At work the other day I was chatting with one of the young ladies who works at the coffee shop across the way. I had mentioned my late husband in conversation and this girl, young enough to be my daughter, immediately expressed her sorrow for me and went on to tell me about her beloved stepfather who died five years ago. She said he had been her mother’s true love, and they all missed him so deeply. She said no one gets over the loss; our grief goes on, we just learn to live with it. She showed me the ring she wore that bore his name and expressed how much it meant to her.
I realized grief follows so many people you might never know about. And I found her story and presence of spirit truly inspiring. She had clearly learned about grief, knew what to say, knew how it worked. She asked how long it had been for me: two years and eight months. Not long then, she said. No, I said, but I added that I was now at a place where I was truly grateful that I got to have him when I did. That I know now how incredibly lucky I am I got to be married to him and have him in my life. She agreed solemnly that she and her mom both felt that too. She had adopted a dog not too long ago and decided to name it Whiskey after her stepfather’s well-known delight at the drink. Her eyes sparkled with fond memories as she talked about him, what he was like, how special he had been.
Our special people. We carry them with us, don’t we. I’m not talking about the cavalier “they’ll always be with you” thing people say when they don’t understand the pain of their missing physical presence. I mean we never forget what a special place they held - and still hold - in our lives. In our hearts.
Then, after I’d already written the above, I read Tricia’s post this week - her last one here at Widow’s Voice after writing with us for a year. She wrote about what we carry with us - we carry each other, we carry our memories…we carry their spirt, love, even hope, which may take awhile to foster…and, after awhile as well, we also find gratitude. Gratitude that we had them in our lives for however long we did; gratitude for having learned what we did from knowing them, and loving them. Gratitude did not come right away, and like Tricia, I was not able to see that for quite some time. But today, I think quite often about how lucky I am that I got to know Mike and be his wife.
I feel different than I did a year ago. My life has become full of new friends and new opportunities. And I am glad for the inspiration and support I continue to find around me. But sometimes I feel sad that my life has changed so much from what it was when Mike was here. Time continues to move forward and I can’t stop it. I often sit and meditate on what it was like when he was here. I try to imagine him next to me; I try to imagine the sound of him, the feel of him…what it felt like to know he was near. What it felt like to have my husband in my life. It is slipping farther and farther into the past. I can’t stop it. But sometimes I try anyway.