We’re a week into the new year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and reflect. Holiday travel definitely takes a lot out of you and we’re only just beginning to get settled back in at home. The thing that I am reflecting on right now as I write to you is mostly, my gratitude, and the big event I wrote about last week - Mike proposing to me.
A lot of people don’t know that Drew never officially proposed to me. He was planning to as soon as he returned from the work trip he was on - only he never returned. But he had sort-of asked in a roundabout way before that… because I was the queen of avoiding large milestones like these. Basically, he wanted reassurance that if he did ask me soon, I would be happy about it and not feel pushed or pressured. In the conversation, I started to overthink and freak out about the idea of it, as I do with most milestones, and then I stopped myself and I told him “Whenever you ask me, I will say yes”. So that’s as far as we actually got. A few weeks later, he was gone, without warning.
I’m sure most understand how painful it is to have not gotten to the proposal, or the wedding, or the first year, or the fifth year, or your first house, or children, or grandchildren… to not have gotten to some milestone. Or a lot of milestones.
This has been my story for the past 6 ½ years. A story I unknowingly settled into. Even though I referred to Drew as my fiance after his death, truly, no one had ever proposed to me. No one had ever said those words to me. And these years since his death, I have been a woman who has never been asked. I think a very old part of my damaged self worth liked to feed off of that sometimes. Like I didn’t deserve it. It’s not rational, and it doesn’t make sense, and I know it isn’t true, but it’s still there… somewhere in the dark corners of my heart, this whispering thought that I don’t deserve to be asked that question.
Only now, that story has been changed by someone new...
Now, I have been proposed to. Now someone has asked me that question and I have said yes. In the weeks since Mike proposed to me, I have felt a shift inside me. That voice that used to try and tell me I didn’t deserve to be asked, seems gone. It has been proven wrong, and has lost all of its power. I've been marveling at the changes this seems to be having inside me... changes I can't exactly even put into words right now.
Being widowed though, I know that each step of this process will be a challenge. From here forward, I will be living through many more milestones that I never had with Drew. I will wonder what each milestone would have been like with him. And I will never know. I’ll also be confronting the knowing… that Mike could die at any moment too. It could be tomorrow, and we could in fact never get to the wedding, just the way Drew and I never got to the proposal.
In essence, I think my whole life going forward is always going to feel a little bit like “we’re not out of the woods yet”. I am always going to know that it could all end tomorrow. I think about it at least once a day, and sometimes more. I think about it, but I don't let it control me.
Lately though, with those thoughts being heightened more, I feel my gratitude more fully also. I feel this deeper appreciation for this person in my life, and a deeper relationship to him. I still don’t know if we will make it to the wedding. None of us ever know how life will unfold. And I guess I could let that throw me into a tailspin of fear… but instead, and surprisingly, I just seem to be... happy. Genuinely so happy to be living this moment and this experience. So happy to be right here, getting to live this part of it, with someone new that I love just as much. So happy that I even get to experience being engaged at all. A thing I never got to have before, I get to have now. And I get to have it with someone who honors the man that I had planned to marry originally… and includes him as part of our life just as I include his wife Megan in our life.
It doesn’t feel like leaving anything or anyone behind. If feels like bringing them with us on a new adventure, because they’re the reason that we’re even together in the first place.