It takes a long time.... to get from there .... to here.
It has taken me almost 4 years to get here.
Four years that have seemed like one day .... and forty years .... all at the same time.
Six years before Jim died he had an accident on his family's farm, at Thanksgiving. As an aside, it seems that the big events in his life, and therefore, in mine .... happened either on, or very close to, a holiday. He went out proving that .... one week before Christmas.
Back to that Thanksgiving (I never thought I'd want to go back there .... I guess that shows what a little perspective will do, doesn't it?).
He was target shooting with a WWII replica of the kind of large gun his father used, as a sniper in the Marines. He got it as a gift for his father.
He asked me to accompany him that day, and I did, though I didn't want to. Not at all.
It was a very, very loud gun.
But I went, which was a very good thing, because the gun exploded into his face.
Into his right eye, to be exact.
He lost that eye, but he was spared any further damage, though it came very close to going through his eye and into his brain.
So I got 6 more years.
The week after that accident, as we were trying to figure out how to live differently, I remember thinking, "If I can just make it to one year from now, I know we'll be ok."
And we were.
It turned out to be a pretty depressing year, on many fronts.
But we made it.
I was right.
After he died, I remembered that thought.
And I knew, without a doubt, that one year from that date .... would be no different.
He was dead.
And I would not be ok.
And I was right.
But I am now almost 4 years from that date.
And I am ok.
Most days I am better than ok.
Occasionally, I am not.
It takes a long time to get from there to here.
Most of you are there.
And I want you to know that, just because we are "here" .... it doesn't mean that we don't remember, and sometimes re-live, being "there".
We all hated waking up each day.
Most of us longed to go to bed and couldn't wait for night to come, only to realize that sometimes the night was the worst part of the day.
We all hated being told we "looked good".
As opposed to .... ?
We all hated being told that we were strong.
Because we certainly did not feel strong.
But as much as we hated it, we were.
It's only in looking back, that I know that I was.
That I am.
And trust me, no matter how much you hate it .... how much you disbelieve it .... you are stronger than you know. I know you hate hearing it. I remember. And I've seen it in your eyes when I've tried to reassure you.
You can't get from there to here .... and not come out stronger.
A friend who holds a very dear place in my heart is dying.
She is young.
She is the person who arranged for Jim and me to "get together".
She is one of the reasons our oldest son has his name.
She was my "sister" in college, one of my roommates.
And in 2 to 4 months, she will be dead.
And my heart is breaking again, even though I thought it could not.
But, in trying to reassure her about her husband .... and what she thinks her death will do to him, I realized how strong I really had been. And am now.
I told her that he would be ok.
Not for a long time, but one day he will be ok.
I told her that he is stronger than he knows.
Stronger than she knows.
Because I remember "there".
I remember every inch of "there".
And I have come a very long way to get "here".
My journey is not over.
Nor is yours.
No matter how very much you wish it was.
I will never forget.
It took a long time to get from there to here.
But it can be done.
One day, one second at a time.
One foot in front of the other .... one step at a time. One step forward, three step backs.
Two step forward, one step back.
You are stronger than you think you are.
I never, ever .... thought I would be here.
It took a long time.
But, though I never thought I'd think this .... I am glad that I have made it this far.
Because now I can encourage you.
As can the rest of us.
You WILL get here.
You ARE stronger than you know .... stronger than you think.