I get anxious and itchy at the first glimpse of August on the calendar. It’s like time has created a monster, with a time bomb attached to it, and I wait for it to come through on cue, and wreck a few buildings. It doesn’t matter how many walls I put up or how many swipes of war paint I smear across my cheek bones- I’m more woman than wolf as the days and memories get closer and closer. I’ve always tried to learn from what I’ve grown through so instead of trying to double pad lock my emotional baggage shut I’ve taken some of it out and found an odd appreciation for what it’s created within me and what it’s done for the lens I view my life through.
Five years. Five fucking years. Looking back seems even further away with an unrecognizable “norm” outside my window these days. I miss so many things that were broken, that were shattered beyond repair that day. The way he would laugh at the dorky, quirky things that make me, me. The way he made every wild dream and wish seem possible for all of us with his steady “we’ll figure it out.” The way he looked at me like I was the only person he ever loved. He believed in and trusted me like no one ever had. I miss the way he would lean in and hang on my words with his whole heart and I miss the way he let me be who I was most comfortable being- even if that meant giving me autonomy and room to grow. He never suffocated me with his own ideas of who he expected me to be. He wasn’t a perfect person and he had an unbelievable amount of healing to do from situations that broke his heart but, he was the closest thing to home I’d felt. Grief is a roller coater ride of emotion but truly, on most days, I’m simply homesick.
47 minutes changed my entire world. I felt the sting from exposing my soul to let healing in. I’d never felt more vulnerable than the moments I spent alone, with my own thoughts, completely lost. I went from wearing the most warm and comfortable sweater to watching it unravel as it was snagged on the jagged nail of unforeseeable and unwelcome change. Being cold and naked, standing face to face with my fears of failure, the unknown, and all the other things meant to break me, is where I learned about my moxie. Stronger, smarter, kinder…..I don’t know if I was any of those but I do know that I had courage.
The root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for heart. In its earliest form the word courage had a completely different meaning than what it does today. It meant to speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart. In the days and months after Ken died I lived with labels like Mom, step mom, widow, etc. to help me identify who the hell I was. I think we all do that in some way- student, single, athlete, professional, milkman, fireman, rich, poor…the list could go on and on. In searching for myself I inadvertently took the original definition of courage and defined who I was in my heart instead of what I was in both my mind and to other people.
Bright, warm, caring, lovable, capable, creative, devoted, joyful, intriguing, provoking, flawed, talented, soulful- all these things can’t be labeled; they are things that don’t require a prerequisite or perfect timing. These are things that take courage to show and they are the things that take courage to believe in so we can see ourselves for who we are and who we were meant to be. I think that focusing on who I wanted to be gave me something worth moving forward for. I didn’t want to look back and realize I’d wasted irreplaceable time letting life define me.
My journey away from that day has brought some welcomed changes of scenery and a collection of memories with people who left an impression on my soul. I still struggle at times deciding if silence is loneliness or freedom. My self awareness has increased and in doing so has decreased unnecessary internal and external conflict. I’ve also grown into the mind set that putting myself first at times isn’t recklessly selfish. It’s fucking imperative for my sanity. I shouldn’t feel a looming heaviness for making myself happy before I give my laughter away to someone else. Life has never felt more like a verb. After all this time and all the growing pains, I can’t imagine settling for stability or companionship so I can spend the rest of my life sitting next to someone at the dinner table only talking about my day. I want to live with my eyes wide open taking it all in and leveling up in life with someone who doesn’t feel the need to tame the little bit of wild that sits just under my skin.
I’ve never been able to assign a reason for his death but I will admit that the healing process had to happen the way it did in order for me to become who I was meant to be without him. I would never, ever say that the tears, darkness, guilt of moving on, and pure pain were worth it, but they were absolutely necessary. Death, divorce, disappointments- it doesn’t matter what kind of package it comes in, it takes guts to let go of holding on. But, life unfolds in proportion to your courage and the answers keep unfolding as your life expands, if you’re willing to see things for what they are and what they can be, trust me.