Friday, January 29, 2016

Treasure Chest

Image from
He was her hero
not in the cape-flying
out the window kinda way
but in the best friend,
believes in who you are kinda way
The last week of January has traditionally been a rough week for me.  It’s been that way since January 30, 1999.  Watching the person you believe to have been your soulmate slip out of your arms into the arms of heaven leaves a wound on your soul.  There have been years that have been better than others, and possibly even years where there was a new love interest in my life.  I haven’t stayed stuck in the muck of hopelessness and grief, and he wouldn’t have wanted me to.  However, his presence in my life carved a deeper impression than a legal and holy merger between a man and woman who love each other whole-heartedly.   He changed everything I believed about me.

In the months after his death, I begged God to take me with him. Later, I ranted at the unfairness, and constantly dwelled on what life would be like if he was still here,  I lived in a twisted future world of fantasy; making up stories of the two of us, buying a business, traveling, building a small condo by some beach, and immersing ourselves in the activities of  precocious  little grandchildren.  How he would enjoy them.  Those stories I told myself just left me a little envious and a lot bitter.  

After a few years, I moved beyond that, and gingerly stepped into dating again.  I was a young widow and at the time the idea of living out the rest of my days alone was a dreaded fate, right behind death.  Being with him when he died, I no longer feared life on the other side, but a life alone seemed to me to be a miserable existence.  With that fear in the forefront of my mind, many of my choices in companionship weren’t really the best fit for me and with every break-up, it somehow made his death even more painful.  I wondered if I compared others to him too often, and decided I probably did.  Using him as a measure of suitability was destined to fail, not because so many of those others weren’t good people and nice guys, but simply because nothing can ever compare to the trophy on the shelf, shiny and flawless in my imagination;  picking and choosing only the stellar qualities and fireworks moments to memorialize him.  I pushed away the minutia of character traits and times when he wasn’t perfect. 

I’ve settled into a much more comfortable place and my dreaded widowhood has turned to comfortable singledom.  What that means is I am no longer defined by his death.  I treasure the Golden Decade I spent with him, but I have also had beautiful moments without him.  

However, he was my hero and always will be. He left me with a treasure chest of unconditional love, acceptance, and an explicit  belief in me and my capabilities, things I struggled to give to myself. He taught me to love me. He looked at me with a fresh set of eyes.  He saw my heart and my humor.  He saw my talents, unfiltered by insecurity.  He told me I was one of the smartest people he knew and reinforced it when he listened intently to my opinions and used them with his business, in his relationships, and for his own personal growth.   Those were the gifts he left to comfort me when he was gone.  Eternal, life-changing gifts.  I didn’t see it for a long, long, time and maybe I had to dig my way out of the grave in order to breathe.

I had to find my gratitude again to light the way back into the land of the living and uncover the blessings he brought into my life, rather than focusing on my loss.  

As I prepare for another January 30th, tomorrow, this year I think I will snuggle into the beautiful wool quilt my talented sister-in-law made for my father-in-law and gifted to me after his death a few years ago.  Surrounded by material symbols of love, it’s really time to send an extra helping of thanks to God and him for arriving in my life and helping me to see that I am really strong and talented, and loved way beyond the grave.  Spending the day honoring the treasure chest full of gifts that have helped me to navigate these many years since he's been gone, seems like it would be a better reflection of the love we shared.  My husband, my hero, my blessing.