On May 25, 2016, he asked me to marry him.
Then, he died before our wedding day.
I have sat here re-reading those two sentences again and again and again. I just can't seem to process the words the letters are forming. My mind can not make sense of what I am reading. My heart can not accept the words on the page. I do not know if this will ever feel anything but surreal.
Never in a million years did I think this would be the story of my life. It is fair to say Mike and I were just getting to the good part in our love story. We were leading up to the chapter where we were going to live happily ever after. There was no way for us to predict that our story was going to come to a tragic end. Looking back, there wasn't any foreshadowing. Everything was coming up roses for us. Our life together was magical. And, even as I was living it, I remember stopping myself - in the middle an ordinary moment - because I could not believe how beautifully everything was falling into place. Maybe it really was too good to be true.
Life was good.
Our life together was better than anything we dreamed of.
And, that's an understatement.
Then, one night Mike went to sleep and the next morning he never woke up.
And, just like that,
Our story was over.
There were no goodbyes.
And, there will not be happily ever after for us.
At least not here...
It's been 2 years and 3 days since he proposed to me on a warm night in Mexico. I can feel everything about that moment when Mike asked me to be his wife. It feels like just last night; and, it also feels like a lifetime ago too.
A significant amount of time has passed since his proposal; and, I am still not sure what to do with all our hopes and dreams that never came to be. I struggle to live in the moment because I am continuously daydreaming about a fictional life that we never got to live. I constantly wish we were living together under one roof as husband and wife. It's fair to say that I spend a lot of time wishing for things that are no longer possible. And, all this wishful thinking detracts me from living the life before me now.
We were so excited about spending the rest of our lives together- as a family - and I still want to live this life we were planning. I know how irrational this is, and sometimes I feel like I'm crazy for still fantasizing about this pretend life. Although my mind understands that he is gone from this dimension, my heart yearns for him to come back so that we can live happily ever after like he promised me we would.
In truth, I still very much want to be his wife. And, I think a part of me always will. And, this complicates things for me because it is very difficult to fully participate in life when you want to be a dead man's wife. Because of my illogical desires I am forced to exist in limbo. I feel like I live here, and also in a parallel Universe. And, it is exhausting living like this.
The reality is, Mike did spend the rest of his life with me.
So, why isn't this enough.
Why can't I just be happy with this and be content to live a future different than the one I imagined...
Life after the death of the person you love demands that you ask yourself BIG questions. Ironically, the questions are often about life and living. I have asked myself over and over again, Who am I now that Mike has died? Maybe part of the answer lies in Who I was before I met him. Who I was before he died. I think a lot about Who I was when I was Mike's fiancee. And, I ask myself again and again, Who I want to be now that I am his Widow.
Admittedly, these are questions to which I don't have the answers; but, I'm working on it. These questions challenge me and scare me because of their enormity and because I feel the potential here. I still have choices in my changed life. I have the opportunity to re-create myself, and you do too. I know how overwhelming this is; but I believe that if we allow ourselves to be off kilter we will find ourselves in the process.
In the last year, I have spent a fair bit of time on my knees scrounging for direction and answers. I have spent many a night on the floor crying, begging Mike to come back. I've dance under the stars with my dead fiance; desperately wanting his touch, longing for the days when his arms were wrapped around my life. Many times, I have wandered through the day completely absent with thoughts of him endlessly ruminating in my mind. Grief is gutting. I know how hard it is for you to live with the relentless heaviness and ache in your chest. If I am awake I'm likely on the verge of tears at any given moment, I get it. I have noticed, with time, the ache in my heart is softening a little and my tears don't last as long anymore. But, still, the emptiness is there. And, maybe in some weird way, that's okay. Maybe we are meant to use this emptiness and rootlessness as our foundation. Maybe we need to feel the emptiness and absorb all this "missingness" into every cell of our body. If we feel it and lean into our grief we will learn something about ourselves. I think there in the empty silence - is where the answers are for all of us. I've decided that if I am going to survive Mike's sudden death I have to build a purposeful life around the emptiness inside me.
So, I haven't told you Who I am. Well, for starters...
It's actually Monday as I write this... I'm heading out this week for Camp Widow, where I will likely meet many of you! So I decided to get this one in early.