Today would have been the 59th birthday of the man I loved (and still do) with all of my heart. He was killed a year ago a few days shy of his 58th birthday. I have been in mourning since that day. Other family members have felt the pain, too, but I can only tell my story.
I made a comment to my cousin tonight (thanks, Cheryl) about grieving. I liken grief to a mantle or a cloak I was forced to put on. For the first few days, it was stifling, oppressive and shocking. The heaviness nearly suffocated me. As months passed, it became more a part of my normal wardrobe. That’s not to say wearing that cloak was ever something I wanted.
For a time, I was existing day to day, struggling to bear the heaviness. I got through those days, weeks and months, but just surviving his loss was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Ever.
Grief is a life-long process. The sharpness of loss fades to become bearable, but that cloak is still settled firmly on my shoulders. It doesn’t feel quite so heavy, but I still feel the weight. It’s not something I can take off and don again. It’s there to stay, but maybe I’m strong enough to stand tall in spite of the cloak.
I usually keep personal business out of my blog, but today is different. Today marks a month since my soul mate/life partner was murdered far away from me and Ysabela. The ugliness of what happened has haunted me, and I spent the day thinking about what (and who) I have lost. I know Ysabela lost someone dear to her, too.
At the end of every conversation with her daddy, I always promised him that I would take care of our girl no matter what. When she asked if we could go to the mall and a movie today after I finished work, I consulted my check book, inwardly groaned and said, “Sure! Let’s go!”
A promise is a promise, and my girl needed a day of fun whether I wanted to leave the house or not. It was nice to see Bela have a good shopping day (more about that later) and hear her belly laugh about the movie. I realized that no matter how tough things are, kids still need to have fun. It’s my job to make it happen.
Our community has had so many unexpected deaths lately that it feels like we are in perpetual mourning. I wonder how many more tears must be shed before we can heal.
From my perspective, I must offer some advice to those who have not yet been touched by tragedy. Pay attention. You don’t want to live with regrets.
Don’t wait to take that “special” vacation with loved ones. Travel when you can. Thinking you have all the time in the world is a huge mistake. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. One thing we all know for sure is that nobody gets out of life alive.
If someone needs a hug from you, give it happily. They may not ask again. I know sometimes I get in a hurry, but my Ysabela opens her arms for a hug. I hug her. What if she never asks again?
Special occasions happen daily. Did you get up this morning? Victory! Wear your best jewelry! Use the fine china for supper! You don’t need a reason to celebrate life.
Work hard for what you want out of life. Play hard, too. There’s a time and place for everything.
If you feel like you want to get to know someone better, make the effort. Next week may be too late to grab a cup of coffee with him or her.
Don’t wait to live your life. Putting things on hold will haunt you.
Driving to the closest Wal-Mart this evening gave me plenty of time to think. There’s a funeral tomorrow, and my heart is so heavy. I hurt for the family, especially the children. I realized as I drove that I have been grieving in increments—when I have some alone time, I ponder the unfairness of a family losing a husband and father in the prime of his life. When I am around others, I put my feelings in a box and shove it to the back of my mind.
People grieve in many different ways. Some openly cry and seek the company of others. I have always done my crying in private. I am a control freak, so I feel weak when others see me upset. I do my best to handle my business when I’m alone. Keep in mind that just because someone isn’t being demonstrative, that doesn’t indicate that the person lacks emotion.
One thing we know about life is that nobody gets out alive. Our rural community has been rocked by deaths in the last few months. Two awesome family men are being mourned. The community has been completely stunned by the losses.
The main question we have asked is, “Why?” We may never understand. I hate that feeling of helplessness that follows the news. How can we help the grieving family members? All that comes to mind is pray and “help them cry.”
The scariest part is that both men were seemingly healthy fellows. That just goes to show when death comes for us, we can’t say, “Can you come back later? I have some things to wrap up first.” Mourning our losses has brought us all closer to our own feelings about mortality. We have been forcefully reminded that when it’s our time to go, nothing can stop it. I plan to make every day count.