This weekend marks three years since that terrible day. Three years since I lost my best friend and the love of my life. Suddenly. Without warning. I have also now lived the same amount of time without him as I shared with him... and going forward will mean increasing that gap. I remember dreading this day constantly through the first year. I remember how inconceivable it was to be so far away from the day I last heard his voice. How I could not even imagine being alive this long sometimes. How I could not imagine the breath of life ever coming back into me. Yet here I am... Somehow, miraculously, still standing. Still breathing. And even living and laughing again.
Things are better these days. Most of my days are good days now. My life is full and rich again, although still very up-in-the-air and not without struggle. It is messy still, but full of things that bring meaning to the fact that he lived and died. I have worked hard to make sure of it. And after these three initial years of wandering through a terrifying trauma, I can attest that creating meaning from the pain has been the single greatest way I have known to find hope and begin to build a full life again. It has helped me to heal over and over again, endless times for a vast field of splintered pains left over from his death. It has given a purpose to my life to honor him in how I live and love forward.
How different things are now. And yet, how so much of who I am has remained and been strengthened in the fire. I have much more faith and trust in the unknown since his death. I have watched my own journey unfold in a miraculous way. Just as I begin to work through and heal one layer, so does the next one reveal itself for me to navigate. Layers of all the first's - holidays and anniversaries. Layers of meeting new friends who never knew him. Layers of being around men my own age again. Layers of moving and changing careers, challenging my beliefs of what I am capable of. Layers of loving again... Living again. Each layer seeming to come only after the previous one has been felt and moved through... It may be sooner than I FEEL ready to, but each time I dive into the emotions of the next layer - I discover I was more ready than I had known. And I always discover something of great worth. Maybe the key is to always look for the lessons and remember that pain is always here to teach me something.
I have experienced so many miraculous things these three years. I have been to places I never dreamed I would see. I have met people who have changed my life and opened my heart in the most beautiful ways. I have listened to my gut and followed its calling into the world of creativity. I have found a voice through my art and writing... and a voice through death that has helped me to know myself and life in a deeper way than I ever thought possible.
Three years later, I am entirely changed. I am new. Three years later, I can sit at the center of my own storms and be calm. The storms are still there, after all. The memories, the trauma, the loss, the never-ending missing of someone I love. But they don't tend to rage like they used to. Now they are lighter, more like cloudbursts. Now I know how to be still when they come... To let the rains of loss and life wash over me for a moment and then pass on through.
Three years later, I know that I have something of value to share with the world - and that each one of us does. That the most painful things in our life are meant to show us how to help others through the same pains. Three years later, I trust the unpredictability of life more. I trust that life will lead me on a journey that will not be easy, but will be worthwhile. In fact I expect it now. I expect life to be full of difficulty worth enduring, fear worth facing, and risks worth taking. For that is what creates a rich life... the hardships, and the sweet, warm fields that lie just on the other side of enduring them. Three years of beautiful agony have taught me this, and I would not give back the lessons if I could. They are his eternal gift to me, and mine to the world.
Here's to three years of loving you from afar, babe. Thank you for all you have taught me.
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