The day I said goodbye

Six Years. You’ve been gone for six years, and when tomorrow arrives, you will have been gone for longer than we we’re married…..just typing that makes my heart break open a little more and the tears come so that typing is almost impossible.

Was it really only six years? Because to me it felt like a lifetime with you. A lifetime of I love you’s. A lifetime of mindless walks while holding hands. A lifetime of lazy times watching tv with my head in your lap, as Lilly Bell jealousy wished it was her.

A lifetime of smiling and laughing with you. A lifetime of monthly anniversary flowers. A lifetime of being loved so uniquely that my heart couldn’t contain all that love, and it just spilled into my eyes and my mouth as they twinkled and smiled with ease and abandon.

How did we go from this

to this

in only six years.

It’s not fair! In fact, if I may be totally honest – it MOTHER-FUCKING-SUCKS!!!!

You were supposed to be my happily ever after. My second chance at the life that was stripped away when Greg was yanked from us!!! You were not supposed to get any disease, let alone one that has no EFFING cure and with a life span of only two to five years!!!!!

IT.WAS.NOT.SUPPOSED.TO.BE.THIS.WAY!!

But it was….and it is.

I lost your physical presence at 11:40pm on Tuesday December 6, 2016. After everyone had said their goodbyes to you and left or gone to bed, I laid down next to you and held you. I smelled your hair and laid my head on your lifeless chest, where I no longer could hear the beating of your heart. I wanted to fall asleep and wake up to a different reality. But I knew this wasn’t a horrible nightmare, it was a real life nightmare – and one where I was forced to live without your presence or your touch. Without seeing your beautiful blue eyes and seeing that amazing smile. One where I could never hear your voice or your laugh in person. One where I was left alone, un-assembled – once again – and utterly devastated.

I last saw your face or could touch your body on Monday December 12, at approximately 1pm. At roughly 1:30pm I kissed my hand and held it to your coffin and turned and walked away. I got back in the limousine and rode to the funeral home in silence, and I remember thinking that at almost the same time a week earlier to the day, you and I were in the back of a ambulance bringing you home. It had been such a long and tenuously anticipated event. I had prayed that you would make it into the New Year, but 30 hours or so later, you went to your eternal home…..and I was left alone and broken.

I was again a widow – in a world I didn’t know how to function in without you by my side.

Today I sit and mourn your death, but I also celebrate your life. Had you not lived so large, so well and so authentically – missing you wouldn’t be so hard.

Today I will visit your grave – and Greg’s. And I will stand and shake my head as I look at two headstone of men I’ve loved and lost. I will lovingly place a grave blanket at each of your headstones and I will stand silently with a hand upon each cold piece of granite, as I’m almost certain tears will slip down my face and dampen my neck. I will tell you both how much I love you. I will stand with each of you and honor the life I was privileged to share with you both. And at some point, I will feel healed enough to turn and walk to the car. And yet, each time I visit and turn to leave, I feel a small part of me stays behind. I tell myself that that is not where either of you really are anyway. But it’s still hard. It’s hard to leave the last place I could put my hand on your coffin and feel close to your body.

Half way to the car, I’ll stop and turn to look back – as if to show you leaving is hard – and I’ll blow a kiss your way.

I’ll get in the car, take a deep breath, look at your headstones one more time, and sigh. With my hands on the steering wheel and tears in my eye, I will pull slowly away. It’s a short driveway and almost immediately I have to deal with cars and traffic, and am reminded how quickly we can go from mourning to being pushed back into a world that has no idea how badly I hurt or ache for what was. As I put my blinker on and merge into traffic, I take the path back home. The same path I rode in the limousine back to the funeral home. But today, I bypass that place and head home. I go back to my new life and all the joy it holds. And somehow – in some way I will never figure out how to explain – I balance my loss with joy; my sorrow with my jubilation and my mourning with my anticipation of what life will hold today and into my future.

I know these days of anguish and heaviness don’t occupy my life on a regular basis, but when they do – I feel almost slammed to the ground. I find myself asking why and then I think of all the ways my loss has helped me help others, and for that I am grateful. But I have also learned I don’t have to try to make these contradictions make sense, and that all the good that comes from my heartache will never outweigh the deep, deep pain of my losses.

Time has gone on and I’ve picked myself back up and moved forward, as we talked about me doing.

I’m happy. I have a wonderful life. Just as I did after Greg died and we married, and while I wouldn’t have wished for Greg’s death, I wouldn’t have traded getting to have you and what we built, and I wouldn’t trade my space in life now either.

In my life now, I laugh a lot and I’m not alone. I’m making beautiful memories again and I have someone who loves me deeply. And, just as you and I had to do, only for different reasons, we’ve battled to be where we are today. But I know this – because of how you loved me – I have not accepted anything less – and I spend my days with my husband who cares for me as you and Greg did, but in his own unique and special ways. He has brown eyes not blue, but they smile when he looks at me and winks. He has a warm smile and the best laugh I’ve ever heard. He loves Lilly, and that little scamp loves him just like she loved you more than she loves me. And maybe the best part of all, is that he’s an amazing Poppie to Willow and Taylor.

Together, we are building a life that is truly ours and that is a blessing. And while this can’t fully make sense to him, or anyone who hasn’t lost a spouse, he supports me and hold space for days like these – and by being there for me – he is honoring what came before him – and that’s not an easy thing to do, and one more reason I love him so much.

I know today I will cry at random times, just like I do on the anniversary of Greg’s passing, and that that is ok. I won’t bother putting on makeup and I won’t care how I look when I go to the stores I need to go in.

I’ve learned that life is so far less difficult than I often make it, and I have to remind myself that the things I place importance on, are not the things I’ll care about in a year from now.

These are lessons I’ve learned and while I hate how I’ve learned them, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been your wife – even if for only six short years. They were amazing and I will cherish and remember them always. While I move forward, I can never replace you, nor would I want to.

I can’t recreate what we had, but I can build on it and I can carry you with me everyday, and by doing that, I know you will live forever inside of me.

I love you Don, you will forever be MY SWEET and I will always be yours ❤️

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