So today at 4 pm marked one year since I got the devastating news and knew my life as I knew it was over and the life I envisioned was not to be. It was the night I told my precious daughters that once again they would lose a part of who they were and travel again down the loneliest road imaginable. It was the night I would watch my granddaughters cry and at the same time try to comfort not only me, but their mom and their aunt. I could physically see and hear the hearts breaking in that room. It was also the night I would deliver the news to Rick that he had an incurable Cancer. It was a night I will never forget.
The time since that fateful night has been filled with life. Going to work, school, getting groceries, playing with the dogs and grieving. My family is no stranger to grief. We have been migrating this road for almost 10 years now. It has twists and turns and ups and downs and sometimes even spirals. It is like a gymnast doing floor exercise, you never know what is coming next. Time passes, sometimes slowly, sometimes you can’t keep up, but it passes. Days into nights and nights into days, sometimes you don’t even know the difference. Sometimes you are good, sometimes you’re a mess, but always you are still you. The challenge is “who are you now?”
Getting acclimated to life without someone you love is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It is a journey like no other. Life can be tough when everyone is ok, but if all are healthy and have what they need, you can work on the rest. When someone dies, you have no second chances at anything. Whatever the circumstances, their physical presence is gone and with it a piece of your heart.
So is there ever a happy ending to a story like this? I think that is an individual choice. For some, things never get better and for others they seem to find a new and different life. It’s as if you are afraid to heal because somehow you will forget them. I am certain of one thing in my life…YOU NEVER FORGET LOVE. I believe that you are who you are because of your experiences. If you are compassionate, then somewhere in your life, someone showed you compassion. If you are a loving and caring person, then along the line you were probably loved and cared for. Now if you are unsure, cautious, afraid and distrustful, then somewhere, someone let you down. It is never too late to find some form of happy. It may not be what you had with your loved one, but a different kind of happy.
I truly thought my life was over when Lindsey died, but with work, determination and a tremendous amount of support, I discovered life could indeed be good again. If you have doubts, take a moment and look into the eyes of a child. The gleam you see is promise of the future. I have always believed things happen for a reason and I believe that more than ever. It is proven to me every single day.
Today while I wore my mask at work, keeping my feelings very private and wondering how I would handle the day, this happened. I was giving a tour in a hospital room to a couple getting ready to have a baby. As I tried hard to concentrate, I looked over the woman’s shoulder and there looking in the window was a big, bright red, beautiful Cardinal looking straight at me. It took my breath away.
Most of my readers know I’m training a therapy dog, something Rick and I had planned to do together. On her first observation, it was snowing mixed with rain, it was cold and dark and it was lonely because he wasn’t here. I was standing inside and as I looked to my right, there was someone I had gone to high school with and Rick and I had double dated with in the 60’s. It made me breathe and realize I wasn’t alone at all. Then to my left I saw one of the first faces that greeted me in my first meeting of Compassionate Friends. She hugged me so tight, I felt all the tension release and for the rest of the visit I felt Rick and Lindsey all around me. It was a comfort I can’t explain and I sobbed all the way home.
On Friday, I decided to tackle the Social Security office and in that visit was able to accomplish what I needed, except after a decent wait, I was missing one document. Dreading the wait again, I waited until Monday and went before work. Waiting outside there was a chill in the air and I started talking to a woman in front of me. As she shared her story, I realized she had been through some devastating health issues. She explained it had affected her sight, her ability to work and earn a living and had left her virtually dependent on someone to help her with daily life. As I shared my story, I realized that I was so blessed to have my health even though I had dealt with so many tough things. We ended up sitting together inside for a short time and the tears flowed as she continued her story. All I could feel was compassion for her and her journey and all I could feel for myself was grateful, grateful for wonderful times and memories made, grateful for good health and grateful for my life then and my life now. As I left, I gave her my phone number and told her if she needed to talk to give me a call. I got a text from her the next day and I think I have found a new friend.
This day, though filled with tough memories, is also filled with gratitude. I am grateful for all of you who take your time to follow my journey. I am grateful for life and health and Cardinals and new friendships. I am even grateful for the maze because a maze always has a way out, a light at the end of a very long and lonely tunnel, but a light nonetheless.