‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
My son and I have deep conversations before bedtime; it’s made me realize how introspective my little 8yr old is. This week, he asked a question that left me at a loss for words. He said, “Daddy, is it true that if you love someone more than anything in the world, they’ll only be in your life for a short time? And, if you’re miserable with someone, they’ll be in your life forever?”
Did he just ask if it was worth falling in love?
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.
This past weekend, the kids participated in a 1.2-mile run. This was the 4th year for my son and the 1st for my daughter. Before the race, I told the kids to run at a nice even pace; otherwise, they might regret the outcome. My son knew what I was referring to because last year he went out too fast and came pretty close to hurling after he finished.
Since I volunteered to help, I had the luxury of being right at the finish line to watch both kids finish. As I waited, I kept glancing at my watch so I could anticipate when the kids might come across the finish line. At roughly, 6.5 minutes I see my son coming in at full speed with his eyes closed and head tilted up to the sky. My first reaction was, “Welp, he did it again, he’s going to hurl as soon as he crosses the finish line.” However, he finished strong, gave me a high five and then wandered off to cheer on his friends.
It wasn’t until much later in the day that he told me why he had his eyes closed towards the end. He said he was listening to Mommy cheer him on.
Five days earlier, the situation was entirely different.
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.
A dear friend of mine wrote a beautiful tribute to Laura that she shared during the service. It talked about Laura being lightning and grace. Powerful, full of energy, yet elegant and welcoming to everyone. It’s difficult to put into words the aura that Laura possessed. She glowed, even when she was at her worst. She was a firecracker one minute, then a shoulder to lean on the next.
I miss that immensely. Yet, I see it every single day. I see it in my children, they are my lightning and grace.
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.