The sun shone a little brighter for me this week. The grass looked a little greener; my steps were a little lighter; the sounds of my nephews playing was a little sweeter and my smile was a little easier.
Finally, after what has felt like a really long low, my grief appears to be lifting and easing again. I haven't felt this good for months. I had almost given up hope that I'd get back to this place of peace; the days had been so dark for so long that I had started to forget that the roller coaster DOES go up again, in between the lows.
Dan's anniversary shook me, along with finally receiving the results of his autopsy (which were apparently delayed by more than a year due to a back-log in work on the coroner's desk). I had lost my generally positive outlook and had trouble seeing the light in anything, which was probably evident in my writing.
As I sit and type, I'm overlooking my parent's garden on the gorgeous Queensland Sunshine Coast, an hour away from my home. I love visiting their and spending time with my mum and dad, but I haven't even had the energy to make the short trip because I couldn't stand the thought of being too far from my house - my sanctuary.
Yesterday I checked in with one of my counsellors (yes, I have a few - one who specialises in suicide survivors, one who is great for general grief-related issues, and one who works with a nutritionist to help with the impacts of grief on my health). I was so happy to be able to tell her that I was feeling a bit better and something had shifted.
She asked me what happy felt like, physically, for me. It took a while to put it into words, but I was finally able to explain that it felt like a soaring sensation, as if I was light and airborne. It felt like a bright, piercing light was beaming out from my chest. And it felt like relief. I was so incredibly relieved that I hadn't lost the ability to genuinely smile and rise out of that deep black hole that the 'unhappy' days feel like.
Just to clarify, even though I feel happy at the moment, I am still grieving. I still miss Dan with all of my being and thoughts of him - what he'd say about something, what we'd be doing if he was here - are never far from my mind. I still cry for him daily, but it's more of a five minute release that I can pick myself up from, rather than something that drags on for hours and days on end, morphing between body-wracking sobs and sad, empty silence.
I'm not naive enough to think the worst is behind me, I know this path by now and accept there will be more dark days ahead but for now the reprieve is such sweet relief.
This week also hasn't been without it's triggers and challenges. World Suicide Prevention Day fell on Wednesday, followed by an Australian mental health awareness day called 'R U OK day' on Thursday and then the anniversary of September 11 on Friday (which has always been a day of sadness and reflection for me, even before I was personally touched by grief).
As much as I still felt the impact of these days and she'd tears for the victims of suicide being remembered on Wednesday and the thousands of lives lost on September 11, I didn't slide back into the hole. A few weeks ago it would have been inevitable, but this week I felt stable and strong and able to just let the sadness wash over me.
Today I feel grateful for the life I have, acutely aware of my many blessings and excited about everything that is still to come for me. I also feel secure that Dan is close by and looking over me smiling. I know he'd be happy and proud to see me looking forward. As I inhale and feel the air filling the depths of my lungs, bringing a calm flow of energy through me, I can almost feel his arms around me and hear him whisper 'Go babe, you've got this'.