Somebody asked me a couple days ago about where I “find comfort” or how I move forward with my life.
“I guess you have to go forward thinking about what Andrea would want and what she would do. . . knowing you’ll see her again.” (I’m paraphrasing, was a longer conversation, but you get it)
Let me begin this post by saying I loved Andrea. She was my friend, my love, my wife . . . and she was also my pain, my stress and my consternation. Regularly. But the phrase above, along with “you’ll see her again” and “she’s waiting for you” just . . . I don’t know . . . bother me. It was a hard situation getting through the initial months alone. I didn’t find comfort in the fact she was either watching me or waiting for me. I don’t know what comes next . . . I know I’m Catholic and we have our set of beliefs, but belief and faith to me are personal. Lose someone that close to you and you begin to wonder what’s next.
But I digress. It took me the full year to come to terms with a couple things. She’s not watching over us . . . not much. I’ve heard lots of others say they’ve felt her or heard from her or felt her presence. I’m glad she’s watching over so many others who apparently need her help. Only on a couple occasions have I felt that. Maybe that 20 years or so with me was more than enough for her. Let’s face it, whether it’s paradise, heaven, the Fields of Elysium, or Aasgaard . . . she’s not worrying about us. I don’t want her to, either. I had that initial anger, sure. I was mad she’d left and didn’t fight harder to stay. I was frustrated, sad, impatient, quick to judge . . . all things that just weren’t me on a normal day.
The other thing is that whole “think what Andrea would do” philosophy. I’m sorry to be blunt here, but I just won’t do that any more. I tried that . . . it didn’t work.
First, she’s not here. What worked for her only worked for her, folks, sorry. It was actually fairly quickly I had to come to terms with the fact that Andrea’s thoughts, ideas and philosophies didn’t work when I tried them most the time. On top of that . . . she was wrong a lot of the time. So was I. I can’t afford to walk the road while looking over my shoulder. Do I still have days where I miss her and wish she was here? Of course I do. I always will. I can’t imagine anyone who loses someone – be it through death or even just a breakup – doesn’t miss them all the time. We worked very hard to get married, stay married, and be a family. I’ve had to work just as hard to keep that family together.
So you’ll forgive me, I hope, when I say that I can take some of the ideals and morals that Andrea gave me while walking my own path. What worked? That drive . . . the decision that you make and you stick with it. I kept that, sure. Why wouldn’t I? The confidence and conviction. She rubbed off on me with that. She gave me the courage of my convictions and helped me mature into the man I am – you might say we did that for each other.
So in the last many months I’ve come to terms with life again. It’s our life. We still have the shadow of the past lingering, it always will, but I don’t live my life wondering “what Andrea would do.” I can’t do that, I’d go mad.
The kids and I have gotten healthier. We exercise. We budget. I say “no” a lot. More than I ever did to Andrea. We go on little adventures when I can . . . things Andrea would never have tried. Abbi’s in drama and will do that for a career – something her Mom despised. I play music and continue to write and record. These are big ones . . . Andrea never got that – hated my being a guitar player and songwriter. She didn’t understand it, didn’t like it, and usually saw that as either lost time or the guitars as lost money. I have met only a few people in my lifetime who get what it’s like to be a musician. I intend to hold on to those people and keep them in my life from now on. It’s not easy knowing a musician – even one who isn’t on the road – so it’s a rare bird that understands.
This isn’t a slam of my late wife. This isn’t putting her down. When I left my hometown I knew little about life and understood even less about women. She put me on a fast track to confidence and security. The person I was at home, by myself and with my family – came out when I was with her. Some people said I changed, but in reality, I was always there, she just gave me the confidence to be myself.
So yes, on March 26th of 2011 I felt shattered. It was brutal. Now I sit, just 11 days from her birthday and I don’t feel so broken any more. Maybe the responsibility of the mantle I decided to carry glued those pieces back together. I make decisions now because they seem the best ones. Sometimes I’m wrong – hopefully most the time I’m not. But I can’t afford to let Andrea factor into it as the first thought in my mind all the time.
She’s moved on to that great gig in the sky. I’m happy for her and hope she’s up there with all the greats, finally able to sing on-key.
The rest of us . . . well, we’re walking our path. I don’t see events and times as so horrible because we’re doing them alone. We’re doing them because we’re together. And finally, I can say, I feel like myself again. The self that she pulled out of the quagmire he was in. That will always be her legacy.