There’s a song by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks that hit home to me this week.
Simple Things is off their album called Revelator. (If you haven’t heard it, is worth a listen it’s pretty damn amazing)
But I bring this up because as I try to write each night I try to find inspiration in the things around me. This is a chronicle of what our lives have been since March 26th of 2011. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything then until October with the specter of Andrea’s birthday hanging in the balance. Now, nearly a year after my first post, (tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of this blog) I find myself with the opposite problem.
The song echoes what I’ve been thinking in the last few weeks:
When you look into the mirror
Are you proud of what you see?
Do you take it all for granted
Do you have all that you need?
The refrain goes to the fact “I’ve been taking more than I’ve been giving.”
That’s been true. I wrote here every night but weekend nights and felt very alone. Part of that loneliness was grief, sure. Much of it was . . . protection. There’s a tendency after a loss to try and prevent yourself from getting hurt again. I don’t say this just from personal experience, it’s been true of others I’ve known. I took a very sure approach with the kids. If they’re sad or hurt, they need only come to me. The times I haven’t paid attention to see they’re feeling bad without telling me are the times things have gone haywire and I’ve paid a price for it.
I realized that I spoke with friends and dominated conversation. I isolated myself and then felt alone. Then when speaking with friends, I talked only about where we stood. Life, for so many, goes along and they have issues and accidents and trends and problems that are just as important to them. I may not have everything I want . . .but need? We’re doing really well. I try now to tell people that we’re doing okay. It’s not a lie. I’m not trying to convince myself. I realized I had far more interest in how others were doing and should just . . . listen.
For so long I wanted to act the damaged, hurt, lonely guy that is so put upon. I know it. I am embarrassed of it and even ashamed a bit. Part of me put on that act because I was guilty.
Guilty of the fact that I’d managed to get out from under the grief.
Guilty of the fact that we’re doing better than when Andrea was here. (in many ways)
Guilty of the fact that I was enjoying a lot of things we’d never have done if Andrea was here.
Guilty that I’d made new friends, done new things.
Guilty . . . that I was moving forward.
Guilty for letting the world know she left us and that I was a little angry about it.
You have to understand, she stopped. Her face, her body, her spirit, they’re all eternal now. I don’t mean that in a Catholic or religious way, I mean the only way she lives now is in our hearts and minds. She’s eternally that curly-haired blonde that resides in my memories. For Abbi she’s the woman in the glasses that took her to the pumpkin patch and did her hair in pig tails and bought cute overalls. For Hannah she’s the woman who she sidled next to on the couch and watched Barney and sang off key. For the boys…she’s the woman who loved them and I think left too early.
So I’m guilty of moving forward, and knowing that the only way to do that is leaving her there, looking beautiful and not seeing the flaws. Not seeing the arguments.
It’s the only way we could do this. People are often asking us, Hannah in particular, how we do it. It wasn’t a secret. We loved Andrea, and we love Andrea, but we can’t treat her like some malicious spirit hovering over our lives like a cloud. Abbi is going to college next fall. Hannah’s moving to high school. I can’t keep people at arm’s length because I was married and lost my wife. I can’t hide behind guilt.
We did what the song says.
Looking for life without sorrow
Love without pain.
She’s never gone, Andrea. In the beginning that was the problem. Now it’s part of what brought us here. I look forward to the next steps. It’s been almost a year and our story has changed. A lot.
But like when I started this, it’s all different. Abbi leaves next year and it will be different again. Maybe they’re just chapters.
They’re the simple things that make it all worth living. I had to remind myself to be open to those things and the people I see around me. It may be that I’ve changed.
Or maybe, like a year ago, Our Story Begins . . . again.