For the past 3.5 months, I’ve been sending myself text messages. They’ve mostly been rapid thoughts that had neither a beginning or end. This past week I went through these thoughts and pieced them together. The following piece is broken up and fragmented at times. However, it gave me a glimpse into my mind these past few months.
I spent this past weekend in Nashville, TN attending a wedding with my children. This trip was our first road trip without Laura, and the ride down was challenging at times, even lonely. Challenging because we took a vow almost 12 years ago to “share all that is to come; to speak and to listen.” Two things I can no longer do with her.
I never gave our wedding vows much thought until I listened this past weekend intently and let each word sink in. The prose, albeit simple, is beautiful and encapsulates the joys and pains of marriage. One passage that stood out to me was, “To Inspire and To Respond.”
So basic, yet so profound.
January 14th, 2000 was the day that I met Laura.
That same day, 16 years later, I lost her.
I have no explanation for this even after double-checking dates, digging through bins and spending hours on the web to make sure I wasn’t just making this up. The greatest day of my life and the worst day of my life are one in the same.
When I started this blog over two months ago, it served as an outlet to get all of my thoughts and feelings organized. It allowed me to begin my healing process. I still have a long way to go, but along the way I’ve discovered a lot about myself and how I want to live my life.
What I didn’t realize was the impact my writings would have on others. The countless text messages, phone calls, instant messages and personal conversations letting me know how I’ve changed the way people go about living their daily lives has left me at a loss for words and humbled beyond recognition.
I draw strength from all of you, a strength that allows me to keep climbing. And for that, I thank you.
An empty chair can be esoteric.
Simple, yet complex.
When occupied, it bears the weight of the individual. It serves as a place to share laughter, love and conversation.
When empty, only traces of the individual remain. A worn patch on the wood, or a stain from a spill long forgotten.
Where there was once laughter and conversation, there is only silence. The silence is anything but comfortable.
As time passes, the chair will no longer serve as a reminder of a love lost too soon. It will remind us of the laughter, love and joy it once held.
Until then, it will remain empty.
Instead of writing one big post about our trip, I’ve decided to write several observations and reflections that happened while we spent our week in Captiva. It was an amazing trip, filled with mostly great moments.
Focusing on the future, never forgetting the past.
As the sun slowly set upon the gulf our first night, I stared at my two children while the waves hit their feet. Each time a wave came in, they’d squeal in delight. Watching my children experience the ocean for the first time was something that I will not soon forget. It was beautiful and bittersweet, joy and grief intricately woven into the fabric of my life.
On the outside, I smile, laugh and put up a strong front.
On the inside, the story is different. There is a war of emotions – joy is battling grief, rage is wrestling with tranquility, and love is dominated by loneliness. But, I’m okay with this.
In your eyes, I am complete
Laura loved the song, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. She had it on a license plate when we met and it was the first song we danced to as newlyweds.
I played this song twice for her while in a hospital.
The first being days after her double mastectomy and the doctors wanted to get her back on her feet to get her circulation going. I remember sitting in the hospital room with her and I could see she was in quite a bit of pain and was reluctant to stand up. I reached into my pocket, grabbed my phone and pressed play, I then extended my hand and asked her if I can have this dance. I carefully helped her out of her bed and held her while slowly rocking back and forth to the song.
The look in her eyes while I held her was one that I will never forget.
“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”
The artwork in the photo above is on my desk. Laura bought it at an art fair. I never really thought about why she bought it until now. I think she knew it was symbolic of her inner beauty and grace. So big that it couldn’t be contained by cancer.
It’s difficult to put into words the amount of grief one goes through when losing someone that you’ve loved dearly.
I’m angry and I’m sad.
Angry that she was taken away from us too soon. Sad that I’ll no longer be able to hold her, talk to her and just be around her.
But then I remember all of the difficult times these past 2 years – the diagnosis, the numerous operations, the dreadful tests and exams, the waiting and the unknowns. There are just too many unpleasant experiences to list.
I try to find peace knowing that she’s no longer in pain, no longer suffering but I guess I just miss my wife.
The fog creeps in unexpectedly and engulfs you. At first, you panic because you can’t see what’s in front of you, then the coldness begins to set in. It’s almost bone-chilling. A chill that seeps into your soul, so deep that you feel like you’ll never feel warmth again.
Frantically, you take a step forward, then another. You can hear things off in the distance, but they’re too far away to discern. The fog suddenly feels thicker, almost suffocating. Yet, you keep walking. Alone.
You stumble. You fall.