It can transform the way you think about yourself and your own capabilities. It is your clean slate.
As Michele so perfectly put it, long live love.