Our Story Begins: Two Steps Forward, One Back
I know the common phrase is “one step forward, two steps back,” but I looked at where things were this week and realized that the regular cliche just doesn’t quite fit.
As we approach the date when my wife passed away I can certainly see the effect it’s had on the kids. I For something like the fourth night in a row one of my sons has ended up in my bed, scared, saying he’s had a nightmare. It’s clear that something’s weighing on their minds, but they’re just not sure what that is. I don’t confront it, don’t plant the seed in their minds by blurting out “are you missing your Mom, is that why you’re not sleeping?” That would just, in my opinion, push them further down the whirlpool.
These kinds of anniversaries are hard, I knew that before I ever suffered loss. One of my dearest friends lost her sister and that date never was easy on her. The first couple years I knew her she would take the day off – much like I am, again, this year. But as time went on, the ability to let others in, comfort – not pity – her and enjoy what is, for everyone else, an atypical day started to creep into her life.
This is the situation into which we’re moving now. Like my friend, losing someone dear will always weigh on you. There’s always a slowing of your movement as you approach the day that they died. I see that even now and it’s why we started so early on our annual video this year. I wanted it finished and completed.
Still, I’ve noticed something remarkable. I postulated in the past that you don’t stop loving or missing the person who has passed away. Instead, you learn to live with living without them. I cannot pretend to say this is scientific or realistic in its hypothesis, it just is the way I feel. The closer we get to March 26th the slower we move. But unlike years past we continue to move forward, that’s the nature of the title up there. The last two anniversaries I grabbed the kids and we just left, leaving behind all the memories and the people who approached us because it just dredged it all up again and muddied the waters. Until this year.
My son is in a speech presentation this year and when months ago I mentioned that we might consider going away on the anniversary again he was crestfallen. He’d worked so hard to get into the “oral presentation” club and to have his chance to give his speech taken away was too much. It’s here I realized that, much like I’ve always said, he wants to continue to live his daily life. He is the best example of how none of us are defined by the fact that he lost his mother and I lost my wife. Sure, it affected us. It most certainly changed us. The day, though, approaches what it is for everyone else – just a day.
That’s not to say that March 26th won’t hold a spot for us for all time, it will. That day, for me, will always make my heart skip a beat. It’s the day, after all, that I got married and the day that the marriage ended – the day she died. Young marriage, after all, made for a young widower, I suppose you could say.
So loss is just that . . . loss. But it’s not and ending, not to us; not to our story. So as we approach the 26th, we certainly feel the pull from the past, yanking us a step back for each single day that passes. But for each step back we’ve been dragged we’ve taken two forward. My son will give his speech and his Dad will be there to watch him . . . along with his older sister, home for break from college. It’s a difficult day because we all loved her so deeply, but in the end (without trying to sound too cheesy) that’s the one thing that moves us forward, too. Love. That person has gone away, but the love remains. That doesn’t mean we don’t move forward because my kids see the love I have for them; the love their grandparents have; their aunts and uncles, too. We’re surrounded by the very thing that tries to pull us back into the past.
We see it physically and feel it emotionally, too: we’re stronger together than when we’re apart.